Saturday, June 6, 2015

Holidays and Observances for June 6 2015

D-Day


Although the term D-Day is used routinely as military lingo for the day an operation or event will take place, for many it is also synonymous with June 6, 1944, the day the Allied powers crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, beginning the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control during World War II. Within three months, the northern part of France would be freed and the invasion force would be preparing to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces moving in from the east.

With Hitler's armies in control of most of mainland Europe, the Allies knew that a successful invasion of the continent was central to winning the war. Hitler knew this too, and was expecting an assault on northwestern Europe in the spring of 1944. He hoped to repel the Allies from the coast with a strong counterattack that would delay future invasion attempts, giving him time to throw the majority of his forces into defeating the Soviet Union in the east. Once that was accomplished, he believed an all-out victory would soon be his.

On the morning of June 5, 1944, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. On his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England for the trip to France. That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion.

By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day's end, 155,000 Allied troops--Americans, British and Canadians--had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches. 

For their part, the Germans suffered from confusion in the ranks and the absence of celebrated commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was away on leave. At first, Hitler, believing that the invasion was a feint designed to distract the Germans from a coming attack north of the Seine River, refused to release nearby divisions to join the counterattack and reinforcements had to be called from further afield, causing delays. He also hesitated in calling for armored divisions to help in the defense. In addition, the Germans were hampered by effective Allied air support, which took out many key bridges and forced the Germans to take long detours, as well as efficient Allied naval support, which helped protect advancing Allied troops. 

Though it did not go off exactly as planned, as later claimed by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery--for example, the Allies were able to land only fractions of the supplies and vehicles they had intended in France--D-Day was a decided success. By the end of June, the Allies had 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were poised to continue their march across Europe.

The heroism and bravery displayed by troops from the Allied countries on D-Day has served as inspiration for several films, most famously The Longest Day (1962) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). It was also depicted in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers (2001).

Drive-in Movie Day


On this day in 1933, eager motorists park their automobiles on the grounds of Park-In Theaters, the first-ever drive-in movie theater, located on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey.

Park-In Theaters--the term "drive-in" came to be widely used only later--was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, a movie fan and a sales manager at his father's company, Whiz Auto Products, in Camden. Reportedly inspired by his mother's struggle to sit comfortably in traditional movie theater seats, Hollingshead came up with the idea of an open-air theater where patrons watched movies in the comfort of their own automobiles. He then experimented in the driveway of his own house with different projection and sound techniques, mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, pinning a screen to some trees, and placing a radio behind the screen for sound. He also tested ways to guard against rain and other inclement weather, and devised the ideal spacing arrangement for a number of cars so that all would have a view of the screen.

The young entrepreneur received a patent for the concept in May of 1933 and opened Park-In Theaters, Inc. less than a month later, with an initial investment of $30,000. Advertising it as entertainment for the whole family, Hollingshead charged 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person, with no group paying more than one dollar. The idea caught on, and after Hollingshead's patent was overturned in 1949, drive-in theaters began popping up all over the country. One of the largest was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York, which featured parking space for 2,500 cars, a kid's playground and a full service restaurant, all on a 28-acre lot.

Drive-in theaters showed mostly B-movies--that is, not Hollywood's finest fare--but some theaters featured the same movies that played in regular theaters. The initially poor sound quality--Hollingshead had mounted three speakers manufactured by RCA Victor near the screen--improved, and later technology made it possible for each car's to play the movie's soundtrack through its FM radio. The popularity of the drive-in spiked after World War II and reached its heyday in the late 1950s to mid-60s, with some 5,000 theaters across the country. Drive-ins became an icon of American culture, and a typical weekend destination not just for parents and children but also for teenage couples seeking some privacy. Since then, however, the rising price of real estate, especially in suburban areas, combined with the growing numbers of walk-in theaters and the rise of video rentals to curb the growth of the drive-in industry. Today, fewer than 500 drive-in theaters survive in the United States.

National Gardening Exercise Day


National Gardening Exercise Day is celebrated on June 6th of each year.

Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants as part of horticulture. In gardens, ornamental plants are often grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance; useful plants, such as root vegetables, leaf vegetables, fruits, and herbs, are grown for consumption, for use as dyes, or for medicinal or cosmetic use. Gardening is considered to be a relaxing activity for many people.

Gardening ranges in scale from fruit orchards, to long boulevard plantings with one or more different types of shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants, to residential yards including lawns and foundation plantings, to plants in large or small containers grown inside or outside. Gardening may be very specialized, with only one type of plant grown, or involve a large number of different plants in mixed plantings. It involves an active participation in the growing of plants, and tends to be labor-intensive, which differentiates it from farming or forestry.

National Trails Day


National Trails Day will be on June 6.

If you feel like you get something meaningful out of the time you spend on your favorite trails or in your favorite parks, NTD is a great chance to give something back to those special places -- think of it as a big work party, or sometimes just a plain old big party, for anyone and everyone that loves the great outdoors.

All you have to do is find an organization near you that's already putting on a National Trails Day volunteer event -- think nature/science/outdoor centers, state and national parks or forests, and hiking-related clubs.

If there aren't any events near you, get a few friends together and contact local rangers or land managers -- odds are very good that they have something they'd love a little help with.

National Trails Day is more than a chance to put in a couple hours of volunteer time. It's also a great way to meet new hiking buddies and spend some time outside. Depending on where you're helping out, the "jobs" range from pretty heavy grunt work (rebuilding bridges and clearing trails) to light work like replanting native plants on disturbed ground, or gardening and painting around nature centers.

As long as you steer clear of the grunt work crews, these are usually very family friendly events -- so if you have kids, bring them along! Many groups that host National Trails Day work parties also offer food and maybe even swag (prizes) afterward... just in case you need any more motivation to go!

And if you'd rather log some miles, there are plenty of guided hikes taking place for National Trails Day too.

The American Hiking Society -- the folks behind National Trails Day -- offers a list of NTD events searchable by state and organization, or just use their map to find something near you. But that's only scratching the surface -- if you keep your eyes peeled to local activity calendars or do a little Googling, you can usually find lots of other local opportunities to get out and help.

National Yo-yo Day




National Yo-Yo Day is celebrated on June 6th of each year in honor of Donald Duncan Sr., the entrepreneur who brought mass-produced yo-yos to the United States. However, it was later found that Donald Duncan Sr.’s birthday is actually June 8th.

The yo-yo in its simplest form is an object consisting of an axle connected to two disks, and a length of string looped around the axle, similar to a slender spool. It is played by holding the free end of the string known as the handle (usually by inserting one finger in a slip knot) allowing gravity or the force of a throw to spin the yo-yo and unwind the string (similar to how a pullstring works), then allowing the yo-yo to wind itself back to one’s hand, exploiting its spin (and the associated rotational energy). This is often called “yo-yoing”. First made popular in the 1920s, yo-yoing remains a popular pastime of many generations and cultures. It was first invented in ancient Greece.

In the simplest play, the string is intended to be wound on the spool by hand; The yo-yo is thrown downwards, hits the end of the string, then winds up the string toward the hand, and finally the yo-yo is grabbed, ready to be thrown again. One of the most basic tricks is called the sleeper, where the yo-yo spins at the end of the string for a noticeable amount of time before returning to the hand.

Many yo-yo tricks are done while the yo-yo is said to be sleeping. One of the most famous tricks on the yo-yo is “walk the dog”. This is done by throwing a strong sleeper and allowing the yo-yo to roll across the floor, before tugging it back to the hand. English historical names for the yo-yo include bandalore (from French) and quiz. French historical terms include bandalore, incroyable, de Coblenz, emigrette, and joujou de Normandie (joujou meaning little toy).