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9:45AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
10:15AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
12:30PM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet for lunch
Private Dining Room
Early drug discovery and the rise of pharmaceutical chemistry
Studies in the field of forensic pharmacology and toxicology would not be complete without some knowledge of the history of drug discovery, the various personalities involved, and the events leading to the development and introduction of new therapeutic agents. The first medicinal drugs came from natural sources and existed in the form of herbs, plants, roots, vines and fungi. Until the mid-nineteenth century nature's pharmaceuticals were all that were available to relieve man's pain and suffering. The first synthetic drug, chloral hydrate, was discovered in 1869 and introduced as a sedative-hypnotic it is still available today in some countries. The first pharmaceutical companies were spin-offs from the textiles and synthetic dye industry and owe much to the rich source of organic chemicals derived from the distillation of coal (coal-tar). The first analgesics and antipyretics, exemplified by phenacetin and acetanilide, were simple chemical derivatives of aniline and p-nitrophenol, both of which were byproducts from coal-tar. An extract from the bark of the white willow tree had been used for centuries to treat various fevers and inflammation. The active principle in white willow, salicin or salicylic acid, had a bitter taste and irritated the gastric mucosa, but a simple chemical modification was much more palatable. This was acetylsalicylic acid, better known as Aspirin®, the first blockbuster drug. At the start of the twentieth century, the first of the barbiturate family of drugs entered the pharmacopoeia and the rest, as they say, is history.
Important Events From This day in History September 28th
1923 : This years Schneider Seaplane cup held each year along the sea front at Portsmouth England has been won by an American aircraft against the rest of the world in a time of 1 hr 12 minutes and 45 seconds, the numbers of aircraft competing this year increased yet again and crowds of spectators lined the beaches watching the race.
1924 : Two U.S. Army planes landed in Seattle, Washington, completing the first round-the-world flight in 175 days. The flight had begun from Seattle on April 6th with three aircraft named "Chicago, Boston, and New Orleans." The Boston came down while crossing the Atlantic. The Chicago flown by (Lt. Lowell Smith (pilot) and 1st Lt. Leslie Arnold) and the New Orleans flown by (Lt. Erik Nelson (pilot) and Lt. Jack Harding) completed the journey.
More about the First Around-the-World Flight
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1928 : While working at his laboratory at St Mary's Hospital, London Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin by accident when he noticed that many of his culture dishes were contaminated with a fungus that had a positive anti bacterial effect on multiple organisms providing the basic block for the start of modern antibiotics. Many believe that the discovery of penicillin is one of the most important discoveries of the last century.
March 6, 1775 – Prince Hall, was made a Master Mason in Irish Constitution Military Lodge No. 441
March 12, 1807 – Albert Gallatin Mackey – d. June 20, 1881 – Masonic Author, notably of the Masonic Dictionary
March 17, 1856 – Grand Lodge of Kansas established, Wyandotte County, Kansasº
March 18, 1919 – Order of DeMolay founded in Kansas City, Missouri, later to become DeMolay International
March 25, 1882 – Grand Lodge of Arizona was established in Tucson
A Feast Day that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. Maundy Thursday move between March 19th and April 22nd with the Easter holiday. Celebration is held on the Thursday before Easter.
National History Day 2011!
It’s the middle of the school year, and already students and teachers are beginning to do research for their National History Day projects. This year the theme is “Debate & Diplomacy: Successes, Failures, Consequences.”
One of the great things about NHD is that these projects encourage middle and high school students to use primary sources in their research. The Education Staff at the National Archives tries to reach out to teachers and students to help them use primary resources in the classroom. Many of these sources are available online. Our newly redesigned website features a section just for teachers and students.
We also have pages devoted to National History Day. Check out our page for this year’s theme: National History Day Topics in ARC. We have compiled a list of potential topics and provided links to help you search in our Archival Research Catalog (ARC).
In addition to searching in ARC, you can also check out DocsTeach, a website designed to help teachers introduce primary resources into classroom activities. DocsTeach is also ready for National History Day. You can look at the documents, related to this year’s theme, by entering “nhd1011” into the search box or by clicking here.
Veterans Day 2012: Why It's Technically Not on Monday and How It's Changed
As the U.S. honors Veterans Day, find out why it happens in November, why it doesn't fall on a Monday, and some simple ways to mark the day.
At Veterans Day events across the country, people in the United States gathered today to honor the millions of men and women who have served or are serving in the nation's armed forces.
But why was November 11 set aside for the holiday, and how has its meaning changed over time?
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, and the date was chosen for its symbolic significance, John Raughter, communications director for the American Legion, an organization of veterans helping other veterans, said in 2010.
"November 11 was intended to observe the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, which marked the armistice of World War I," Raughter said. (Related: "Veterans Say Dogs of War Deserve a Memorial.")
The first Armistice Day in the U.S. occurred on November 11, 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson declared that "to us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory. . "
Armistice Day was declared a legal holiday by Congress nearly 20 years later. In 1954 the name was changed to Veterans Day, following a national campaign to have the day honor all veterans, not just those who served in World War I.
Why Poppies for Armistice Day?
Veterans Day is still celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, including the United Kingdom and other past and present nations of the British Commonwealth.
World War I veterans are remembered by the wearing of real and artificial red poppies, like those found in Belgium, in reference to "In Flanders Fields," the name of a popular World War I poem eulogizing fallen soldiers. Armistice Day is also marked with two minutes of silence at 11:00 a.m.
For honoring service members in general, the U.K. has its own Veterans Day—renamed Armed Forces Day in 2009—which falls in June of each year.
How Veterans Day Stands Apart
In the U.S., Veterans Day was moved, by a 1968 act of Congress, to the fourth Monday in October.
This shift of Veterans Day—as well as similar moves for Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day—started in 1971 and was designed to create a three-day weekend for government employees.
The Veterans Day long weekend, though, was resisted by many states, localities, and veteran's groups. By 1978 Veterans Day was again rescheduled for annual observance on November 11.
Veterans Day remains a related but unique holiday from Memorial Day, which falls on the last Monday of May each year.
"Veterans Day is to honor and observe the sacrifices made by all veterans, whereas Memorial Day is to honor the fallen—those who have given their lives for the defense of this country," said Raughter, who served in the Marine Corps from 1983 to 1990.
Today Veterans Day in the U.S. is marked by parades and remembrance events across the country. (See pictures of Arlington National Cemetery, site of the annual U.S. national Veterans Day ceremony.)
Not surprisingly, it's also a busy day for war museums, such as the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
On November 10 and 11, 2012, all veterans will receive free admission to the museum, which is also hosting a Celebration of Heroes to honor the service of all veterans in attendance, according to the museum's website.
On any day, museum spokesperson Kacey Hill encourages people to seek out and spend time with a veteran, especially WWII vets, a population that is slowly disappearing. In 2000 the number of living U.S. WWII veterans was estimated at 5.5 million. Today there are fewer than two million WWI veterans thought to be alive.
"I think, in general, it's a holiday that a lot of people don't necessarily think about," Hill said in 2010.
"But something as simple as finding one veteran and saying thank you, it doesn't just light up their life, but it's amazing how good you feel when you see their reaction."
And the American Legion's Raughter believes that Veterans Day is "a day to teach young people about the sacrifices made by their fathers and grandfathers, uncles and neighbors, and mothers and grandmothers."
"It's about making sure that when the children of today hear the history lessons and traditions of our great country, they know that it would not be possible without veterans."
Neptune’s Spear: On This Day in 2011, Navy SEALs Kill Osama bin Laden
Operation Neptune’s Spear. One of the most daring raids in U.S. Special Operations history in which U.S. Navy SEALs of SEAL Team Six, or DEVGRU, raided the compound of Osama bin Laden in Abbottobad, Pakistan, and killed the terrorist leader, who was living less than a mile from the Pakistani military academy.
The raid took place at 1:00 a.m. on May 2 in Pakistan but in the U.S., it was mid-afternoon on May 1. The operation, called “Neptune Spear,” was a joint CIA and JSOC operation with SEALs and aviators from the 160 th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the Night Stalkers) flying specially designed stealth helicopters.
The operation was in the works for several years before it was finally unleashed by President Obama.
The Intelligence Preparation
The CIA had found out the name of bin Laden’s courier as early as 2007. This was considered a high-value intelligence coup because the CIA learned through their Black sites and interrogations at Guantanamo Bay that bin Laden communicated only via couriers. He stopped using phones since the U.S. tracked a cell phone of one of his subordinates and launched a missile strike on the location in Afghanistan back in 1998.
The courier was named Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed according to Pakistani officials and his brother lived at the Abbottobad compound with bin Laden. The CIA picked up a wiretap of another individual and CIA paramilitary operatives tracked the man back to the compound.
The compound then came under intense scrutiny. The CIA had a female analyst that had been on bin Laden’s trail for nearly five years. She earned the team and superiors’ respect and believed with 100 percent certainty, that bin Laden was living there with his youngest wife and children. The compound was built around 2004-2005 and was at the end of a long, narrow dirt road outside of the main area of Abbottobad and about 100 miles from Afghanistan.
The compound cost about a million dollars to build and was constructed on a plot of land much larger than the surrounding properties. Walls 12-18 feet high surrounded it topped with two feet of barbed wire. There were two security gates and the property had no telephone or internet service. Unlike their neighbors, the inhabitants didn’t put their trash out for collection but burned it inside the compound.
Read Next: Navy SEALs | The Complete Guide
Osama bin Laden’s compound. (PA)
The family lived on the second and third floors of the structure. The third-floor balcony had a seven-foot-high privacy wall installed to conceal the tall (6″) bin Laden. The “principal” was seen in intelligence photos every day pacing in the garden that was partially covered with a tarp. The CIA analysts called him “the Pacer.” But the photos couldn’t positively identify the target.
In trying to gather more intelligence, the CIA used a fake polio vaccination program to gain entrance to the compound and rented a home nearby where they could keep up surveillance on the potential target.
Despite intense efforts, the CIA was never able to get a picture of the third-floor inhabitant or a recording of his voice. But after exhaustive intelligence analysis, the CIA deemed that only bin Laden could be living there.
Planning Neptune’s Spear
The planning fell to Admiral William McRaven of JSOC. He assigned a Navy captain from DEVGRU to set up the plan of a raid with the help of the CIA at the agency’s HQs in Langley, VA.
There was also talk of using B-2 Stealth bombers. But the with that suggestion was that they’d have no way of confirming the death of bin Laden after the raid. Further, the use of the 2,000-pound radar-guided JDAM munitions was sure to cause civilian casualties in the area.
Additionally, the idea of using the Pakistanis in a joint operation was quickly discounted as everyone up the chain of command believed that leaks would quickly follow compromising the mission.
Since the U.S. wasn’t at a war with Pakistan, the members of the team were taken off their military roles and placed as civilians under the CIA’s control for the duration of the mission.
The agency and DEVGRU built a mockup of the compound in Harvey Point Defense Testing facility in North Carolina and another in Nevada. The SEALs still were not told who their target or its location was. Nevada was chosen because, at a 4,000-foot altitude, it would be close to the actual altitude of the target thus testing the helicopters’ capabilities. Also, a full-scale replica was built in Afghanistan at Bagram Air Base.
Read Next: Bin Laden’s Head Had to Be Reconstructed After Take Down, Book Says
The raid team arrived on April 27 at Jalalabad where Neptune’s Spear would be based out of. A CH-47 Chinook helicopter with a quick reaction force (QRF) would be placed nearby in case the unit had to fight its way out of Pakistan. The entire operation was to last 40 minutes.
The order was given at 1:22 p.m. EST on May 1 for Adm. McRaven to proceed with the raid. The president and members of his cabinet watched the events unfold from the Situation Room at the White House via a drone flying overhead.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. (DoD)
Neptune’s Spear Unfolds
The raid force consisted of 79 operators and a dog. The dog team was to be used if there were hidden rooms or compartments that needed to be searched. The Chinook with the QRF of 24 SEAL operators landed in a deserted field about halfway to Abbottobad in case they were needed on the ground. Another QRF of an additional 25 SEALs in Chinooks would be waiting just over the border in Afghanistan.
After a 90-minute flight, the first of the Blackhawks deployed over the compound from where the SEALs were to fast rope to the ground. A second helicopter was to land in the compound with the dog team and interpreter. However, due to a weather phenomenon, the first Blackhawk crashed into the compound sliding up onto the security wall. No one was seriously hurt. The second landed outside the compound. The operators scaled the wall and began the operation.
Using an assortment of breaching tools and explosives the teams began clearing the compound in a methodical dance of death. The SEALs cleared the guest house and the ground floor of the main building where two men and a woman were dispatched quickly. Numerous other women and children were encountered. They were flex-cuffed and moved outside where they’d later be found and questioned by the Pakistanis.
The SEALs moved to the second level of the main building where they killed bin Laden’s son on the staircase before moving up to the top floor. There they found bin Laden wearing the traditional loose-fitting garb of the region. Later it was found out that he carried 500 Euros and two phone numbers sewn into the lining of his clothes.
Nearly 15 minutes had elapsed from when the SEALs crash-landed in the compound until they came face-to-face with bin Laden on the third floor.
The killing of bin Laden is described in detail by Navy SEAL Mark Bisonette, who was later reprimanded by the Navy and forced to give up his $6.8 million in royalties from the book. But his first-hand account was riveting.
When the team reached the top, bin Laden was behind his wife, with his hands on her shoulders, and was pushing her towards the SEALs. Bisonnette’s book describes in detail what happened next.
“We were less than five steps from getting to the top when I heard suppressed shots. BOP. BOP. The point man had seen a man peeking out of the door on the right side of the hallway about 10 feet in front of him. I couldn’t tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not. The man disappeared into the dark room.”
“In his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing. Another assaulter and I trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds. The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless.”
Bissonette’s role called for him to photograph the body to positively identify the target as bin Laden and confirm for the government that they had indeed got their man.
“It was strange to see such an infamous face up close. Lying in front of me was the reason we had been fighting for the last decade. It was surreal trying to clean blood off the most wanted man in the world so that I could shoot his photo. I had to focus on the mission, right now we needed some good quality photos.”
A SEAL (pseudonym Will) spoke Arabic and asked one of the children on the third floor who the dead man was. A child replied that it was indeed Osama bin Laden a fact that was confirmed by his wife who was lightly wounded in the foot.
“Will knelt down and asked the girls, ‘Who is the man?’ The girl didn’t know to lie. ‘Osama bin Laden.’ Will smiled. ‘Are you sure that is Osama bin Laden?’ Yes,’ the girl said.”
The SEAL team leader had a satellite phone. He immediately called Adm. McRaven to relay the code phrase signifying that bin Laden was dead.
“‘For God and country, I pass Geronimo,’ Jay said. Geronimo E.K.I.A.’ ”
Robert O’Neill, the SEAL who shot bin Laden and was the first in the room, has also written a book about the incident.
Then the team set about finding intelligence that they could bring back with them to Afghanistan. The SEALS recovered three AK-47s and two pistols, 10 computer hard drives, documents, DVDs, almost a hundred thumb drives, a dozen cell phones, and “electronic equipment” for later analysis as well as a large stash of opium.
The crashed helicopter was stripped of classified material and then blown in place, with the team placing enough explosives to completely demolish the crashed Blackhawk. Down one chopper, the team brought in one of the Chinooks to exfil them back to Afghanistan.
After arriving in Afghanistan, bin Laden was positively identified via facial recognition and DNA analysis. His body was transferred to the USS Carl Vinson where he was buried at sea. The U.S. had contacted Saudi contacts offered to turn bin Laden’s body over to them for burial in Saudi Arabia. But they didn’t want him in death any more than they did in life. They agreed with the burial at sea.
Neptune’s Spear Aftermath
Reports were being leaked out about bin Laden’s death so President Obama addressed the nation at 11:35 p.m. and confirmed the news.
“Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, and a terrorist who was responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.”
The president decided not to release the photos of bin Laden’s body stating that “we don’t have to spike the football here.” Despite the DNA evidence and confirmation from his wife and daughter at the scene, the non-release of the photos created a conspiracy theory claiming that he wasn’t dead.
The Pakistanis then began to do damage control. They arrested the owner of the CIA’s safe house and five Pakistani informants. The doctor who helped the CIA with the fake polio inoculation ruse was arrested and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Some of bin Laden’s correspondence was released but very little of it has come to light. One interesting tidbit was that bin Laden stated that both General David Petraeus and President Obama should be assassinated if the opportunity availed itself but that Vice President Joe Biden should remain untouched. Why?
In bin Laden’s own words, “Biden is totally unprepared for [the post of president], which will lead the U.S. into a crisis.”
Neptune’s Spear was one of the better-executed raids in U.S. Special Operations history. The detailed planning, outstanding execution, and professionalism of all of the operators involved, even when things went wrong as they invariably do, is a testament to their level of training and their dedication to their craft.
In doing so, they rid the world of one of history’s worst terrorists.
This piece was originally published in May 2017. It is being republished to mark the anniversary of Operation Neptune’s Spear. It has been edited for republication.
Thanksgiving 2011 Myths and Facts
Before the big dinner, debunk the myths—for starters, the first "real" Thanksgiving wasn't until the 1800s—and get to the roots of Thanksgiving 2011.
Before the big dinner, debunk the myths—for starters, the first "real" U.S. Thanksgiving wasn't until the 1800s—and get to the roots of Thanksgiving 2011.
Thanksgiving Dinner: Recipe for Food Coma?
Key to any Thanksgiving Day menu are a fat turkey and cranberry sauce.
An estimated 248 million turkeys will be raised for slaughter in the U.S. during 2011, up 2 percent from 2010's total, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Last year's birds were worth about U.S. $4.37 billion.
About 46 million turkeys ended up on U.S. dinner tables last Thanksgiving—or about 736 million pounds (334 million kilograms) of turkey meat, according to estimates from the National Turkey Federation. (See the Green Guide's suggestions for having a greener—and more grateful—Thanksgiving.)
Minnesota is the United States' top turkey-producing state, followed by North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and Indiana.
These "big six" states produce two of every three U.S.-raised birds, according to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.
U.S. farmers will also produce 750 million pounds (340 million kilograms) of cranberries in 2011, which, like turkeys, are native to the Americas. The top producers are Wisconsin and Massachusetts.
The U.S. will also grow 2.4 billion pounds (1.09 billion kilograms) of sweet potatoes—many in North Carolina, California, and Louisiana—and will produce 1.1 billion pounds (499 million kilograms) of pumpkins.
Illinois, California, New York, and Ohio grow the most U.S. pumpkins.
But if you overeat at Thanksgiving dinner, there's a price to be paid for all this plenty: the Thanksgiving "food coma." The post-meal fatigue may be real, but the condition is giving turkeys a bad rap.
Contrary to myth, the amount of the organic amino acid tryptophan in most turkeys isn't responsible for drowsiness.
Instead, scientists blame booze, the sheer caloric size of an average feast, or just plain-old relaxing after stressful work schedules.
What Was on the First Thanksgiving Menu?
Little is known about the first Thanksgiving dinner in the Plimoth (also spelled Plymouth) Colony in October 1621, attended by some 50 English colonists and about 90 Wampanoag American Indian men in what is now Massachusetts.
We do know that the Wampanoag killed five deer for the feast, and that the colonists shot wild fowl—which may have been geese, ducks, or turkey. Some form, or forms, of Indian corn were also served.
But Jennifer Monac, spokesperson for the living-history museum Plimoth Plantation, said the feasters likely supplemented their venison and birds with fish, lobster, clams, nuts, and wheat flour, as well as vegetables such as pumpkin, squash, carrots, and peas.
"They ate seasonally," Monac said in 2009, "and this was the time of the year when they were really feasting. There were lots of vegetables around, because the harvest had been brought in."
Much of what we consider traditional Thanksgiving fare was unknown at the first Thanksgiving. Potatoes and sweet potatoes hadn't yet become staples of the English diet, for example. And cranberry sauce requires sugar—an expensive delicacy in the 1600s. Likewise, pumpkin pie went missing due to a lack of crust ingredients.
If you want to eat like a Pilgrim yourself, try some of the Plimoth Plantation's recipes, including stewed pompion (pumpkin) or traditional Wampanoag succotash.
First Thanksgiving Not a True Thanksgiving?
American Indian peoples, Europeans, and other cultures around the world often celebrated the harvest season with feasts to offer thanks to higher powers for their sustenance and survival.
In 1541 Spaniard Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his troops celebrated a "Thanksgiving" while searching for New World gold in what is now the Texas Panhandle.
Later such feasts were held by French Huguenot colonists in present-day Jacksonville, Florida (1564), by English colonists and Abnaki Indians at Maine's Kennebec River (1607), and in Jamestown, Virginia (1610), when the arrival of a food-laden ship ended a brutal famine.
It's the 1621 Plimoth Thanksgiving that's linked to the birth of our modern holiday. The truth is the first "real" Thanksgiving happened two centuries later.
Everything we know about the three-day Plimoth gathering comes from a description in a letter wrote by Edward Winslow, leader of the Plimoth Colony, in 1621, Monac said.
The letter had been lost for 200 years and was rediscovered in the 1800s, she added.
In 1841 Boston publisher Alexander Young printed Winslow's brief account of the feast and added his own twist, dubbing the 1621 feast the "First Thanksgiving."
In Winslow's "short letter, it was clear that [the 1621 feast] was not something that was supposed to be repeated again and again. It wasn't even a Thanksgiving, which in the 17th century was a day of fasting. It was a harvest celebration," Monac said.
But after its mid-1800s appearance, Young's designation caught on—to say the least.
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day a national holiday in 1863. He was probably swayed in part by magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale—the author of the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb"—who had suggested Thanksgiving become a holiday, historians say.
In 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt established the current date for observance, the fourth Thursday of November. (Learn how kids can give back this holiday season.)
Each year at least two lucky turkeys avoid the dinner table, thanks to a presidential pardon—a longstanding Washington tradition of an uncertain origin.
Since 1947, during the Truman Administration, the National Turkey Federation has presented two live turkeys—and a ready-to-eat turkey—to the President, federation spokesperson Sherrie Rosenblatt, said in 2009.
"There are two birds," Rosenblatt explained, "the presidential turkey and the vice presidential turkey, which is an alternate, in case the presidential turkey is unable to perform its duties."
Those duties pretty much boil down to not biting the President during the photo opportunity with the press. In 2008 the vice presidential bird, "Pumpkin," stepped in for the appearance with President Bush after the presidential bird, "Pecan," had fallen ill the night before.
The lucky birds once shared the same happy fate as Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks—a trip to Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch in California, where they lived out their natural lives.
Since 2010, however, the birds have followed in the footsteps of the first president and taken up residence at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.
After the holiday season, however, the two turkeys won't be on public display. These fat, farm-fed birds aren't historically accurate, like the wild birds that still roam the Virginia estate.
Pilgrims had been familiar with turkeys before they landed in the Americas.
That's because early European explorers of the New World had returned to Europe with turkeys in tow after encountering them at Native American settlements. Native Americans had domesticated the birds centuries before European contact.
A century later Ben Franklin famously made known his preference that the turkey, rather than the bald eagle, should be the official U.S. bird.
But Franklin might have been shocked when, by the 1930s, hunting had so decimated North American wild turkey populations that their numbers had dwindled to the tens of thousands, from a peak of at least tens of millions.
Today, thanks to reintroduction efforts and hunting regulations, wild turkeys are back.
Some seven million wild turkeys are thriving across the U.S., and many of them have adapted easily to the suburbs—their speed presumably an asset on ever encroaching roads.
Wild turkeys can run some 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 kilometers) an hour and fly in bursts at 55 miles (89 kilometers) an hour. Domesticated turkeys can't fly at all.
On Thanksgiving, Pass the Pigskin
For many U.S. citizens, Thanksgiving without football is as unthinkable as the Fourth of July without fireworks.
NBC Radio broadcast the first national Thanksgiving Day game in 1934, when the Detroit Lions hosted the Chicago Bears.
Except for a respite during World War II, the Lions have played-usually badly-every Thanksgiving Day since. For the 2011 game, the 72nd, they take on the Green Bay Packers.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
For a festive few, even turkey takes a backseat to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, originally called the Macy's Christmas parade, because it kicked off the shopping season.
The tradition began in 1924, when employees recruited animals from the Central Park Zoo to march on Thanksgiving Day.
Helium-filled balloons made their debut in the parade in 1927 and, in the early years, were released above the city skyline with the promise of rewards for their finders.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, first televised nationally in 1947, now draws some 44 million viewers-not counting the 3 million people who actually line the 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) Manhattan route.
Thanksgiving weekend also boasts the retail version of the Super Bowl—Black Friday, when massive sales and early opening times attract frugal shoppers.
A National Retail Federation survey projects that up to 152 million Americans will either brave the crowds to shop on 2011's Black Friday weekend or take advantage of online shopping sales.
Planes, Trains, and (Lots of) Automobiles
It may seem like everyone in the U.S. is on the road on Thanksgiving Day, keeping you from your turkey and stuffing.
Not everyone hits the road, but 42.5 million of about 308 million U.S. citizens will drive more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home for the 2011 holiday, according to the American Automobile Association.
An additional 3.4 million travelers will fly to their holiday destination and 900,000 others will use buses, trains, or other modes of travel. Thanksgiving travel numbers are slowly rebounding from a steep drop precipitated by the onset of the 2008 recession.
Thanksgiving North of the Border
Cross-border travelers can celebrate Thanksgiving twice, because Canada celebrates its own Thanksgiving Day the second Monday in October.
As in the U.S., the event is sometimes linked to a historic feast with which it has no real ties—in this case explorer Martin Frobisher's 1578 ceremony, which gave thanks for his safe arrival in what is now New Brunswick.
Canada's Thanksgiving, established in 1879, was inspired by the U.S. holiday. Dates of observance have fluctuated, sometimes coinciding with the U.S. Thanksgiving or the Canadian veteran-appreciation holiday, Remembrance Day—and at least once it occurred as late as December.
But Canada's colder climate eventually led to the 1957 decision that formalized the October date.
Day 2431September 6 2011 - History
I mentioned last week when I wrote about General Pershing’s 1920 visit to Rice that I had a few more good pictures of that event. Here are a couple of those. This was a very big day–you can tell just by the size of the crowd that this was an important visit–and there’s a lot going on in these photos. Most of the city’s important personages were present, including Mayor A.E. Amerman. Here’s Governor William P. Hobby getting in on the tree planting action, to Pershing’s obvious amusement:
And here’s a shot of Pershing and Lovett walking on campus. What’s interesting to me, though, is the proud carriage of Rice German professor Lyndsey Blayney (on the right in between Lovett and Pershing aide Colonel Aristide Moreno) who had served under Pershing in the Great War:
We have quite a few more photographs of this day, both professional pictures and snapshots taken by excited students and faculty. I’ve seen these pictures at least a dozen times, and have looked at them quite closely at least four or five times as I’ve tried to figure out who was who in each of them. But as I was scanning them yesterday I noticed something new. It’s a really small thing, such a tiny, tiny thing, the kind of thing you just notice and then forget. But I find I’m still thinking about it today, so I’ll show you. Remember this shot from last week?
I noted in passing that I could have dated the picture from the cowboy-type hats and high collars on all the men, which just scream 1919-1921. Zoom in on this and you’ll see everyone had them. But as I scanned this next photograph, I suddenly noticed that one guy didn’t bother with these fads: E.O. Lovett. (Even Blayney has them on in the shot above!) You can see what I’m talking about very clearly in this photo:
I don’t know what it means or if it even means anything at all. But I do know that it makes me like Lovett even more than I already did, which was considerable.
January 31-February 2, 2011 Historic Blizzard
Northern Illinois and northwest Indiana were walloped by one of the most powerful winter storms in history between January 31 and February 2, 2011. An initial period of light accumulating snow occurred from the evening of January 31st into the morning of February 1st, including lake effect snowfall over northeastern Illinois. The most memorable period of the storm occurred from the afternoon of February 1st through the early morning of February 2nd, when a powerful area of low pressure tracked slowly north. During this time, the snowstorm was accompanied by fierce winds, gusting to 50 to 60 mph, and even higher at times. The intense winds and heavy snow reduced visibility to near zero at times and produced widespread snowdrifts of 2 to 5 feet, and a few drifts of 10 feet or more. The storm was powerful enough to generate vigorous updrafts, resulting in lightning, thunder, and small hail.
Over the three day period, snowfall totaled 21.2 inches officially at Chicago&rsquos O&rsquoHare Airport, making it the third largest snowstorm on record for the city of Chicago.
The official total at Rockford Airport was 15.1 inches, which is also third on the all-time list for Rockford.
|NWS headlines in effect on the morning of February 1, 2011, with the large red footprint being Blizzard Warnings.|
Snowfall totals from the initial round of light snow and lake effect snow ranged from roughly a half inch to upwards of 4" in some locations over far northern Illinois. Meanwhile heavy snow from the storm was spreading into central Illinois from the south during the late morning. By evening rush hour, snow had overspread much of northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. Snow diminished over most areas during the late night and early morning hours of February 2, but a band of lake effect snow continued over the Chicago metro area into mid morning, and swung across northwest Indiana during the early to mid afternoon. Snowfall totals were generally 6 to 12 inches south of a line from Gibson City to Rensselaer, but one to two feet over most of northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. The blowing and drifting made snowfall measurement very challenging, even for the most experienced weather observers. In addition, the convective nature of the snow resulted in some variability of the snowfall intensity. Lake effect and lake enhancement generally made snowfall totals highest in Lake, McHenry, Cook, and DuPage Counties in Illinois, as well as Lake and Porter Counties in northwest Indiana.
|Listing of 3-day total snowfall reports from volunteer trained weather observers. These reports were as accurate as possible despite extremely difficult conditions to measure snowfall. Many thanks to our trained observers for their efforts!|
Chicago 6-Hour Snowfall Accumulation Amounts
Chicago O'Hare, IL
Snowfall Amount (inches)
Chicago O'Hare Statistics
January 31st-Feburary 2nd Three-Day Storm Total Snowfall: 21.2"
Third highest snowfallon record
Snowfall Total from the Afternoon of February 1st through the Morning of February 2nd: 20.0"
Highest 24 hr snowfall on record
February 1st Snowfall Total: 13.6"
2nd highest February calendar day snowfall on Record - had been highest at the time
Snowfall Amount (inches)
January 31st-February 2nd Three-Day Storm Total Snowfall: 15.1"
Third highest snowfall on record
Snowfall Total from the Afternoon of February 1st through the Morning of February 2nd: 14.0"
Calendar Day Total for February 1st: 10.9"
(NWS Chicago Office)
Snowfall Amount (inches)
January 31st-February 2nd Three-Day Snowfall Total: 17.1"
Snowfall Total from the Afternoon of February 1st through the Morning of February 2nd: 16.3"
Winds gusted to 45 mph to over 60 mph during the evening of February 1. The strongest winds were near the Lake Michigan shore. Here is a list of peak wind gusts observed:
Top Ten Snowfalls
Snowfall records for Chicago date back to 1886. O&rsquoHare Airport is currently the official observing site for Chicago. The 21.2 inches that fell with this storm is the third largest snowfall in Chicago history. It was the biggest snowstorm ever in the month of February. Here is a list of the top ten snow totals in Chicago as of February 2020:
2. 21.6 inches on January 1-3, 1999
3. 21.2 inches on January 31-February 2, 2011
4. 20.3 inches on January 12-14, 1979
6. 19.2 inches on March 25-26, 1930
7. 16.2 inches on March 7-8, 1931
8. 14.9 inches on January 30, 1939
9. 14.9 inches on January 6-7, 1918
10. 14.8 inches on December 17-19, 1929
Snowfall records for Rockford go back to 1906. The Chicago-Rockford International Airport is currently the official observing site for Rockford. The 15.1 inches that fell at Rockford was the third largest snowstorm in history, and the biggest ever in the month of February. Here is a list of top 10 snowstorms for Rockford as of February 2020:
1. 16.3 inches on January 6-7, 1918
2. 16.0 inches on March 30-31, 1926
3. 15.1 inches on January 31-February 2, 2011
4. 15.0 inches on March 21-22, 1932
5. 13.8 inches on March 1-2, 1948
6. 12.9 inches on December 11-13, 1909
7. 12.5 inches on February 10-11, 1944
8. 12.3 inches on January 11-14, 1979
9. 12.0 inches on January 17-19, 1943
10. 11.9 inches on January 31-February 2, 2015
Chicago&rsquos Top Four Snowstorms &ndash Which Was the Worst?
Jim Allsopp and Richard Castro, Feb 2011
There is a lot more to a snowstorm than the final tally of snowfall. We can also compare other components of winter storms, such as wind, temperature, and storm duration. With this in mind, how do Chicago&rsquos top four winter storms compare? We looked at many measurable factors. It's important to remember the official observing site location. Midway Airport was the official climate site in 1967 and 1979. O&rsquoHare was used for 1999 and 2011. Local weather historian Frank Wachowski also contributed to this story.
Jan 26-27 1967
Jan 12-14 1979
Jan 1-3 1999
Jan 31-Feb 2 2011
Liquid equivalent (inches)
Duration of accumulating snow (hours)
Average snowfall intensity (inches per hour)
Peak wind gusts (mph)
Maximum snow depth (inches)
Snow stayed on the ground through
(number of days)
Temperatures after the storm
low 15/high 28
low 20/high 30
low -19/high 9
low -2/high 22
low -9/high 5
low -16/high 18
low -6/high 16
low 5/high 25
Looking at these numbers, the 1967 storm had the most snow, and the wettest/heaviest snow. It was also a very windy storm with significant drifting. The 1979 storm was followed by a brutal arctic blast and took the longest time to melt. Snow already on the ground from previous storms resulted in the deepest snow pack in 1979. The 1999 storm was massive and long lasting. It was also followed by very cold temperatures but not as much wind as the arctic blast following the 1979 storm. The 2011 storm had the most wind. We don&rsquot have lightning data to compare, but this year&rsquos storm likely produced more lightning than the other storms. Even small hail was reported at Midway the evening of February 1, 2011.
Only the 1967 and 2011 storms can be truly classified as blizzards, with sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 mph or greater, and severely reduced visibility for a prolonged period of time. The 1979 storm had gusts over 35 mph toward the end of the event but didn&rsquot have the reduced visibility. The visibility at O&rsquoHare in this year&rsquos storm was at or below ¼ mile for an incredible 11 consecutive hours from Tuesday evening into early Wednesday morning. Midway spent at least 2 hours late Tuesday evening with visibility down to 1/16 mile in heavy thundersnow and blowing snow.
The other component of the storms that is not as easy to quantify is the impact on commerce, transportation and human life. The 1967 storm paralyzed the city, shut down airports and closed schools for days. Estimates of 20,000 to 50,000 cars and 800 to 1000 buses were stuck or abandoned. About 60 people died as a result of the storm, 26 from heart attacks from snow shoveling.
The 1979 storm also caused severe problems with transportation. CTA trains weren&rsquot equipped for snow removal and couldn&rsquot get through the deep snow pack. Salt on railroad crossings also caused problems with CTA lines. O&rsquoHare Airport was closed for 46 hours. Roofs collapsed under the weight of the snow. Chicagoans were so unhappy with the snow removal, that it played a key role in the following mayoral election.
The 1999 storm was well forecast, spread out over a long duration, and occurred on a long holiday weekend. Those factors helped mitigate the impact on transportation and commerce. Lake Shore Drive was shut down for the first time ever.
The 2011 storm was also well forecast. The advanced notice of the storm, better communications and planning, and better snow clearing techniques resulted in far less disruption. As a result, the number of stranded vehicles with this year&rsquos storm was an order of magnitude lower than the 1967 blizzard, but the photos and footage of the stranded vehicles on Lake Shore Drive will leave an indelible imprint on the minds of many. Eleven people died as a result of the 2011 storm.
Anyway you look at it the January 31-February 2 blizzard certainly was an incredible storm, and one Chicagoans will talk about for years to come.
|From Lansing, IL (courtesy Kevin Paluch)||From Byron, IL (courtesy Gene Sisson)|
|From Glen Ellyn, IL (courtesy Jessica Rawlings)||From Hyde Park, IL (courtesy Christina Klespies)|
|From Richmond, IL (courtesy of Joan Jacobson)||From Logan Square, IL (courtesy of Krista)|
|From Volo, IL (courtesy of Twitter follower @DuncanDaHusky)||From Richmond, IL (courtesy of Joan Jacobson)|
|Mosaic radar loop from January 31-February 2, 2011|
This very complex and strong system which brought blizzard conditions across a large portion of the nation&rsquos midsection on Tuesday, February 1, 2011, began to first show up in computer models by the middle part of last week. Although at that time, model guidance was widely variable in terms of placement and timing of this system. It wasn&rsquot until this past weekend when guidance began to converge on a solution - one which would bring heavy snow, strong winds, and crippling conditions to northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. This would be in contrast to what has been observed so far this winter. Although the area has observed accumulating snowfall this winter, what had not been observed in some time is a storm moving in from the southwest - an orientation that is capable of ingesting copious amounts of moisture into the storm and provide widespread heavy amounts of snowfall.
Late January 31st into the early morning of the 1st, an upper level system and associated surface low began to eject out of the southern Plains. As this occurred, several different types of winter precipitation begin to overspread portions of the mid Mississippi valley. Despite some lake effect showers which developed early in the day Tuesday, the main area of accumulating snow did not reach the northern portions of Illinois and Indiana until after noon. At this time, the area of low pressure had reached southern Missouri and southern Illinois while strengthening. A large area of moderate to heavy snow just north of the strong low pressure system overspread much of the area. It&rsquos during this time when this system furthered intensified as an upper level trough began to take on more of a negative tilt with strong pressure falls and rises being observed at the surface.
Several mesocale, or small scale, factors were occurring which helped bring more widespread intense snowfall to the area between the hours of 6PM Tuesday and 12AM Wednesday. With strong low pressure moving through east central Illinois, the deformation axis or snow band pivoted northwest over northern Illinois. This deformation axis provided snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour across the area for several hours before it began to shift out of the region. Mid and upper level forcing was greatest early in the evening as the upper level trough progressed northeast across the region. Then low and mid level forcing continued later in the evening as strong mid level frontogenitical forcing was observed for several hours.
|Radar image with strongest forcing for heavy snow outlined|
By late February 1st and early morning on the 2nd, the system continued to quickly exit off of to the east. As this occurred, wrap around moisture shifted east across northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, helping to maintain a continuous light to moderate snowfall. It was also during this time that upper level flow began to shift such that this system snow transitioned more to lake effect snowfall. This next radar image indicates this with a band of lake effect snow originating from northern Lake Michigan southwest into southern Wisconsin and northeast Illinois. Also on this image are surface observations along Lake Michigan. There are two things to note with these observations. First, was the strong wind speeds, with gusts up to 50 MPH being observed. The second is with the orientation of these observations. Instability over the lake as well as a long fetch are essential for lake effect snow development. Another thing that helps more intense bands of snow to develop is surface convergence. Notice that several areas along the western shores of Lake Michigan have wind barbs which come together over eastern Wisconsin and Illinois. This is an indication that strong surface convergence is occurring. This strong convergence aided with this last area of more intense snow to fall over northeast Illinois through the middle part of the day on the 2nd, and then eventually into northwest Indiana late in the day on Wednesday as this all shifted to the east.
|Radar image with lake effect/enhanced snow outlined|
Although lightning is not something you think of when discussing winter weather, it was observed all across the region on Tuesday, and really increased in frequency late on the night of February 1st. The image below show lightning strikes given by the Lightning Detection System setup across the U.S.
|Cloud-to-ground lightning strikes|
So what caused the lightning across the region on February 1st? For the development of spring time thunderstorms, several components are needed: lift or forcing, moisture, and instability. These components can also be discussed with winter time lightning. With a strong upper level trough and mid level frontogenesis, forcing was definitely not lacking with this event. This system was also able to pull in a good amount of moisture as it evolved over the central part of the country, providing the second component. The only component left to discuss, which would continue to provide good vertical motion for charge separation, or for the potential for lightning, is instability. The image below is a cross section of the atmosphere at around 6pm Tuesday night for areas in Madison, Wisconsin south to Champaign, Illinois with Ohare airport centered on the screen. The purpose of this image is to best describe the instability present over northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. The solid streamlines are essentially the vertical motion provided by system scale forcing as well as mid level frontogenitical forcing. The image in the background is our instability for this event. The blue colors, right above the best vertical motion, are the areas of this best instability. This instability helps any vertical motion rise faster and easier, which then helps with snowfall production and charge separation, or lightning. With summer time thunderstorms, what can happen when all of this is present is for hail to reach the ground. Now, of course, we are talking about the winter time so you would think that there would not be a need for a mention of hail. But there were several observations across the area of hail that did fall along with the snow.
|Model analyzed cross section of the atmosphere highlighting key meteorological ingredients for heavy snowfall|
Not only did this strong area of low pressure bring very heavy snowfall across the region, but it also provided a setup for very strong winds which aided in the blinding blizzard conditions. A strengthening and unstable upper level trough provided an attendant strong surface low to deepen as it tracked northeast across portions of the Midwest. With this deepening low moving in from the south and a strong ridge of high pressure to the north, a strong pressure gradient setup across the Midwest late in the day on February 1st. These lines of pressure, or isobars, were tightly packed over much of the region, in particular northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. These tightly packed isobars associated with this strong area of low pressure were one indication for the potential for very strong winds during this event.
|Surface weather map from 12 a.m. February 2, 2011 with infrared satellite overlaid|
There were several other aspects to this system which also helped with very high wind speeds across the area on February 1st. One of which had to do with the mid and upper level portions of this system. This dynamic system brought with it very strong flow at all levels of the atmosphere, which included levels just off of the surface.
The images below are reanalyzed soundings, or vertical atmospheric profile plots, from the ERA-5 dataset. These are for a point near O&rsquoHare Airport. The first part of this image to focus on is on the right, where wind barbs give the wind speed and direction at different level of the atmosphere. The wind barbs are indicating that winds of around 50 to 60 MPH are located only a couple of thousand feet off of the ground. With a well mixed lower part of the atmosphere, as can be seen with the thermal and moisture profile, these wind speeds can easily be transferred down to the surface, which is exactly what occurred late Tuesday night. Areas along the shore of Lake Michigan also saw stronger winds due to the fact that these winds were out of the northeast, which gave an unimpeded flow right off of the lake.
|Re-analyzed sounding for 3 p.m. on February 1, 2011 (snow onset time)||Re-analyzed sounding for 8 p.m. on February 1, 2011 (heavy snow and incredibly strong wind)||Re-analyzed sounding for 2 p.m. on February 2, 2011 (continuing heavy snow and incredibly strong wind)|
|Generated from the ERA-5 dataset.|
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