On this day 10 years ago, Rotary International wrapped up its four-year Kick Polio Out of Africa campaign, after contributing hundreds of millions of dollars and deploying countless volunteers. The effort eradicated 99% of the disease across the continent.
Nigeria, the last stronghold for the virus, finally reached three years without a case of wild polio last August, after Rotary using its website EndPolio.org had committed $268 million to the fight in that country, in partnership with the World Health Organization. (2010)
– Photo of Kenya vaccinations by CDC Global, CC license
MORE Good News on this Day:
- American aviator Wiley Post became the first person to fly solo around the world traveling 15,596 miles in 7 days and 18 hours and afterward received a ticker tape parade in New York City (1933)
- President Franklin Roosevelt signed the GI Bill of Rights, guaranteeing unemployment benefits and money for college for all US war veterans, making many of the 2.2 million returning soldiers the first in their families to get a college degree—see more below (1944)
- The voting age in the United States was lowered to 18 when President Richard Nixon signed the bill passed by Congress into law (1970)
- The Canadian House of Commons abolished capital punishment (1976)
- James “Whitey” Bulger, a longtime name on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list as a fugitive Boston crime boss, was arrested in Santa Monica, California (2011)
- South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said the Confederate flag should be removed from the grounds of the state capitol, changing her position on the divisive symbol, after growing public pressure to remove it (2015)
Garrison Keillor’s daily radio feature, Writer’s Almanac, reported on the success of FDR’s GI Bill of Rights: Before the war, about 10 percent of Americans attended college. After the war, that figure rose to about 50 percent. And contrary to most expectations, the grade-point averages at most colleges went up with the influx of veterans, and dropout rates went way down. Professors at the time said that the veterans were the most serious and disciplined students they’d ever seen. The cost to taxpayers of the GI Bill was about 5.5 billion dollars, but the result was 450,000 engineers, 240,000 accountants, 238,000 teachers, 91,000 scientists, 67,000 doctors, 22,000 dentists, 17,000 writers and editors, and thousands of other professionals. It helped spur one of the greatest economic booms in American history.
Happy Birthday to Meryl Streep who was born 71 years ago today in Summit, New Jersey. Often described as the best actress of her generation, Streep has been nominated for more Academy Awards than any other actor with a record 21 (she has won three). Holding her own in both comedies and dramas, she has a gift for mimicking accents, like her role as a Polish holocaust survivor in Sophie’s Choice (for which she won her second Oscar), and her portrayal of British Prime Minister Thatcher in The Iron Lady (for which she won her third). She won her first Oscar for Kramer vs. Kramer. This year, she joined the all-star cast on HBO’s television drama series Big Little Lies. (1949)
Streep’s Oscar-nominated films include in The Deer Hunter, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Silkwood, Out of Africa, Ironweed, Evil Angels, Postcards from the Edge, The Bridges of Madison County, One True Thing, Music of the Heart, Adaptation, The Devil Wears Prada, Doubt, Julie & Julia, August: Osage County, Into the Woods, Florence Foster Jenkins, and The Post. WATCH a compilation of some of her greatest roles…
And, Happy 72nd Birthday to the musical pioneer Todd Rundgren, who turns 70 today. After his chart-climbing hits as a musician-songwriter (Hello It’s Me, I Saw the Light, Bang on the Drum, and We Gotta’ Get You a Woman), the soulful Philadelphia crooner became a successful record producer.
Touring and recording music continually since the 1960s (including with his band Utopia), Rundgren also explored the cutting edge of video producing, interactive digital products, and fan-supported web portals. Last year, Rundgren released the LP White Knight, featuring collaborations with Trent Reznor, Daryl Hall, Joe Walsh, Donald Fagen, and Robyn. WATCH Todd describe his inability to read music in a 2017 commencement speech at Berklee School of Music… (1948)
“I never learned in high school, but when I got out of high school I learned to learn. . . Don’t leave here thinking your education is finished.”