Aug-14: A Day of Landmarks, Blowback and Time Warps
Today is a day that features landmark events such as the completion of the Cologne Cathedral, the signing of the Social Security Act, the birth of Solidarity in Poland and today’s reopening of the US Embassy in Havana. It also features two events – the US invasion and prolonged occupation of Nicaragua and the introduction of British troops into Northern Ireland – that would lead to greater conflict and violence. Finally, today is the day that the “Time Warp” first blazed on movie screens when “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was released in London.
Cologne Cathedral Construction Completed
The Cologne Cathedral, Germany’s most visited landmark and World Heritage site, was completed today 632 after construction first began. It is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and was the tallest structure in the world until 1884 when the Washington Monument was completed.
The cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs during World War II. Badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in an otherwise completely flattened city.
US Invades Nicaragua
When the U.S. installed government lost support of the General Assembly for “selling out the nation to New York bankers,” it petitioned to the U.S. to intervene. U.S. Marines would occupy Nicaragua until 1933 (with the exception of nine-months in 1925). The U.S. occupation and subsequent governments led by the Somoza family were the target of guerrilla war led by General Augusto Cesar Sandino. Sandino was assassinated leaving the Presidential palace in 1934.
In 1979, President Anastasio Somoza DeBayle was overthrown by Sandinista rebels. The Reagan administration funded a counter-revolution forced known as “the Contras” and 30,000 people were killed in the conflict over the next decade.
President Roosevelt Signs the Social Security Act
The Social Security Act of 1935 was created during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term by the President’s Committee on Economic Security, under Frances Perkins, and passed by Congress as part of the Second New Deal. The act was an attempt to limit what was seen as dangers in the modern American life, includingold age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens on widows and fatherless children. By signing this act on August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate federal assistance for the elderly.
The Act provided benefits to retirees and the unemployed, and a lump-sum benefit at death. Payments to current retirees are financed by a payroll tax on current workers’ wages, half directly as a payroll tax and half paid by the employer. The act also gave money to states to provide assistance to aged individuals (Title I), for unemployment insurance (Title III), Aid to Families with Dependent Children (Title IV), Maternal and Child Welfare (Title V), public health services (Title VI), and the blind (Title X).
Operation Banner Brings British Troops to Northern Ireland
Operation Banner was the operational name for the British Armed Forces’ operation in Northern Ireland from August 1969 to July 2007. It was initially deployed at the request of the unionist government of Northern Ireland to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). After the 1998 Belfast Agreement, the operation was gradually scaled down. Its role was to assert the authority of the government of the United Kingdom in Northern Ireland.
The main opposition to the British military’s deployment came from the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). It waged a guerrilla campaign against the British military from 1970 to 1997. An internal British Army document released in 2007 stated that, whilst it had failed to defeat the IRA, it had made it impossible for the IRA to win through violence, and had also reduced substantially the death toll in the last years of conflict.
. . . The British Army killed 305 people during Operation Banner, 156 (~51%) of whom were unarmed civilians. Of these, 61 were children. Elements of the British Army also colluded with illegal loyalist paramilitaries responsible for numerous attacks on civilians (see below). The journalist Fintan O’Toole argues that “both militarily and ideologically, the Army was a player, not a referee”.
. . . Many members of the Catholic community initially welcomed the British Army’s deployment. . . . The main turning point in the relationship between the British Army and the Catholic community was 30 January 1972: “Bloody Sunday”. During an anti-internment march in Derry, 26 unarmed protesters and bystanders were shot by soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment; fourteen died. Some were shot from behind or while trying to help the wounded. The Bloody Sunday Inquiry concluded in 2010 that the killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable”.
The Who’s fifth studio album and first one after Tommy – Who’s Next is released. According to Acclaimed Music, Who’s Next is the 35th most ranked record in critics’ lists of the all-time greatest albums. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it 28th on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album appeared at number 15 on Pitchfork Media’s list of the 100 best records from the 1970s. [In 2006], the album was chosen by Time as one of their 100 best records of all time.
Rocky Horror Picture Show Premiers
The film opened in the United Kingdom on this day and in the United States on 26 September, premiering at the UA Westwood in Los Angeles, California. It did well at that location, but not elsewhere. Prior to the midnight screenings’ success, the film was withdrawn from its eight opening cities due to very small audiences, and its planned New York City opening on Halloween night was cancelled. Fox re-released the film around college campuses on a double-bill with another rock music film parody, Brian De Palma’sPhantom of the Paradise, but again it drew small audiences.
With Pink Flamingos (1972) and Reefer Madness (1936) making money in midnight showings nationwide, a Fox executive, Tim Deegan, was able to talk distributors into midnight screenings, starting in New York City on April Fools’ Day of 1976. The cult following started shortly after the film began its midnight run at the Waverly Theater in New York City. Rocky Horror was not only found in the larger cities but throughout the United States where many attendees would get in free if they arrived in costume. . . . Before long nearly every screening of the film was accompanied by a live fan cast.
The film is considered to be the longest-running release in film history. It has never been pulled by 20th Century Fox from its original 1975 release, and it continues to play in cinemas.
Lech Walesa Leads Strike at Gdansk Shipyard
A strike led by shipyard electrician Lech Walesa led to the recognition of the first trade union in a Warsaw Pact country – Solidarity. It would evenutally include one-third of all Polish workers.
Walesa would become President of Poland following the collapse of Communism.
US Reopens Embassy in Havana
The three U.S. Marines who took down the flag 54 years ago, will raise the flag today.