Today in History: April 25

Martin Waldseemüller, a German mapmaker, published a map of the world based on the journeys of Amerigo Vespucci and Christopher Columbus on this date in 1507. The map assigned part of the globe the name, “America,” and it is the first appearance of that term.

The title remained even though Waldseemüller himself later came to regret this salute to Vespucci, and in later maps he labeled this part of the world “Terra Incognita.” But too many copies of the earlier map with “America” as a label had been distributed, and the name had already permeated European (and later, American) consciousness. “Incognita Land” simply would not have worked as a name for a ’70s soft rock band.

* * * *
Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday rescued a U.S. flag from two people who had jumped from the stands at Dodger Stadium to publicly set fire to it 40 years ago today. (Photo at top.)

(Editorial comment: One thing I appreciate about my nation is that we do have the right to protest and burn our flag. We also have the right to run in and rescue the flag. Both are available here.)

* * * *
Turandot, the opera by Giacomo Puccini, premiered at La Scala in Milan 90 years ago today.

* * * *
“A structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid,” an article by James Watson and Francis Crick was published in Nature 63 years ago today. DNA’s structure was described for the first time in the article.

* * * *
The Gallipoli Campaign in World War I began on this date in 1915; the Ottoman Empire won out over the Allies after an eight-month battle that cost half-a-million deaths between the two sides. Among the Allied troops were many Australians and New Zealanders, thus April 25 every year is Anzac Day for people in those two countries.

* * * *
Today is the 71st anniversary Elbe Day, commemorating the moment U.S. and Soviet troops met at the Elbe River in Germany, thus effectively bisecting Nazi Germany and heralding the last days of the war in Europe. The Red Army had Berlin completely surrounded on this date 70 years ago, as well.

* * * *
Ella Fitzgerald was born 99 years ago today. The late Meadowlark Lemon was born 84 years ago today.

* * * *
Al Pacino is 76. Björn Ulvaeus is 71. Talia Shire is 70. Hank Azaria is 52. Joe Buck is 47. Renee Zellweger is 47. Tim Duncan is 40 today. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is 27 today; he is the 11th Panchen Lama and has not been seen in public since authorities in China imprisoned him at age 6 on May 17, 1995.

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  1. Anton Wills-Eve · April 25, 2016

    OK I’ll have to do it. Happy St Mark’s Day! Also our family always celebrate
    ANZAC day. Re today’s dates, several maps identified the land of my forebears as Terra incognita before settling on Terra Australis. Cheers. Anton.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aldrich · April 25, 2016

      Thank you! I did guess correctly–I looked into whether this was St. Mark’s Day. Which I did not know. Of course, my lack of knowledge about feast days is no excuse for not knowing feast days … and this probably means I will start learning.

      And yes, “Terra Incognita” is more of a verbal shrug on the mapmakers’ parts, but I saw a cheap joke and went for it. (The Firesign Theatre had a throwaway joke long ago in which a character says, “Welcome to Vespucci Land.” A better joke than mine.)


      • Anton Wills-Eve · April 25, 2016

        Final hagiographic quizz for you Mark. I was baptised and Christened in Latin and my Saint’s Feast day is very soon. As I was given the English form of my Saint’s name (my mother always said she’d do that whatever it was) I ended up as Anton. When’s my feast and birthday? 😉 Anton

        Liked by 1 person

  2. loisajay · April 25, 2016

    Meadowlark Lemon…..watching him and the Harlem Globetrotters on TV when I was younger was such a treat. He was awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aldrich · April 25, 2016

      At the time of his death, I wrote something about how when I was a little kid in the mid-’70s, the height of fame appeared to be membership on the Harlem Globetrotters. And Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal may as well have been president and vice president to my seven-year-old eyes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. loisajay · April 25, 2016

    Ha! I had forgotten about Curly….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. camparigirl · April 25, 2016

    It’s also the day Italy celebrates being liberated by the Allied Forces in 1945. And it is a national holiday.

    Liked by 1 person

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