Sunday, September 14, 2014

Holidays and Observances for September 14 2014

National Anthem Day

The famous words were written 200 years ago this week, but it didn't become the national anthem until 1931 — and not everyone was happy about it when it did.

Exactly 200 years ago this weekend, on Sept. 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key, a lawyer from Georgetown, found himself on a ship in Baltimore’s harbor as the War of 1812 raged around him.

On Aug. 24, 1814, the British army had invaded Washington, D.C. The Capitol building and the White House were burned, and the Brits turned to nearby Baltimore, firing on the harbor’s Fort McHenry on Sept. 13. It was in the midst of that battle that Key, who had been negotiating for the release of a prisoner of war, was at sea. At dawn on Sept. 14, the American flag still flew over the fort; the British were in retreat. Key’s poem about what he saw, which he set to an earlier tune by John Stafford Smith, came to be known as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

But Key hadn't written the American national anthem. In fact, for more than a century after that day, America had no national anthem at all.

The “Star-Spangled Banner” did quickly gain popularity, however, and military bands during the Civil War and World War I used it as a de facto anthem — even though officially it was just another patriotic ditty like the rest. The effort to acquire a national anthem gained speed following World War I, as can be traced through early mentions of the song in TIME. In 1925, the magazine reprinted an anti-“Banner” letter from a man who found it “hurtful to every ideal which Americans cherish” in its violence (particularly toward Britain, an ally) and who said that he would refuse to remove his hat while the song was played. The other camp was represented by people like John C. Wright, whose 1929 letter to the magazine is shown above:

As Wright’s letter makes clear, one of the main concerns with naming “The Star-Spangled Banner” the anthem was that, with its octave-and-a-half range, it was just too hard to sing. That was why, in Feb. 1930, the pro-“Banner” crowd invited the U.S. Navy Band to perform the song for the House Judiciary Committee. “Two sopranos sang all its four verses to prove that its words were not difficult, that its pitch was not too high,” TIME reported. And, whether or not that was the deciding factor, it worked.

On Mar. 3, 1931, President Hoover signed the bill into law, and the U.S. had an anthem for the first time. But two sopranos do not a nation make — and history has shown that, despite its other virtues, the song isn't exactly easy to sing. These ten terrible national anthem renditions are proof enough of that.

National Cream-Filled Donut Day

September 14th is National Cream Filled Donut Day, a day to temporarily abandon your diet and seek out an oozing bakery confection that will make your taste buds tingle. The history of donuts is a disputed topic but the sweet snacks most likely made their way to North America via the Dutch settlers who also helped popularize cookies, pies, and cobbler. American Hansen Gregory claimed to have created the first ring-shaped donut in 1847 and taught the technique to his mother. These early donuts were very much like the traditional donuts that we eat today. While glazed donuts dominate the market, cream-filled donuts are a close second, with the most popular fillings listed as vanilla cream and chocolate cream.

I can’t say I've ever met anybody that doesn't like a donut every now and then. We were certainly more than happy to celebrate National Donut Day back in June. I’m always game for devouring a glazed donut, but I’m particularly partial to delicious twisted crullers and cream filled donuts. Damion, on the other hand, prefers a simple chocolate glazed donut. The only type of donut he really dislikes is a filled “boston cream pie” donut, which incidentally happens to be one of my all-time favorites. That’s okay though: I hate jelly filled donuts and Damion thinks their yummy. Maybe opposites really do attract.

To celebrate Cream Filled Donut Day we took a trip to Krispy Kreme (after I put in a hard workout at the gym, picturing my upcoming donut the entire time I was on the elliptical). Damion ran in and picked up two cream filled donuts for us to share – one with vanilla cream filling and one with chocolate cream filling. Even though we’d both been looking forward to our desserts all day, once we got home we got busy and the donuts had to wait. By the time I had showered and we’d eaten dinner it was almost ten o’clock! Finally, before we got too tired, Damion and I settled down to savor our donuts before the day drew to a close. If only I could end every night on such a sweet note…and still fit into my pants.

National Hug Your Hound Day

Although the dog days of summer are almost over, the second Sunday in September is going to the dogs – literally. It’s National Hug Your Hound Day!

Whether you share your life with a pit bull, bloodhound, great big Great Dane or tiny chihuahua, today’s “howliday” celebrates those loyal and faithful companions we love so much. This annual dog day serves as a reminder of the importance of keeping our four-legged friends happy, healthy and safe.

National Hug Your Hound Day also shines the spotlight on our four-legged friends that rest their paws in urban areas. While wide open spaces and the wild outdoors may not be available to city-dwelling dogs, you and Fido can still enjoy parks, lakes and other aspects of urban nature no matter where you reside.

According to the founder of National Hug Your Hound Day, Canine Behaviorist and author Ami Moore:
“We desire to increase the acceptance of dogs, leashed and unleashed, into all of the public spaces of our cities: taxis, restaurants, stores and malls. Our goal is that the physical, mental and emotional health benefits of dog ownership and companionship be available to everyone, everywhere, all the time, just as they are in the great cities of Europe."
With love, guidance, patience and training, well-mannered dogs add so much to our lives. In honor of today’s holiday, give Fido a great big hug and do something extra special just for him!

Dogs and cats need our help. With many shelters across America being filled to capacity, please consider opening your heart and home to one of the many pets available for adoption – before it’s too late. September is also Happy Cat Month.

National Pet Memorial Day

Sometimes the most significant members of our family are often the smallest. For most people, pets are more than just animals. They are our best friends, our cherished family members, and our "kids.” We love them and value their importance just as much as that of our human family. Why, then, should it not be just as important for the ones we've lost to have a day of remembrance dedicated specifically to them?

This was the same thought that ran through the minds of International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories members when they decided to designate the second Sunday in September as National Pet Memorial Day. It is a day where pet lovers can remember their lost friends and show their appreciation for the love, memories, and joy their pets gave them throughout their lives. National Pet Memorial Day is now celebrated by hundreds of people all over the United States.
There are many ways to celebrate the memories of our lost loved ones and remember the times we spent together:
  • Pictures - Whether just browsing through a collection of photographs, making a scrapbook in their honor, or framing our favorites, pictures are a great way to remember our lost pets. They physically capture the wonderful times we had with them and often refresh memories that may be become fuzzy or even lost altogether.
  • Plant a Tree in Their Honor - Try planting a tree on top of their grave. As you watch the tree grow, it will give you a little satisfaction in helping the environment and seeing your pet grow with it.
  • Revisit Their Favorite Things - Many owners keep their favorite bowls and toys in a special place and take them out every once in a while to revisit old memories. These items were very important to your pet and hold so many fond memories that they often provide some emotional relief.
  • Contribute To a Charitable Organization - A great way to remember your pet is to make a donation to or volunteer at an animal-based charity or rescue group. There are so many animals out there in need of good homes so they can become cherished family members to other families. Charities and rescue groups protect these homeless pets and ensure their safety.
Remember when planning a memorial for your pet, the thought is what really counts. Keeping your loved one’s memory alive is the most important thing and no matter what you choose, there is no wrong way to do so. This year, take a few minutes out of your day to sit down and think about the wonderful animals that enriched your life.