First Transatlantic Telegraph Sent (1858)

After the introduction of the working telegraph in 1839, the idea that countries and continents could be connected by a communications network became an exciting possibility. A working telegraph could transmit in mere minutes messages that had once taken weeks to deliver by sea. England and France were linked by submarine cable in 1850, but it took several attempts over the next eight years before a lasting connection could be maintained across the Atlantic. How long was this cable operational? Discuss

Pine Battle of Vinuesa

The Pine Battle or Pinochada of Vinuesa in the province of Soria, Spain, takes place where King Juan I located his main residence in the 14th century. On August 16, the final day of the festival, there is a ceremonial mock battle in which the women of Vinuesa attack the men with pine branches. Centuries ago, when an image of the Virgin was found between two pine trees near the boundary between Vinuesa and Covaleda, a quarrel broke out over who would keep the image. The women tore branches from the pine trees and used them to strike their opponents, thus winning the battle for Vinuesa. Discuss

Menachem Begin (1913)

In the 1940s, Begin headed the Irgun, a militant organization that fought against British Mandate authorities in Palestine. As a member of the first Israeli parliament, he led the opposition to the Labor party. In 1977, his right-wing Likud party defeated Labor for the first time, and Begin became prime minister of Israel. He shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize with Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat as a result of the Camp David Accords. Why did Begin retire from politics in 1983? Discuss

Gray's Anatomy

Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body, commonly known as Gray’s Anatomy, is widely regarded as a classic medical reference book. Due to the Anatomy Act of 1832, Henry Gray—an anatomist and teacher in London—was able to dissect unclaimed corpses from workhouses and form the basis of his book. First published under the title Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical in 1858, his text has been expanded and reprinted numerous times. What disease claimed Gray’s life when he was only 34? Discuss

World War II: Victory over Japan Day (1945)

Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day) marks the surrender of Japan—the last Axis power to yield during World War II—and the subsequent end of the war. Though the terms of Japan’s surrender were not signed until September 2, V-J Day sparked widespread celebration in Allied countries. One of the day’s most famous images was shot in Times Square, New York, when Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the moment a sailor embraced a nurse and kissed her. Who were they? Discuss

Prince's Birthday in Liechtenstein (Staatsfeiertag)

The Prince’s Birthday is a national holiday in Lichtenstein. The country is a constitutional monarchy formerly headed by Prince Franz Joseph II, who turned over power to his son, Hans-Adam II, in 1984. Franz Joseph II was born on Aug. 16, 1905, but his birthday is celebrated on Aug. 15, the day of the Feast of the Assumption. Celebrations take place in the capital city of Vaduz; festivities include an open house at the prince’s home and castle, Schloss Vaduz, dancing in the streets, special food in the cafes, and fireworks in the evening. Discuss

Paul Rand (1914)

Rand was an American graphic designer who created some of the most recognizable corporate logos in recent history, including logos for IBM, UPS, Westinghouse, and ABC. After studying at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League in New York, Rand built his reputation in the magazine industry before becoming a highly sought-after logo designer. In 1972, he created IBM’s iconic, striped logo, a prime example of his simple yet powerful style. Of what art movement was Rand an outspoken critic? Discuss