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The Maundy Monday Newsletter - This Week in History July 17 - July 23.
Happy Monday, everyone, from the beaches of Delaware!
I hope you had a nice weekend. It rained on Sunday, so there was not much beach time, but I saw some pelicans dive into the Atlantic Ocean for breakfast.
I love Pelicans.
What’s impressive about them is that they know exactly where they are going. Pelicans never appear to be lost. You never see one asking an Osprey for directions. They fly just above the water and can swoop in, dive down, and grab their food.
On the other hand, I have no sense of direction.
GPS has made me a worse driver, and even though when I go hiking and carry a compass, I’m not sure what it means to head north. Like, what’s up that way? A compass never tells you if the direction you are going is good or bad, all the insight it lends is four options. I’m unconvinced that is helpful.
I’m sorry to interrupt. This is a chance to suggest that if you are not a subscriber, go ahead and subscribe to Okay History, a reader-supported newsletter. Thanks!
This week brings us to the anniversary of a transatlantic flight of Texas-born aviator Douglass Corrigan. Corrigan flew a rebuilt, modified small plane from California to New York in early July 1938, and then on July 17, flew his plane from New York to Dublin, Ireland, despite having his request to make this flight denied. Instead, Corrigan logged it as a return flight to California.
This is such a funny story.
In 1938 we were still enthralled with people who could fly across long distances, such as Charles Lindbergh, who flew across the country in 1927. Corrigan, in fact, worked on Lindbergh’s plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, but wanted his own piece of fame.
So he cobbled together a plane, made it to New York, and wanted to keep going. But officials said that was crazy talk and denied the request to fly over the ocean. They approved a return flight to California, but Corrigan thought - what fun is that?
On the evening of July 17, Corrigan pointed the plane left, towards the west. When he took off, he did a 180 and headed right, to the east, under a large set of clouds. The following day he landed in Dublin, got out of the plane, and asked everyone where he was. He explained he got all disoriented by the clouds and the compass and thought he was headed back to California.
The press immediately dubbed him Wrong Way Corrigan. He never admitted his trip to Ireland was intentional for the remainder of his life until he passed away in 1995.
Okay, let's highlight what else happened this week. Here's what I got:
1. Spain surrendered to the United States on July 17, 1898. The conflict over Cuba’s independence lasted four months. After whipping them, we gained everything Spain possessed in South Asia, which on a map, is to the left of us. If you want to visit the Philippines, just turn left.
2. Sally Ride became the first American woman astronaut to fly in space on July 18, 1983. The multiple Stanford grad was also the youngest astronaut at 32. She knew where she was going because all she had to do was look up. If you want to go to space, look up.
3. President Bill Clinton announced the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on July 19, 1993. The military order prohibited discrimination against closeted homosexuals while at the same time prohibiting openly homosexuals from serving. It was repealed in 2011 after the phrases “Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass” were added, proving that we had no direction on this issue whatsoever.
Beach week begins in earnest, so I hope to have something at the end of the week, but I will make no promises that I would hate to break. The only thing breaking this week are the waves. The safe bet here is that I plan on catching up on reading.
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Have a great week. We are headed toward the weekend!