The fourth of July has passed, and Labor Day is fast approaching, but if you look for holidays in August you might not recognize any. My calendar only shows Ashura, a day that marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram. This is a holy day for Shia Muslims to make their pilgrimages. Sunni Muslims also mark the day as when Moses parted the Red Sea saving the Israelites from the Pharaoh.
For Coast Guard women and men, August 4 was the celebration of the birthday of their service. One of the five armed services, the Coast Guard has kept the nation’s waterways safe to navigate. They respond to mariners in distress all over the world. Part of the Department of Homeland Security, they patrol the coasts for drug smugglers, human trafficking and even pirates or rum runners back in the day. Also, they are known for Arctic and Antarctic research vessels, icebreaking, environmental protection, pollution clean-up and enforcing fishery laws. They inspect vessels for safety equipment and license professional mariners. Founded in 1790 the Coast Guard is America’s oldest continuing seagoing service. Once known as the “Revenue Marine,” Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, is credited with their creation.
Staying with a nautical theme, the United States Lighthouse Service was created in 1910. In the United States, Lighthouses date back to 1789. They too operated under the Department of the Treasury. They were built in coastal areas to help mariners navigate away from rocks and shoals to make it safely into harbors. Cape Henry Lighthouse was the first federally funded governmental public works project in 1792. Situated near the “First Landing” site, this is where English settlers first set foot on their way to Jamestown. In 1939 it was merged into the United States Coast Guard. In 1989 on the 200 anniversary of “An Act for the Establishment and Support of Lighthouse, Beacons, Buoys and Public Piers” law, Congress declared August 7 to be “National Lighthouse Day.”
What else happens in August? Perhaps you enjoyed “Sister’s Day” on August 2. Might you embrace “Middle Children’s Day” on August 8? Do you have a child or grandchild? Celebrate “S’Mores Day” with them on August 10. For thrill seekers, National Roller Coaster Day is August 16. August 21 is your poet friend’s day! Outdoor enthusiasts can celebrate the National Park Service’s anniversary on August 25. August 26 is Women’s Equality Day. That was the day the passage of the 19th Amendment was certified prohibiting discrimination in voting rights based on sex. For dog lovers, it is also National Dog Day, so give Fido a special treat or two.
Lots of historical events have also occurred in the month of August. Too many to list here, however you can see a list by perusing historyplace.com on the internet. For example, August 1, 1944 was the last entry in Anne Frank’s diary. It said, “keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would like to be and what I could be if…there weren’t any other people living in the world.” She and her family were arrested three days later. She died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at age 15, on March 15, 1945.
August 3, 1492 was when Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain with the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. On August 4, 1962, Nelson Mandela was arrested in South Africa. Former President Barack Obama’s birthday is also on Aug. 4. In August two atomic bombs were dropped that led to Japan’s surrender during World War II. Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9. Japan surrendered on August 14. Other significant events include the signing of the first Federal income tax by President Lincoln on August 5, 1861; President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1934; the Berlin Wall went up starting on August 13, 1961; the Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed by President Johnson on August 6 and President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.
Woodstock also went down on August 15, 1969. More than 300,000 young people attended this symbol of the 1960s counter-culture movement. The king left the building for the final time as Elvis Presley died at Memphis Baptist Hospital on August 16, 1977. Finally, Princess Diana died in a high-speed car crash on August 31, 1997.
August may not have a major national holiday – but many meaningful events did, and do, occur this month.