On this day:
Saint Patrick’s Day
Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick”), is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.
Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, cèilidhs, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, which encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.
Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador (for provincial government employees), and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world, especially in Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. Modern celebrations have been greatly influenced by those of the Irish diaspora, particularly those that developed in North America. In recent years, there has been criticism of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations for having become too commercialised and for fostering negative stereotypes of the Irish.
1973 – The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph Burst of Joy is taken, depicting a former prisoner of war being reunited with his family, which came to symbolize the end of United States involvement in the Vietnam War.
Burst of Joy is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph by Associated Press photographer Slava “Sal” Veder, taken on March 17, 1973 at Travis Air Force Base in California. The photograph came to symbolize the end of United States involvement in the Vietnam War, and the prevailing sentiment that military personnel and their families could begin a process of healing after enduring the horrors of war.
The event at Travis Air Force Base
The first group of POWs leaving the prison camps in North Vietnam left Hanoi on a U.S. Air Force Lockheed C-141 Starlifter strategic airlift aircraft nicknamed the Hanoi Taxi, which flew them to Clark Air Base in the Philippines for medical examinations. On March 17, the plane landed at Travis Air Force Base in California. Even though there were only 20 POWs of that first increment released aboard the plane, almost 400 family members turned up for the homecoming.
Lt Col Robert L. Stirm, USAF made a speech, “on behalf of himself and other POW’s who had arrived from Vietnam as part of Operation Homecoming.”
Smithsonian Magazine says that “Veder, who’d been standing in a crowded bullpen with dozens of other journalists, noticed the sprinting family and started taking pictures. ‘You could feel the energy and the raw emotion in the air’.”
Developing the latent images
Veder then rushed to the makeshift photo developing station (for 35 mm film) in the ladies’ room of the air base’s flightline washrooms, while the photographers from United Press International were in the men’s. Smithsonian Magazine says that “In less than half an hour, Veder and his AP colleague Walt Zeboski had developed six remarkable images of that singular moment. Veder’s pick, which he instantly titled Burst of Joy, was sent out over the news-service wires”.
The depicted persons
The photograph depicts United States Air Force Lt Col Robert L. Stirm being reunited with his family, after spending more than five years in captivity as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Stirm was shot down over Hanoi on October 27, 1967, while leading a flight of F-105s on a bombing mission, and was not released until March 14, 1973. The centerpiece of the photograph is Stirm’s 15-year-old daughter Lorrie, who is excitedly greeting her father with outstretched arms, as the rest of the family approaches directly behind her.
Despite outward appearances, the reunion was an unhappy one for Stirm. Three days before he arrived in the United States, the same day he was released from captivity, Stirm received a Dear John letter from his wife Loretta informing him that their marriage was over. Stirm later learned that Loretta had cheated on him with numerous men throughout his captivity, receiving marriage proposals from three of them. In 1974, the Stirms divorced and Loretta remarried, but Lt Col Stirm was still ordered by the courts to provide her with 43% of his military retirement pay once he retired from the Air Force. Stirm was later promoted to full Colonel and retired from the Air Force in 1977.
After Burst of Joy was announced as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, all of the family members depicted in the picture received copies. They all display it prominently in their homes, except the Stirm patriarch, who says he cannot bring himself to display the picture, given the betrayal he suffered from his wife on the home front.
About the picture and its legacy, Lorrie Stirm Kitching once noted, “We have this very nice picture of a very happy moment, but every time I look at it, I remember the families that weren’t reunited, and the ones that aren’t being reunited today — many, many families — and I think, I’m one of the lucky ones.”
Donald Goldstein, a retired Air Force colonel and a co-author of a prominent Vietnam War photojournalism book, The Vietnam War: The Stories and The Photographs, says of Burst of Joy, “After years of fighting a war we couldn’t win, a war that tore us apart, it was finally over, and the country could start healing.”
Born on this day:
1849 – Charles F. Brush, American businessman and philanthropist, co-invented the Arc lamp (d. 1929)
Charles Francis Brush (March 17, 1849 – June 15, 1929) was an American inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Born in Euclid Township, Ohio, Brush was raised on a farm about 10 miles from downtown Cleveland. He had a great interest in science, particularly with Humphry Davy’s experiments with the arc light; he tinkered with and built simple electrical devices such as a static electricity machine at age 12, experimenting in a workshop on his parents’ farm. Brush attended Central High School in Cleveland where he built his first arc light, and graduated there with honors in 1867. His high school commencement oration was on the “Conservation of Force”. He received his college education from the University of Michigan, where he studied mining engineering (there were no majors—as there are today—in electrical engineering). At Michigan, Brush was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Omicron chapter).
In 1876 he secured the backing of the Wetting Supply Company in Cleveland to design his “dynamo” (an electrical generator) for powering arc lights. Brush began with the dynamo design of Zénobe Gramme but his final design was a marked divergence, retaining the ring armature idea that originated with Antonio Pacinotti. Brush remarked on his motivation for improving the generator in his U.S. Patent 189,997: “The best forms of magneto-electric apparatus at present before the public are unnecessarily bulky, heavy, and expensive, and are more or less wasteful of mechanical power.” After comparing it to the Gramme dynamo and other European entrants, the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia judged Brush’s dynamo superior due to its simpler design and maintainability after completing tests in 1878.
Brush produced additional patents refining the design of his arc lights in the coming years and sold systems to several cities for public lighting, and even equipped Philadelphia’s Wanamaker’s Grand Depot with a system. His lights were easier to maintain, had automatic functions and burned twice as long as Yablochkov candles. His generators were reliable and automatically increased voltage with greater load while keeping current constant. By 1881, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Montreal, Buffalo, San Francisco, Cleveland and other cities had Brush arc light systems, producing public light well into the 20th century.
The San Francisco system was the first case of a utility selling electricity from a central plant to multiple customers via transmission lines. The California Electric Light Company (now PG&E) purchased two generators from Charles Brush’s company in 1879 and soon opened a second plant with four additional generators. Service charges for light from sundown to midnight was $10 per lamp per six day week. Brush’s system was lighting Broadway two years before Edison’s Pearl Street Station began lighting New York. By 1893 there were 1500 arc lights illuminating New York streets.
In 1879, the Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Corporation, using Brush’s inventions, was formed in Lambeth, London, England. This company eventually moved to Loughborough England and became Brush Electrical Engineering Co. Ltd.
In 1880, Brush established the Brush Electric Company in the U.S. and, though successful, faced stiff competition from Thomson-Houston Electric Company, whose arc lights could be independently turned off, and by Edison, whose incandescent lights had a softer warm glow, didn’t flicker and were less costly to maintain than arc lights. In 1882, the Brush Electric Company supplied generating equipment for a hydroelectric power plant at St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis, among the first to generate electricity from water power in the United States. Thomson-Houston bought out Brush in 1889 and eventually merged to become part of General Electric in 1891. After selling his interests in Brush Electric, Brush never returned to the electric industry.
In 1884, Brush built a mansion on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland that showcased many of his inventions. There he raised his family and lived the remainder of his life. The basement housed Brush’s private laboratory. In 1888, he powered the mansion with the world’s first automatically operated wind turbine generator which charged the home’s 12 batteries. It was the first home in Cleveland to have electricity. Over its 20-year life, the turbine never failed to keep the home continuously powered. In 1926, Brush pioneered the first piezo-electric featherweight stylus.
In 1898, Brush claimed to have discovered a new gas, which he named etherion. This gas had remarkable properties, being 10,000 times lighter than hydrogen and conducting heat 20 times faster than it. In 1900, Marian Smoluchowski identified the gas as water vapor.
Between 1910 and 1929 he wrote several papers on his version of a kinetic theory of gravitation, based on some sort of electromagnetic waves.
He died on June 15, 1929 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Charles F. Brush High School in Lyndhurst, Ohio is named after Brush, whose sports teams and other groups are named the “Arcs,” after Brush’s lamp.
Metro Parks, Serving Summit County’s Furnace Run Metro Park in Richfield, Ohio, received a donation of land from the Family of Charles F. Brush. The donated tract is known as Brushwood.
USS Brush (DD-745) 1943-1969 (then Taiwan’s Hsiang Yang until scrapped in 1993) was named after Brush, sponsored by his great-granddaughter.
1849 – Cornelia Clapp, American marine biologist (d. 1934)
Cornelia Maria Clapp (March 17, 1849 – December 31, 1934) was an American zoologist and academic specializing in marine biology. She was born in Montague, Massachusetts, the first daughter and oldest child of two teachers, and was rated as one of the top zoologists in the United States in her lifetime.
Clapp attended Syracuse University and the University of Chicago, earning both the first and second Ph.B. degrees awarded to women in the United States, in 1889 from Syracuse and 1896 from Chicago. Mount Holyoke’s Cornelia Clapp Laboratory, built in 1924 to house the school’s biology classes, was named in her honor.
Education and career
Clapp completed the equivalent of an undergraduate program at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (the forerunner of today’s Mount Holyoke College) in 1871 before spending one year as a Latin teacher at a boys’ boarding school in Andalusia, Pennsylvania.
She returned to Mount Holyoke in 1872, teaching mathematics and natural history before becoming the college’s gymnastics instructor from 1876 to 1891.
Clapp continued her extensive postgraduate studies at Louis Agassiz’s Anderson School of Natural History on Penikese Island, Buzzard’s Bay, MA in 1874. She adopted Agassiz’s dictum “Study nature, not books!” and applied it to her own teaching.
She introduced her learned knowledge via an embryology course at Mount Holyoke, supplanted by specimens from alumni abroad. Along with other New England entomologists, Clapp collected insects from the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the summer of 1875 and from the mid-Atlantic states in 1877. (Stops included the Johns Hopkins University marine station in Beaufort, SC and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.)
Clapp also completed brief studies on chick embryos and earthworms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under W.T. Sedgwick and at Williams College in the early 1880s. Beginning in 1888, Clapp was affiliated with the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, MA, where she conducted laboratory research and later became a lecturer and a trustee. Her doctoral dissertation on toadfish was published in the Journal of Morphology in 1889.
When Mount Holyoke made the transition from seminary to college in 1888, Clapp took a three-year leave in order to obtain a doctorate at the University of Chicago. When she returned to Mount Holyoke, she helped organize the department of zoology, and in 1904 she was named professor of zoology. Although she was primarily known as an educator and did not author many scientific research papers, she was named in 1906 as being among the 150 most prominent zoologists in the U.S. by the journal American Man of Science.
At a time when the world of science was just opening up to women, Cornelia Clapp’s influence as a teacher was great and enduring. While she published little during her career, her major influence was to extend scientific knowledge and opportunity to women through education.
Her direct teaching manner can be felt in the experience of Louise Baird Wallace, who arrived at Mount Holyoke in 1891. Her school principal in Ohio told her: “You ought to study under Dr. Clapp. She keeps live frogs in tanks.” Of Clapp, Louise wrote, “I came, I saw; she conquered. I felt then and have felt ever since that I was never fully alive until I knew her.”