Good News in History, September 9

21 years ago today, Band of Brothers premiered and demonstrated the power of the miniseries to tell a story better than a motion picture. Produced by Spielberg with Tom Hanks as his advisor, it premiered on HBO and went on to win the Emmy and Golden Globe for best miniseries. The story was based on the 1992 non-fiction book of the same name written by Steven E. Ambrose. READ More… (2001)

The series dramatizes the history of “Easy” Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division, from jump training in the United States through its participation in major actions in Europe, up until Japan’s capitulation and the end of World War II. The events are based on Ambrose’s research and recorded interviews with Easy Company veterans.

Historical accuracy was, since the book was based on a collection of memoires and interviews with actual soldiers, paramount to be perceived success of the miniseries. Hanks, himself a lover of all things history, said at the time “we’ve made history fit onto our screens.”

“We had to condense down a vast number of characters, fold other people’s experiences into 10 or 15 people, have people saying and doing things others said or did. We had people take off their helmets to identify them, when they would never have done so in combat. But I still think it is three or four times more accurate than most films like this.”

As a final accuracy check, as many veterans from “Easy Company” as cared to do so were given a final screening of the series to address any grievous liberties.

MORE Good News on this Day:

65 years ago, Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time (1956)
The first U.S. civil rights bill was signed into law by US President Dwight Eisenhower (1957)
British Ambassador Geoffrey Jackson was freed 8 months after capture by guerrillas in Uruguay (1971)
In Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park, a Cave Research Foundation exploration and mapping team discovered a link between the Mammoth and Flint Ridge cave systems, making it the longest known cave passageway in the world (1972)
Tajikistan gained Independence from USSR (1991)
The Palestine Liberation Organization agreed to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and Israel returns mutual recognition for the PLO as the official representative of the Palestinian people (1993)
The Irish Republican Army‘s political arm, Sinn Fein, formally renounced violence and took a seat at the table with British and Irish leaders to plan a negotiated settlement to end Northern Ireland’s civil unrest—seven 7 later, that’s exactly what happened (1997)

231 years ago, America’s capital was named after her beloved first president, the loyal servant and general who led a motley army against the British to gain independence: George Washington. Washington, D.C. became famous worldwide for its awe-invoking monuments laid out around a grand mall, with free museums lining every side of the plaza.

Washington monument with cherry blossoms by Andy He

Buildings have been prohibited from rising any higher than those monuments, which preserves the historical feeling and photographic vistas in alls direction inside the federal city.

Also 15 years earlier on the same day, the Continental Congress officially named its new nation the United States. (1791)

On this day in 1890, Colonel Sanders of KFC fame was born.

Harland David Sanders began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in North Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. Commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel by the governor, he had a “Secret Recipe” for frying chicken in a pressure fryer, which cut cooking times. He recognized the potential of the restaurant franchising concept, and, with a product that evoked the imagery of Southern hospitality, the first KFC franchise opened in Utah in 1952. At age 65, Sanders had little money so decided to search for new franchisees, often sleeping in the back of his car as he traveled the country. Sanders later used his stock holdings to create the Colonel Harland Sanders Trust and Charitable Organization, which used the proceeds to aid charities and fund scholarships.

Happy 62nd Birthday to actor and film producer Hugh Grant. The befuddled rom-com movie charmer first achieved international success in 1994 for his appearance in Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which he won a Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Actor.

2014 image by Kurt Kulac, CC license

Other notable Grant films to check out: Notting Hill, Mickey Blue Eyes, Bridget Jones’s Diary, About a Boy, and period pieces such as The Remains of the Day and Sense and Sensibility. Most recently, he won BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Florence Foster Jenkins in 2016 and A Very English Scandal in 2018.He is married to a “great wife”, Anna Eberstein, and he has thought of running for office, but, so far, chooses to campaign for other candidates. WATCH a rundown of his ‘Top 10’ films… (1960)

81 years ago today, the soulful singer Otis Redding was born. At 15, he quit school to work in music and support his parents in Macon, Georgia. Three days before his tragic death in a plane crash at age 26, he recorded the iconic song, (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,’ which shot to #1 on the charts. The year prior, he released ‘Try a Little Tenderness,’ the song that epitomizes his signature sound. 

He also wrote ‘Respect,’ and had a major influence on Aretha Franklin. Artists from many genres have named Redding as a musical influence, like the Rolling Stones. George Harrison called “Respect” an inspiration for “Drive My Car”, and others have covered or mixed his songs, notably Kanye West and Jay-Z in their Grammy-winning “Otis”.

His bandmate and co-writer on Dock of the Bay, Steve Cropper, said, “I don’t think anybody I’ve ever worked with had the impact that Otis Redding did. He was the only artist on the label that everybody–all the musicians, all the secretaries, all the employees–looked forward to seeing at the studio. Otis was your best friend when he was with you and he made you feel wanted, needed and all that.” (1941)

183 years ago today, the superstar British scientist Sir John Herschel, who first used the word ‘photography’, took the first photograph on a glass plate. The ‘negative’ photograph (a term he also coined) used a layer of silver chloride to react with light—and it still survives today. The image, now faded and kept in The Science Museum in London, shows the structure used to support a 40-ft telescope owned by his astronomer father in Slough, England.

Herschel’s glass-plate method was ideal for photographing the skies and it was used well into the 1990s. The astronomer, mathematician, chemist, inventor, musician, and artist, also named seven moons of Saturn and four Uranus moons. During his work with color and light waves a few years later, Herschel invented the ‘Cyanotype’ printing method, isolating ferric salts through a photochemical process that produces the cyan—Prussian blue—color for use in printing images, thus inventing blueprints. WATCH a video about Herschel’s influence on Darwin—and mentorship of a great female photographer… (1839)

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