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During this short month, we celebrate the following:
• American Heart Month
• Canned Food Month
• Great American Pie Month
• National Cherry Month
• National Grapefruit Month

On February 1, 1884, the first portion, or fascicle, of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), considered the most comprehensive and accurate dictionary of the English language, was published. Today, the OED is the definitive authority on the meaning, pronunciation and history of over half a million words, past and present.
On February 1, 1861, Texas became the seventh state to secede from the Union when a state convention voted 166 to 8 in favor of the measure over the objections of their governor, Sam Houston.

Groundhog Day is celebrated in the U.S. each year on February 2nd. On this day in mid-winter, the groundhog awakens from a long winter’s nap, and goes outside of his den to see if he sees his shadow. According to legend, if the groundhog sees his shadow (a sunny morning), there will be six more weeks of winter. He then returns to his den and goes back to sleep. If however, he does not see his shadow (cloudy days), he plays around outside of his hole for a while. If he does not see his shadow, spring is just around the corner. Our little Groundhog, known as “Punxsutawney Phil,” has been making this annual winter prediction since 1887. For the record, Phil sees his shadow about 9 times out of 10. “The Day the Music Died” Day commemorates the untimely deaths of singers Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, three Rock singers who died in an airplane crash on February 3, 1959 at the height of their popularity.

On February 8, After 19 years of imprisonment, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in England for her complicity in a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth I.
February 10th is National Umbrella Day in honor of one of the world’s most invaluable inventions. On a rainy, day, we Oregonians are especially glad that someone was smart enough to invent it. It’s also increasingly popular to use umbrellas to shade ourselves from harmful UV radiation, and the heat of the sun.

On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

February 13th is “ Blame Someone Else” Day (first Friday the 13th of the year) and is pretty self-explanatory — On this day you don’t have to take responsibility, or the blame, for any faux pas on your part. On the downside, this day comes as a double edged sword. While you are busy putting the blame elsewhere, someone might just be putting the blame on you!On February 17, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected the third president of the United States. The election constituted the first peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another in the United States. In addition to drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson had served in two Continental Congresses, as minister to France, as secretary of state under George Washington and as John Adams’ vice president. Vicious partisan warfare had characterized the campaign of 1800 between Democratic-Republicans Jefferson and Aaron Burr and Federalists John Adams, Charles C. Pinckney and John Jay. As president, Jefferson made some concessions to his opponents, including taking Hamilton’s advice to strengthen the American Navy. In 1801, Jefferson sent naval squadrons and Marines to suppress Barbary piracy against American shipping. He reduced the national debt by one-third, acquired the Louisiana Territory. His sponsorship of the Lewis and Clark expedition opened the west to exploration and settlement. Jefferson’s first term ended in relative stability and prosperity, and in 1804 he was overwhelmingly elected to a second term.

On February 22, 1732, George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Initially a loyal British subject, Washington eventually led the Continental Army in the American Revolution and was elected the first President of the United States. Washington became known as the father of the United States.

On February 23,1861,President-elect Abraham Lincoln and his entourage showed up unexpectedly at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., thus foiling a Baltimore plot against his life. Shortly after departing his home in Springfield, Illinois, his aides received reports of a planned assassination attempt in Baltimore and ordered the train to proceed immediately to Washington.

On February 23, 1954, a group of children from Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received the first injections of the new polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk. After mass inoculations began in 1954, everyone marveled at the high success rate–some 60-70%–until the vaccine caused a sudden outbreak of some 200 cases. After it was determined that the cases were all caused by one faulty batch of the vaccine, production standards were improved, and by August 1955 some 4 million shots had been given. Cases of polio in the U.S. dropped from 14,647 in 1955 to 5,894 in 1956, and by 1959 some 90 other countries were using Salk’s vaccine.

On February 23, 1945, during the battle for Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, the highest point on the island of Iwo Jima and a key strategic point. Later, Marine commanders decided to raise a second, larger flag, an event which an Associated Press photographer captured on film. The resulting photograph became a defining image of World War II.

Sources: www.holidayinsights.com; www.history.com

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