For the week of Apr. 18, 2021
Independence Day: Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe, formerly called Rhodesia, gained independence from Great Britain on this day in 1980.
Glenn Seaborg (1912-1999): Scandinavian American. Scientist and governmental advisor. Although a chemist by training, Dr. Seaborg did much of his work in nuclear physics, leading the research that created nine artificial elements, including plutonium. In 1951, he shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for these achievements. Dr. Seaborg became the director of the Lawrence Berkley Laboratory and remained emeritus director after he retired. He was a scientific advisor to a number of presidents, serving as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission for 10 years. He also served as chancellor of the University of California.
Tito Puente (1923-2000): Puerto Rican. Musician and bandleader. A pioneer in bringing Latin music to lead the United States, Puente brought percussion to the center of his orchestral presentations with the Tito Puente Orchestra. He became known as the iMambo King.i Puente was also a leader in fusing Latin rhythms with jazz and other forms of music. He recorded over 120 albums, including Cuban Carnival, Mamborama, The Legend, and Tito Puente Live at Birdland Dancemania i99.
Tiradentes Day: Brazil. This commemorates the excution on this day in 1792 of Jose da Silva Xavier, a leader of the revolt against Portugal.
Festival of Ridvan: Bahaii. On the first, ninth, and twelfth day of the Bahaii month of Ridvan (April 21, 29, and May 2), Bahaiis commemorate the declaration of Bahaiuillah in 1863 of his mission as the last messenger of God to the world. Although Bahaiis observe all twelve days, these three days are ones on which they refrain from work. The word iRidvani means paradise, and refers to the garden in Baghdad where Bahaiuillah proclaimed his mission as the prophet of God.
J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967): Jewish American. A pioneer in the field of atomic energy, Oppenheimer was director of the Los Alamos laboratory where the first atomic bomb was developed during World War II. Troubled by the use of science to produce weapons of mass destruction, Oppenheimer joined other scientists in refusing to work on developing the even more powerful hydrogen bomb.
Genocide Memorial Day. Armenia. This day, also known as Armenian Martyrs Day, commemorates the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-1916. Most Armenians living in the United States are the children or grandchildren of survivors of the genocide. This day has been chosen to commemorate this tragic event since on this day in the 1915 many of Armenia's leading politicians, writers, and professionals in Constantinople were deported and/or killed.
Ella fitzgerald (1917-1996): African American. Singer. Ella fitzgerald, who was to win more Grammy Awards than any other jazz musician, began as a singer with Chick Webb and his band. She later sang with Dizzy Gillespie and became known for her improvisations and iscati singing, playing with words and musical notes. She demonstrated expert taste in material. Her recorded songbooks of music by the Gershwins, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, and others remain definitive. Lyricists loved to have her record their works; her razor sharpness guaranteed that every work would be meaningful. Composers loved her dedication to melody, and jazz musicians loved her improvisation. Along with Billie Holiday, she is generally considered to be one of the greatest female jazz singers of her generation.
Anzac Day: Australia and New Zealand. This is Australiais most important national occasion of commemoration, marking the anniversary of the first major military action by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I. Religious services are held at dawn across the nation. Later in the day, former servicemen and women meet and join in special marches, rekindling memories of their experiences. Commemorative ceremonies are held at war memorials around the country, including observing one or two minutes of silence.
Liberation Day: Italy. This commemorates the day in 1945 that that Italy was liberated from German occupation during World War II.
Liberation Day: Portugal. This commemorates the bloodless revolution in 1974 that overthrew the dictatorial regime of Antonio Salazar and the reestablishment of democracy.
Sinai Liberation Day: Egypt. This day commemorates the signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1982.