Today is June 4th.

On this day in history…

  • 780 BC – The first historic solar eclipse is recorded in China.
  • 470 BC – Birth date of Socrates, Greek philosopher (d. 399 BC).
  • 1039 – Henry III becomes King of Germany.
  • 1135 – Death of Emperor Huizong of China (b. 1082)
  • 1534 – Prince Edward Island sighted by Jacques Cartier.
  • 1615 – Forces under the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu take Osaka Castle in Japan.
  • 1742 – Le Canada launched; first French warship built in Canada sails for Rochefort, France.
  • 1760 – Great Upheaval: twenty-two ships carrying New England planters arrive to claim land in Nova Scotia Canada forcibly taken from the Acadians.
  • 1783 – The Montgolfier brothers publicly demonstrate their montgolfière (hot air balloon).
  • 1792 – Captain George Vancouver claims Puget Sound for Great Britain.
  • 1798 – Death of Giacomo Casanova, Italian lover and writer (b. 1725).
  • 1843 – Founding of the town of Victoria, British Columbia.
  • 1917 – The very first Pulitzer Prizes are awarded.
  • 1919 – Mayor of Winnipeg mobilizes protest against Winnipeg General Strike.
  • 1928 – Death of Chang Tso-lin, Chinese warlord (b. 1873)
  • 1939 – Holocaust: The SS St. Louis, a ship carrying 963 Jewish refugees, is denied permission to land in Florida, United States, after already having been turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, most of its passengers later die in Nazi concentration camps.
  • 1940 – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill says Britain will ‘fight on alone’ if necessary, with the Commonwealth
  • 1940 – RAF’s 242 ‘Canadian’ Squadron posted to France.
  • 1940 – Dunkirk evacuation completed when 340,000 Allied troops arrive safely in Britain. Canadians recross the Channel with only six men missing.
  • 1941 – Death of Kaiser Wilhelm II, last German emperor (b. 1859)
  • 1942 – World War II: Battle of Midway begins. Japanese Admiral Chuichi Nagumo orders a strike on Midway Island with much of the Imperial Japanese navy.
  • 1943 – Military coup in Argentina ousts Ramón Castillo.
  • 1944 – Bomber Command starts operations against railheads and coastal batteries as a prelude to D-Day.
  • 1973 – patent for the ATM granted to Don Wetzel, Tom Barnes and George Chastain.
  • 1976 – Canada takes charge of the Continental Shelf, declaring 370 km (200 nautical mile) offshore fisheries jurisdiction zone, effective Jan 1, 1977; Canada to set numbers of fish harvested and quotas for foreign fleets.
  • 1979 – Joe Clark (1939- ) takes office as Canada’s 16th Prime Minister one day before his 40th birthday; succeeds Pierre Trudeau, PM since April 20, 1968. Canada’s youngest PM, and the first native westerner to serve as Prime Minister, Clark includes in his cabinet the first black minister (Lincoln Alexander) and the youngest ever cabinet minister (Perrin Beatty, 29).
  • 1980 – Gordie Howe announced his retirement as a professional hockey player at age 52.
  • 1983 – Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers is one of 19 Canadians killed as Air Canada DC-9, flying from Texas to Toronto, catches fire and has an emergency landing; 23 of 46 passengers and crew die of smoke and flames due to a fire caused by smoking in a washroom.
  • 1988 – Start of week-long, record-breaking heatwave on the Manitoba and Saskatchewan Prairies.
  • 1989 – The Tiananmen Square protests are suppressed in Beijing and are covered live on television.
  • 1989 – Solidarity’s victory in the first partly free parliamentary elections in post-war Poland sparks off a succession of peaceful anti-communist revolutions in Eastern Europe and leads to creation of the so-called Contract Sejm.
  • 1989 – Ufa train disaster: A natural gas explosion near Ufa, Russia, kills 575 as two trains passing each other throw sparks near a leaky pipeline.
  • 1989 – Brother Maynard and his now-wife wed in Otterburne, Manitoba
  • 1990 – Brian Mulroney calls first ministers conference in final push to get unanimous support for Meech Lake Accord before June 23 deadline for ratification. Manitoba’s Elijah Harper gained national fame by refusing to accept it, ultimately leading to its final demise.
  • 2003 – Martha Stewart is indicted by a federal grand jury on nine criminal counts including securities fraud, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy.
  • 2004 – The 15th anniversary of the crackdown of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 is marked in Hong Kong by a candlelight vigil. Police keep Tiananmen Square and other places in mainland China free of demonstrators.

June 4th holidays and observances:

  • Feast day of St Francis Caracciolo
  • Feast day of Saint Petrock of Cornwall
  • International Innocent Child Abuse Victim Day
  • Hong Kong – Tiananmen Square Protest of 1989 memorial day

Sources: Wikipedia and Sympatico. You’ll find a more information and events on this day in those two locations; my list is weighted toward Canada, but on the whole, China figures most prominantly on this day.


The Tiananmen Square protest and massacre was 17 years ago today. Now in 2006 my wife and I are the same age, within a few weeks, as Joe Clark was when he became Prime Minister of Canada… and I’m remembering the day. June 4th, 1989 wasn’t at all bad for me personally, though the event struck home for because I had stood in that square and walked around it two years previously. Buried in the list above, you’ll note that 17 years ago today was also the day my wife and I were married. Happy anniversary, wife! The Tiananmen Square protest was basically the first news that we heard after our wedding day, and was of course such a major event that since it’s been marked every year since, I sincerely doubt I shall often, if ever, forget our wedding anniversary as some husbands have a reputation for doing.

My good wife reminded me last evening of an incident from that moment in our lives. On the morning of June 5, 1989, sitting in a nice hotel restaurant in downtown Winnipeg having breakfast, we asked each other what we’d like to do for our honeymoon. We were mostly-broke but footloose and spontaneous, not to mention jobless, having just finished college. One of us said “west” and the other said “south” so we drove southwest from Winnipeg, passing the Grand Canyon, heading through Las Vegas, and finally stopping at Tijuana and heading north to San Francisco and then up the west coast to Vancouver before turning east and heading home via the Yellowhead route, arriving home having spent pretty much every penny we had and needing to find jobs quickly in order to make rent at the end of the month. It was a great honeymoon trip that provided hours and hours of driving and talking and dreaming about life ahead… a plan that I think is better than a honeymoon trip full of schedules and timelines. Maybe we’ll have the funds one of these years for a big anniversary trip. Maybe…. I think our 10th anniversary was mostly spent celebrating our oldest daughter’s first birthday, which was naturally as full of joy as one can hope from the roadmap of life, and we’ve no regrets as to how that milestone was marked.

Along our honeymoon drive north from San Diego along the west, we travelled late at night through I-forget-where and for a couple of hours there was only us and a guy on a Harley running along a twisty stretch of highway in the dark. Someplace in Oregon I expect. We’d drive alongside each other, pass each other, and then do it over again. When we finally pulled into a town, he pulled up alongside and motioned to ask us if we wanted to stop for coffee, and we did, and pulled into a little coffeshop parking lot behind him.

“Thanks for that run up through the canyon,” he said as we sat down at a booth inside. “It really helped keep me awake.” Ray was an older gentleman, and he explained to us that he’d purchased his Harley the year before, but this was his first ride on it; he had just picked it up and was riding it home. He and his wife had planned to do the trip together, but she had died not long after the purchase had been made and he was just now able to face up to making the trip alone. You could hear the lonliness in his voice. We talked for an hour or so, exchanging stories and listening to the advice he offered us as a young couple just starting out. Somewhere late in the conversation, he offered us a place to bed down for the night (or what was left of it)… as it turned out, he was staying with his brother who was less keen on bunking some strangers found along the highway somplace. We got directions to a nearby campground and parted ways. We’ve never seen or heard from Ray since that night, but we think of him from time to time, and I hope his lonliness was resolved with happiness somewhere along the way. Talking with him that night changed my young wife’s preconceived notion of “bikers,” and here at the outset of our life together, he provided us with a glimpse of life some years down the road of married life. The lesson we took away from the advice that he and his experience offered us was never to take our years together for granted. I think sometimes we’ve forgotten that advice, but thankfully, never for too long at a single stretch.

I remember some years back lightly mocking the couple in a group who had been married the least amount of time… you remember how that first anniversary is, when as a young couple you go all-out on the celebration and book weekends away at fancy resorts or put hours and hours of effort into an evening’s plans. “Just wait,” we told them, “after a few years, the level of celebration will drop off.” That particular year, my wife and I had celebrated our anniversary with dinner at the food court in the mall, followed by a full-price movie. We told them at the time that eventually it’d be down to a second-run flick. As time goes on — and if you’re newly married you may not believe me, but just trust me, it’s true — the magnitude of what you’re doing to celebrate drops off, sometimes to almost nothing, and all that remains is the very deep and meaningful significance that you’re still doing it together. It’s no longer the size of the gift that counts, but the little gestures.

My wife does the night shift in a senior’s home primarily for veterans, and she worked last night. She brought me home a coffee from Tim’s for breakfast, and woke me up by intentionally wafting its aroma beneath my nose. She borrowed the movie The Notebook for us to watch this evening, too. I don’t think she even knows what the story is or how it ends, but I do. And I suspect there will be tears. My wife’s mother is now in her 80’s; my in-laws have quite the life-story of their own, but 80-plus is getting on, and she isn’t as spry as she once was. We’re dealing with the whole aging parents thing, and with the movie she unwittingly selected… well, by the end of this evening, I think there will be one lesson remaining before us, and not a bad anniversary reminder at that: never to take our years together for granted.

And sometimes when I’m properly remembering this lesson, I think I’m the luckiest jackanapes alive. (Go ahead, look it up. It fits all too well!) Thanks be to God.

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