The Gales of November

Of course, one cannot think of November without thinking of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is based not on one event, but on the combination of several things, including the New England Puritan Thanksgiving, a religious observance and the traditional harvest celebrations of the same region. While the earliest North American Thanksgiving celebration was said to have been in St. Augustine, Florida, in September of 1565, the first Thanksgiving in New England was celebrated sometime between September 21 and November 11 of 1621 and lasted for three days. It was celebrated sporadically thereafter, and was declared official holidays by numerous states. It was not until 1863 that it became a national holiday, by Abraham Lincoln, who decreed that it would be officially celebrated on the last Thursday in November. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed that to the fourth Thursday of November, and Congress approved that date change in 1941. This year, Thanksgiving is celebrated on November 27.

Although it used to occur in October, Daylight Savings Time ends this year on November 2 at 2:00 am, which will, in the blink of an eye, then be 1:00 am. Standard time in time zones was first begun in 1883 by the railroads, and the idea of daylight saving was first thought up by Benjamin Franklin, and he put it forth in his 1784 essay, "An Economical Project." It was not; however, set into law until March 19, 1918 in what is usually called the Standard Time Act. There was quite the debate about the idea, and it was repealed the very next year. It has been enacted, repealed, changed, and re-enacted ever since.

Veterans Day is the commemoration of the end of The Great War, which we now know as World War I. The Treaty of Versailles is what ended the war, and although it was signed in June 1919, the cessation of fighting actually took place months earlier on "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month." A year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 the first observation of Veterans Day, which was a day to remember those who died in the service of the United States, and to reflect upon our gratitude for their efforts.

On November 22, 1963, the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, as he rode in a convertible limousine with his wife, Jackie, and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife, leading a motorcade through the city. President Kennedy was pronounced dead at 1:00 pm Central Time. His death stunned the nation, and it would be difficult to find Americans who were over the age of 8 at the time of his death and who do not clearly remember where they were at the time.

Ex-marine Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested 45 minutes after the assassination and charged with the murder of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit. After several hours of interrogation, Oswald was also accused of the murder of the President. Two days later, Oswald was being transferred to state authorities when he was shot to death by Jack Ruby. The murder of Lee Harvey Oswald was captured on live television.

A special commission was formed to investigate the circumstances of the President's assassination, and the Warren Commission Report came out 10 months afterwards, concluding that Oswald acted alone. Despite their findings to the contrary, polls conducted after 1966 consistently show that a majority of Americans believe that the Warren Commission was either wrong or part of a conspiracy to cover up the true facts of the case.

November is Epilepsy Awareness month. Epilepsy affects approximately 3 million Americans, and it is estimated that one out of ten will experience at least one seizure during their lifetime. Activities during the month include school education programs and workshops for emergency response personnel.

Presidents Warren G. Harding, James K. Polk, James Garfield, and Zachary Taylor were all born in November, as were Winston Churchill and Prince Charles. But lest people think that only statesmen celebrate November birthdays, let us point out that Marie Antoinette was born on November 2. And don't forget Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis. Martin Luther, and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

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