My mother’s birthday is Sunday. She will be 76. She was born in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression. I thought it would be kind of fun to look back at the year Mother was born and see what else was going on besides her auspicious birth. I found out some rather amazing things:
January 12, 1932:
Hattie W. Caraway becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate.
I think that’s incredible considering that women only were allowed to vote when the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1920. Women had been seriously fighting for the vote since 1848. So, it took them 72 years to get the right to vote and only 12 years to elect the first female US Senator. And just think: this year we had a female US Senator as a serious candidate for the Presidency. I predict it won’t be too much longer until we have our first woman President of the United States.
The son of Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped.
I can’t even imagine what my mother’s parents would be feeling for the Lindberghs in their despair since they had a little 3 year old daughter and were expecting another child (my mom). I wish MaMa was still alive, so I could ask her about that. I had never made the connection before that this tragic event was probably very upsetting to her. Come to think of it, I wonder if MaMa even knew she was expecting another child when this news first came out.
April 28, 1932:
A vaccine for yellow fever is announced for use on humans.
Despite having the vaccine available for humans for over 75 years, yellow fever still is rampant in some parts of the world today. In fact, in 2001, it was estimated that yellow fever causes over 200,000 illnesses and over 30,000 deaths every year in places that remain unvaccinated. We have the means to alleviate this problem, but still we allow at least 30,000 people to die every year from something that could be wiped out of existence. That’s really sad.
May 21, 1932:
Ten weeks after his abduction, the infant son of Charles Lindbergh is found dead in Hopewell, New Jersey just a few miles from the Lindbergh’s home.
Again, I imagine my grandparents had to know that they were expecting another baby by the time the dead infant was found. How terrible for the Lindberghs and for all families who clutched their children closer and feared something happening to their families. I’m sure I would be thinking that if a prominent family such as theirs was hit with this kind of tragedy, then surely my family would be even more susceptible. That’s not really accurate thinking, though. Scripture tells us that the rain falls on the just and unjust. Bad things happen to bad people and good people, regardless of fame or wealth.
May 21, 1932:
Amelia Earhart, because of bad weather, lands in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Again, a woman makes history! 1932 was quite a monumental year for women. I wonder if my mother ever looks back at the year of her birth and thinks that she could have been famous for something accomplished. I’ll have to ask her. Of course, she did give birth to me, and it’s not a bad thing being knows as my mother! But it probably won’t go down in the history books. Unless I become famous!
June 6, 1932:
The Revenue Act of 1932 is enacted, creating the first gas tax in the United States, at a rate of 1 cent per US gallon (26 ¢/L) sold.
And just this campaign year, one of the hottest issues during the Democratic primary was whether the government should waive the federal gas tax to help alleviate the consumers’ pain at the gas station. Of course, even if that was enacted, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference to me as I fill up my tank with gas. But all of that unlevied tax would be another reason for our government to achieve a higher deficit. Just as the gas tax was enacted to help out the government back in 1932 and thereby stimulate the economy, our U.S. Senators and Representatives are arguing about whether there should be a quarter percent tax on the sale of stocks, to allow the Stock Market to aid in its own rescue. I personally don’t think that’s a bad idea at all.
July 20, 1932:
In Washington, D.C., police fire tear gas on World War I veterans part of the Bonus Expeditionary Force who attempt to march to the White House.
July 28, 1932:
US President Herbert Hoover orders the United States Army to forcibly evict the “Bonus Army” of World War I veterans gathered in Washington, DC.
I’m not a real student of history, not as I should be. Until fairly recently in my life, I never “liked” history. But now I’m interested in finding out about the history of the world, and particularly about my own country. This is an event in history that I was never taught about in any history class I ever took, and I find it appalling and scary. To make a long story short, the Veterans of WWI were awarded Bonus Certificates, which were basically worth the difference in pay the veterans could have been paid if they had not enlisted because soldiers are never paid the kind of wage a civilian is, which is a sad thing. After WWI, the certificates were given out, but they weren’t redeemable for the full amount until they matured in 1945. When times got so hard during the Great Depression, Veterans were allowed to get loans of up to 50% the value of their bonus certificates. The only problem was there was not enough money to make all the requests for loans. Veterans banded together and marched on Washington, DC to demand that the government pay them what was rightly theirs. There were over 3,000 of these Veterans and their family members in this self-named Bonus Army. President Hoover ordered the U.S. Army to disperse the Bonus Army and make them leave Washington. Led by General George Patton, the Army ended up charging against its own veterans, wounding many and killing several. Civil employees lined the streets to watch this incredulous battle against American citizens by the American Army. They shouted at the top of their lungs, “Shame! Shame!” Eventually, to make things right, the Veterans Administration was created to make sure Veterans are treated fairly. Even today, we see how our Veterans of the Iraqi war do not get adequate medical care. Sooner or later, hopefully sooner, our country will stand up and take better care of our Veterans.
August 23, 1932:
The Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd is renamed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is one of the few Middle Eastern Muslim countries in modern times where women are forced to cover themselves in public. They are also prohibited from talking with men in public and participating in business activities. Saudi Arabia is also home to a well-known terrorist group, the Wassabis. And, Osama bin Laden is a renegade member of the Saudi royal family. Many rumors of Saudi financing for Al Qaeda exist. Yet, we are “friends” with Saudi Arabia. We really do need to overcome our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
October 3, 1932:
Iraq gains its formal independence from Great Britain, but British troops remain in the country, and the country is split into competing factions –tribes and cities, Shiites and Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds, pan-Arabists and Iraqi nationalists — which makes it difficult for one political group to gain enough support to lead.
Sound familiar? Now its mainly U.S. troops there! The current death toll for U.S. soldiers in Iraq is over 4,000. Over 30,000 U.S. soldiers are wounded. I really do hope we can exit from Iraq as quickly as is safely possible.
October 5, 1932
Caroline Jean Smith is born. (My mom)
Happy birthday, Mother! I love you and I appreciate all you have done for me over the years. You’ve always been there to support me since I’ve been an adult. Every single crisis I’ve ever experienced, you have been faithfully by my side. Thank you so much.
U.S. presidential election: Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats Herbert Hoover in a landslide victory.
Can we hear a rousing chorus of “Happy Days Are Here Again”? I certainly hope that the same thing happens this November in our election. Roosevelt brought hope and rebirth to the United States during a very troubled economic time. We desperately need that hope again.
November 24, 1932:
In Washington, DC, the FBI Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (better known as the FBI Crime Lab) officially opens.
And I bet they would have never dreamed that when TV was invented and widespread in the U.S., that CSI programs would be so prevalent and so popular! I do love a good CSI episode.
German physicist Albert Einstein granted a visa.
Eventually, Einstein became a U.S. citizen in 1940. One of the most interesting things about Einstein to me are his views on religion. I really connect with him as he discusses God. In writing about religion, he distinguished three styles which are usually intermixed in actual religion. The first is motivated by fear and poor understanding of causality, and hence invents supernatural beings. The second is social and moral, motivated by desire for love and support. Einstein noted that both have an anthropomorphic concept of God. The third style, which Einstein deemed most mature, is motivated by a deep sense of awe and mystery. He said, “The individual feels … the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves in nature … and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.” Einstein saw science as an antagonist of the first two styles of religion, but as a partner of the third style. So do I.
December 27, 1932:
Radio City Music Hall opens in New York, City.
I’ve been there, but I’ve never seen a show there. As a little girl, I always wanted to go see the Rockettes perform. I still have that desire on my “bucket list.” What’s not to like about a group of dancers performing in unison to lively music? It’s just one of those things that makes me smile.
So, as you can see, 1932 was a pretty monumental year for a lot of reasons. There were some disgraceful things that happened, some scary things, some sad things, and some joyous things. But isn’t that just like life? It surely is.