January 2021

This Day in History… January 20, 1986

First Observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day 

US #1771 was issued two days before King’s 50th birthday.   

On January 20, 1986, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was first observed as a federal holiday after a decades-long battle.

Calls for a holiday honoring King began just four days after his death in 1968 at the age of just 39 years old.  US Representative John Conyers and US Senator Edward Brooke submitted a bill calling on Congress to declare his birthday a national holiday.

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This Day in History… January 19, 1905

Birth of Oveta Culp Hobby

US #4510 – from the Distinguished Americans Series

Oveta Culp Hobby was born on January 19, 1905, in Killeen, Texas.

Hobby’s father was a lawyer and legislator who gave her an interest in politics and law from an early age.  After graduating from high school, she attended Mary Hardin Baylor College for Women and took law classes at South Texas College of Law and Commerce and the University of Texas Law School.  Hobby didn’t complete any of these programs or earn a degree. 

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This Day in History… January 18, 1944

Metropolitan Opera’s First Jazz Concert

US #2054 was issued for the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Opera.

On January 18, 1944, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City hosted its first-ever jazz concert, which raised money for the war effort.

The concert was the result of a reader’s poll for Esquire magazine.  Despite wartime cutbacks, the magazine was popular with GIs, and they sought to increase their popularity by running a poll.  In the poll, readers could vote for their favorite artists for different instruments, as well as singers and big band leaders.

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This Day in History… January 17, 1944

Battle of Monte Cassino

US #2765f – from the 1943: Turning the Tide Sheet

On January 17, 1944, the Allies launched one of the longest and bloodiest fights of the Italian campaign – the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Although Italy had surrendered on September 3, 1943, Germany was determined to fight for control of the Italian mainland.  In a series of head-on assaults, the Allies slowly battled their way up the Italian peninsula to Monte Cassino, 75 miles south of Rome.

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This Day in History… January 16, 1910

Birth of “Dizzy” Dean

US #3408s – from the 2000 Legends of Baseball Sheet

Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean was born on January 16, 1910, in Lucas, Arkansas.

Dean only attended public school until second grade, however he pitched for the junior high school team in Spaulding, Oklahoma, even though he wasn’t a student there.  Between the ages of 10 and 16, Dean worked with his father and brothers as a cotton picker. 

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This Day in History… January 15, 1943

The Pentagon 

US #O117 – War Department Official Stamp

On January 15, 1943, construction on the Pentagon, the world’s largest office building, was completed.

In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt declared a state of national emergency after Germany launched a surprise attack on the Soviet Union.  For many, it seemed very likely that the US would soon enter the war.

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