Sept 8 (Pt 3): Debuts, Kingfish and Pepper
Today is a day of debuts and beginnings from the Pledge of Allegiance, Miss America, Star Trek and the Kennedy Center to the Siege of Leningrad. It is also the day that one southern giant was fatally shot, while another was born. Finally, it is also a day that was a turning point in Iranian opposition to the Shah that is known as “Black Friday”.
First Pledge of Allegiance
The original “Pledge of Allegiance” was published in the September 8 issue of the popular children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion as part of the National Public-School Celebration of Columbus Day, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas The original version read:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
First Miss America
Washington, D.C.’s Margaret Gorman becomes the First Miss America. She was later quoted as saying: “I never cared to be Miss America. It wasn’t my idea. I am so bored by it all. I really want to forget the whole thing.”
Kingfish Huey Long Fatally Shot
US Senator from Louisiana, Huey Long, nicknamed “Kingfish”, is fatally shot in the Louisiana State Capitol building. He died two days later.
Siege of Leningrad Begins
German forces surrounded Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and began a siege that would last 872 days. The siege continued until 27 January 1944, when the Soviet Leningrad-Novgorod Strategic Offensive expelled German forces from the southern outskirts of the city. The siege was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history and possibly the costliest in terms of casualties. The Germans suffered 579,985 casualties, the Soviets 3,436,066 and over 1 million Soviet civilians died.
Star Trek Premiers on NBC
The original Star Trek ran for three seasons on NBC. It was followed by an animated series, four spin-off television series and twelve feature films.
A thirteenth theatrical feature has been confirmed for release in July 2016, to coincide with the franchise’s 50th anniversary.
Kennedy Center Opens with Leonard Bernstein
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts opened in Washington,D.C. with the premier of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass.” Today it is the busiest performing arts facility in the United States and annually hosts approximately 2,000 performances for audiences totaling nearly two million; Center-related touring productions, television, and radio broadcasts welcome 20 million more.
Since 1978, the Kennedy Center Honors have been awarded annually by the Center’s Board of Trustees. Each year, five artists or groups are honored for their lifetime contributions to American culture and the performing arts, including dance, music, theater, opera, film, and television. The Center has awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor since 1998. The clip below is from the 35th KCH in 2012.
Black Friday Cements Opposition to the Shah
As anti-government protests grew, Iran’s Shad declared martial law on September 7, 1978. The next day, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Tehran’s Jaleh Square apparently unaware that martial law had been declared. When the crowd ignored orders to disperse, soldiers opened fire killing 86, although media reports at that time reported as many as 15,000 killed. The event, which is known as “Black Friday”, is viewed as a turning point in the Iranian revolution for it united opposition to the Shah and led to a general strike the following month that shut down the nation’s petroleum industry and essentially “sealed the Shah’s fate.” The Shah ultimately fled Iran the following January.
Claude Pepper (1900)
Claude Pepper (September 8, 1900 – May 30, 1989) represented Florida in the United States Senate from November 4, 1936, to January 3, 1951, and the Miami area in the United States House of Representatives from January 3, 1963 until his death on May 30, 1989. In 1977, he became chair of the new House Select Committee on Aging, which became his base as he emerged as the nation’s foremost spokesman for the elderly, especially regarding Social Security programs.
In 2000, the United States Postal Service issued a 33¢ Distinguished Americans series postage stamp honoring Pepper.