On This Day
1905 – Chicago attorney Paul Harris and three other businessmen meet for lunch to form the Rotary Club, the world’s first service club.
Rotary International is an international service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political and non-sectarian organization open to all people regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, or political preference. There are 34,282 member clubs worldwide, and 1.2 million individuals, known as Rotarians, have joined.
Rotarians usually gather weekly for breakfast, lunch, or dinner to fulfill their first guiding principle to develop friendships as an opportunity for service. “It is the duty of all Rotarians,” states their Manual of Procedure, “outside their clubs, to be active as individuals in as many legally constituted groups and organizations as possible to promote, not only in words but through exemplary dedication, awareness of the dignity of all people and the respect of the consequent human rights of the individual.” The Rotarian’s primary motto is “Service Above Self”; its secondary motto is “One profits most who serves best.”
Born On This Day
1923 – Clarence D. Lester, African-American fighter pilot (d.1986)
Clarence D. “Lucky” Lester (February 23, 1923 – March 17, 1986) was an African-American fighter pilot in the 332nd Fighter Group, commonly known as the Tuskegee Airmen, during World War II. He was one of the first African-American military aviators in the United States Army Air Corps, the United States Army Air Forces and later the United States Air Force.  Lester was one of two pilots who shot down three Focke-Wulf Fw 190 or Messerschmitt Bf 109 on a single mission; the other pilot was Captain Joseph Elsberry.   Lester flew a P-51 Mustang nicknamed “Miss Pelt.”
World War II
The Tuskegee Airmen is the popular name of a group of African-American military pilots (fighter and bomber) who fought in World War II. They formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces. The name also applies to the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel. Lester recalls that “Being a black pilot in the 1940s was like being a pro athlete today … We knew we were special, that we would have to prove something. This was the first chance blacks had had outside of working in the kitchen or the possiblity [sic] of being a truck driver.”  White pilots would fly around 50 combat missions but because there were no replacements, black pilots of the Tuskegee Airmen flew around 70 missions. During the war he flew over 90 combat missions.
After the WWII
While flying an F-84E Thunderjet it experienced mechanical failure and exploded into flames forcing Lester to yank his ejection seat and parachute from the inflamed jet, which made him “only the sixth pilot ever to use the ejection method.”  Later in his career he also worked with the infamous “Whiz kids” that Robert McNamara assembled at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In 1969 Lester retired as a full colonel and was then appointed as associate director of social services in Rockville, Maryland.
Stanley Donen (/ˈdɒnən/ DON-ən; April 13, 1924 – February 21, 2019) was an American film director and choreographer whose most celebrated works are Singin’ in the Rain and On the Town, both of which he co-directed with actor and dancer Gene Kelly. Other noteworthy films include Royal Wedding, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Face, Indiscreet, Damn Yankees!, Charade, and Two for the Road. He began his career in the chorus line on Broadway for director George Abbott, where he befriended Kelly. In 1943 he went to Hollywood and worked as a choreographer before he and Kelly made On the Town in 1949. He then worked as a contract director for MGM under producer Arthur Freed producing hit films amid critical acclaim. In 1952 Donen and Kelly co-directed the musical Singin’ in the Rain, regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. Donen’s relationship with Kelly deteriorated in 1955 during their final collaboration on It’s Always Fair Weather. He then broke his contract with MGM to become an independent producer in 1957. He continued making films throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, often financial successes that were critically acclaimed. His film output became less frequent in the early 1980s and he briefly returned to the stage as a director in the 1990s and again in 2002.
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