August 11 is Presidential Joke Day

presidential joke dayToday is Presidential Joke Day. On August 11, 1984, while preparing to give a weekly radio address from his ranch in California, Ronald Reagan was asked to do a routine sound check.

Although the president enjoyed telling jokes about Russia, on that morning his remark was meant only for the sound engineers getting ready for the National Public Radio broadcast. Instead of counting “one, two, three” and so on, the president said:

My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation which will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.

The comment was captured on tape and leaked to the media, then the world. NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw reported that on August 15, 1984, a coded message sent from Soviet headquarters placed troops on wartime alert, stating, “We now embark on military action against the U.S. forces.”

The alert was withdrawn 30 minutes later, after ships in the North Pacific contacted headquarters to question their orders. The official word from the Kremlin claimed that someone in the Far Eastern Command had declared a state of war without authorization.

Some U.S. officials believed the Soviet government had sanctioned the action to retaliate against Reagan’s offensive words. Others thought it was a joke. One speculated the culprit had been drunk. We’ll never know because the guilty party was never revealed.

Setting aside its questionable humor value, we must conclude that Ronald Reagan’s joke is the most powerful ever told because the hard feelings it engendered could have caused a nuclear war.

Hear the quip here. Have a happy Presidential Joke Day and remember: Always, always, always assume the mic is live and don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to hear on the six o’clock news!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays


August 9 is National Veep Day

Today is National Veep Day. On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon became the first (and only) U.S. president to resign from office.

Vice President Gerald Ford assumed the office in accordance with Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the U.S. Constitution:national veep day

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

As president, Gerald Ford immediately issued a pardon for all crimes Nixon “committed or may have committed” while in office. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Happy National Veep Day!


Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

August 7 is Purple Heart Day

Today is Purple Heart Day. On August 7, 1782, at his headquarters in Newburgh, NY, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, ordered the creation of a Badge of Military Merit.

purple heart day

Replica of original badge

The badge consisted of a purple, heart-shaped piece of cloth with the word MERIT embroidered in silver across the front. It was awarded to soldiers who showed “not only instances of unusual gallantry in battle, but also extraordinary fidelity and services in any way.”

Only three soldiers who fought in the American Revolutionary War received the decoration: Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel Bissell, Jr. Afterward, it was largely forgotten until General Douglas MacArthur lobbied to revive it.

On February 22, 1932, the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the “Order of the Purple Heart.”
purple heart day
The medal bears the image of Washington and his coat of arms. It’s presented to members of the military who have been “wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces.”

The Purple Heart has been a symbol of bravery and sacrifice since the founding of the United States. Today’s holiday serves as a reminder to honor our veterans.


Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

August 5 is Curiosity Day

Today is Curiosity Day. On August 5, 2012, NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity landed on the red planet after a procedure so complicated its engineers dubbed it Seven Minutes of Terror.

On November 26, 2011, an unmanned spacecraft carrying the 1,982-pound SUV-sized rover launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. After traveling 354 million miles, it entered Mars’ thin atmosphere, its heat shield reaching 1,600 degrees as the craft slowed from 13,000 to 1,000 mph. A supersonic parachute deployed to decrease the speed further, to 200 mph.

The shield was jettisoned to allow the ship’s radar to “see” the surface. Rockets fired to slow the rate of descent to several feet per second. They couldn’t get too close to the surface because of the dust cloud they would create, potentially damaging Curiosity’s sensitive equipment.

To solve this problem, engineers designed a carrier they called a “sky crane,” which used the rockets to hover at a safe height while gently lowering the rover the rest of the way via cable. (Another nickname: “rover on a rope.”) Once it was deposited on the ground,  the carrier severed the tether and veered away, crashing into the surface several hundred yards away.

The process from atmospheric entry to touchdown took seven minutes. There was a 13.8-minute delay receiving signals at Mission Control; there could be no intervention from Earth, so there was no margin for error. The outcome had already occurred. Everyone involved with the $2.5 billion project waited helplessly until the signal reached them: Curiosity had made it.

The rover is equipped with a small nuclear power plant designed to generate electricity for 14 years. Since landing, its instruments have discovered carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur in rock, methane in the atmosphere and the remains of an ancient streambed. All are indicators that life may have existed there in the past.

It has also sent back some great selfies like this one combining multiple images taken with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of its robotic arm. ( See how here.)

curiosity day

Another of the rover’s instruments is the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), which utilizes vibrating plates to move soil samples through the chemistry module. On August 5, 2012, engineers directed them to produce musical notes and “sing” Happy Birthday to Curiosity.

We can’t help but be inspired by people with the vision, ingenuity and gumption to take on the challenge of the seemingly impossible and not give up until they achieve it. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory uses the phrase “Dare Mighty Things” at the end of its Seven Minutes video. It’s taken from a speech by President Theodore Roosevelt:

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

If we work together, is there anything humanity can’t do?

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays