This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
February 25 is the 56th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 309 days remaining until the end of the year (310 in leap years).
On this day in Japan, the Plum Blossom Festival is held. The Festival at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto is one one of the most beautiful. The shrine was built in 947, to appease the angry spirit of bureaucrat, scholar and poet Sugawara no Michizane, who had been exiled as a result of political maneuvers of his enemies in the Fujiwara clan.
The shrine was dedicated to Michizane; and in 986, the scholar-bureaucrat was deified and the title of Tenjin (Heavenly Deity) was conferred.
The grounds are filled with Michizane’s favorite tree, the red and white ume or plum blossom, and when they blossom the shrine is often very crowded. Open-air tea ceremonies are hosted by geiko and apprentice maiko from the nearby Kamishichiken district. The plum festival has been held on the same day every year for about 900 years to mark the death of Michizane.
Sugawara no Michizane, August 1, 845 – March 26, 903, was a scholar, poet, and politician of the Heian Period of Japan. He is regarded as an excellent poet, particularly in Chinese poetry.
He was educated in a private school run by his father where he studies to become an official in the Court of the Japanese Emperor. His training and skill with Classical Chinese language and literature afforded him many opportunities to draft edicts and correspondences for officials in the Court in addition to his menial duties. Records show at this time he composed three petitions for Fujiwara no Yoshifusa as well as the Emperor. Michizane also took part in receiving delegations from the Kingdom of Parhae, where Michizane’s skill with Chinese again proved useful in diplomatic exchanges and poetry exchange. In 877, he was assigned to the Ministry of the Ceremonial, which allowed him to manage educational and intellectual matters more than before. While serving as governor of Sanuki Province, he intervened in a Court matter on the side Emperor Uda over Fujiwara no Mototsune and at the end of his term returned to the Court in Kyoto where he served in many positions.
He was appointed ambassador to China in the 890s, but instead came out in support of abolition of the imperial embassies to China in 894, theoretically in consideration for the decline of the Tang Dynasty. A potential ulterior motive may have lain in Michizane’s almost complete ignorance of spoken Chinese; most Japanese at the time only read Chinese, and knew little to nothing about the spoken language. Michizane, as the nominated ambassador to China, would have been presented with a potential loss of face had he been forced to depend on an interpreter. Emperor Uda stopped the practice of sending ambassadors to China by what he understood as persuasive counsel from Michizane.
Within the end of Emperor Uda reign in 897, Michizane’s position became increasingly vulnerable. In 901, through the political maneuverings of his rival, Fujiwara no Tokihira, Michizane was demoted from his aristocratic rank of junior second to a minor official post at Dazaifu, in Kyushu‘s Chikuzen Province. After his lonely death, plague and drought spread and sons of Emperor Daigo died in succession. The Imperial Palace’s Great Audience Hall (shishinden) was struck repeatedly by lightning, and the city experienced weeks of rainstorms and floods. Attributing this to the angry spirit of the exiled Sugawara, the imperial court built a Shinto shrine called Kitano Tenman-gu in Kyoto, and dedicated it to him. They posthumously restored his title and office, and struck from the record any mention of his exile. Sugawara was deified as Tenjin-sama, or kami of scholarship. Today many Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to him.
138 – The Emperor Hadrian adopts Antoninus Pius, effectively making him his successor.
1570 – Pope Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth I of England.
1797 – Colonel William Tate and his force of 1000-1500 soldiers surrender after the Last Invasion of Britain.
1836 – Samuel Colt is granted an United States patent for the Colt revolver.
1843 – Provisional Cession of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands established by Lord George Paulet.
1866 – Miners in Calaveras County, California, discover what is now called the Calaveras Skull, human remains that supposedly indicated that man, mastodons, and elephants had co-existed.
1870 – Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, is sworn into the United States Senate, becoming the first African American ever to sit in the U.S. Congress.
1901 – J. P. Morgan incorporates the United States Steel Corporation.
1912 – Marie-Adelaide, the eldest of six daughters of Guillaume IV, becomes the first reigning Grand Duchess of Luxembourg.
1919 – Oregon places a 1 cent per U.S. gallon tax on gasoline, becoming the first U.S. state to levy a gasoline tax.
1921 – Tbilisi, capital of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, is occupied by Bolshevist Russia.
1928 – Charles Jenkins Laboratories of Washington, D.C. becomes the first holder of a television license from the Federal Radio Commission.
1932 – Adolf Hitler obtains German citizenship by naturalization, which allows him to run in the 1932 election for Reichsprasident.
1933 – The USS Ranger is launched. It is the first US Navy ship to be built solely as an aircraft carrier.
1941 – February Strike: In occupied Amsterdam, a general strike is declared in response to increasing anti-Jewish measures instituted by the Nazis.
1945 – World War II: Turkey declares war on Germany.
1947 – State of Prussia ceases to exist.
1948 – The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia takes control of government in Czechoslovakia and the period of the Third Republic ends.
1951 – The first Pan American Games are held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
1954 – Gamal Abdul Nasser is made premier of Egypt.
1956 – In his speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union denounces the cult of personality of Joseph Stalin.
1964 – Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) dethroned Sonny Liston in the Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston world heavyweight boxing title, Ali’s 20th pro boxing fight and first heavyweight title.
1964 – Eastern Air Lines Flight 304 crashes in Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain, killing all 51 passengers and 7 crew.
1964 – North Korean Prime Minister Kim Il-sung calls for the removal of feudalistic land ownership aimed at turning all cooperative farms into state-run ones.
1964 – U.S. Air Force launches a satellite employing a US Air Force Atlas/ Agena combination from Point Arguello (LC-2-3) in California and from Cape Kennedy in Florida.
1968 – Vietnam War: 135 unarmed citizens of Ha My village in South Vietnam’s Quang Nam Province are killed and buried en mass by South Korean troops in what would come to be known as the Ha My massacre.
1971 – The first unit of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, the first commercial nuclear power station in Canada, goes online.
1980 – The Suriname government is overthrown by a military coup which is initiated with the bombing of the police station from an army ship off the coast of the nation’s capital, Paramaribo
1986 – People Power Revolution: President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines flees the nation after 20 years of rule; Corazon Aquino becomes the first Filipino woman president.
1991 – Gulf War: An Iraqi scud missile hits an American military barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia killing 28 U.S. Army Reservists from Pennsylvania.
1992 – Khojaly massacre: about 613 civilians are killed by Armenian armed forces during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan
1994 – Mosque of Abraham massacre: In the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron, Dr. Baruch Kappel Goldstein opens fire with an automatic rifle, killing 29 Palestinian worshippers and injuring 125 more before being subdued and beaten to death by survivors.
2009 – BDR massacre in Pilkhana, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 74 people are killed, including more than 50 army officials, by Bangladeshi Border Guards inside its headquarters.
* Christian Feast Day:
o Ethelberht of Kent
o Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani, OSB
o Tarasius (Eastern Orthodox Churches and Traditional Roman Catholics)
* Kitano Baika-sai or “Plum Blossom Festival” (Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine, Kyoto)
* National day (Kuwait)
* People Power Day (Philippines)
* Soviet Occupation Day (Georgia)