Archive for the ‘On this day in history’ Category

As I type this, people from all over the country are gathering in Minneapolis for this weekend’s Superb Owl* game. For over a week I’ve been meaning to go downtown and bring you a full report of the ice sculptures and the zipline over the Mississippi river, plus an assortment of other Superb Owl* festivities. […]

On this day 73 years ago, French and American troops liberated Paris from Nazi occupation. Louise Dillery remembers; she was there. Louise was born in Paris on December 14, 1925 to Radjzla (“Rose”) Silberstein and Israël Gradstein, Jewish Polish immigrants who met in Paris. My mother was from Warsaw, and my father was from Lodz […]

If you live in the U.S., you likely find yourself in one of the following states tonight: 1. tired of hearing about the eclipse, 2. dying to see your next eclipse, or 3. disappointed you missed the eclipse. I first learned of the now-infamous solar event on April 27, 2017 in the Palm Beach Post’s […]

Before visiting a new city Esteban and I usually read up on its history. But thanks to an overambitious itinerary, we knew little about Rouen when we arrived in September of 2015. Rouen was among Europe’s most prosperous and influential cities during the Middle Ages. Our first night was a blur (I’ll tell you about […]

Graphic created with images and posts compiled from UNICEF’s Twitter feed. All images copyright UNICEF. Read more about UNICEF’s work with refugees.

Image copyright Pete Souza / White House

In memory of Leonard Cohen, 9/21/1934 – 11/10/2016

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. — a day to remember and honor those we’ve lost to the senseless tragedy that is war. Here’s one story, about a distant relative, I first published in 2014. May Doug and his sacrifice never be forgotten. On September 27 1942, Douglas Albert Munro sacrificed his life in […]

I would love to hear your end-of-year reflections: 1. What was your greatest accomplishment? (Tell me so I can cheer for you!) 2. If you could do one thing over, what would it be? 3. What are you most looking forward to in 2016? I had to think hard when I read my friend Carolyn’s […]

This post is dedicated to my friend Gilles Thomas, for his tireless devotion to preserving the work — and honoring the memory — of Charles-Axel Guillaumot. Suppose you’ve been hired to oversee a vast and vital railroad network. Now imagine that, on the very first day of your new job, one of the trains on […]

What the hail?!


“In Minnesota it’s not May 3rd today; it’s the 54th of February.” I was pretty winter-weary when I posted that on Facebook two years ago. The winter of 2013 was rough. But what a difference two years make! Today was glorious — sunny and 81 (27C) degrees — so I spent a few hours gardening. […]

Today is the third annual United Nations International Day of Happiness. I was going to write about a U.N. study’s findings that Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking, and the epidemic of loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity.” But that seemed a bit too depressing and scholarly. So […]

During my first visit to Freiburg, Germany, one of the things that most impressed me was the meticulously cobbled streets. So precisely cut are the stones that you can walk on them for hours without tiring — and the mosaics are as much of a feast for the eyes as the shop windows above them. […]

On Sunday, an estimated 1.3 million people marched in Paris — the largest gathering since the city’s liberation from the Nazis — to show their solidarity and support for free speech. Some 40 heads of state led the march, and La Marseillaise echoed through the narrow streets once again. All very historic stuff. But the […]

With one possible exception, I don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions. If something in our life needs fixing, why wait until January 1? But I’m a huge believer in the power of our small, everyday choices: Every thought and action moves us either closer to our best selves — or farther away. In that […]

Today marks the centenary of my favorite Christmas story. It happened in 1914, only five months after the beginning of World War I. The British soldiers who huddled in the trenches must have been miserable that clear December evening, as a blanket of damp and darkness enveloped them. The winter of 1914 had been fierce […]

I admit it: I can’t top my 2012 Thanksgiving post. Reading it today, I was struck by how grateful I felt just to be alive. And please don’t get me wrong — I still am! Insignificant as I may be, I still regard my very existence as a miracle. And yet … sometimes, as I […]

According to an eyewitness who survived the bombing, the residents of Freiburg never saw it coming. They had every reason to think they’d be spared: Their small city in the foothills of Germany’s Black Forest had no military installations, and it was not on the Allies’ target list. Plus, they knew that British Prime Minister […]

“The Palace of Versailles helped us understand the French Revolution,” I wrote in 2006, after Esteban and I took a day-trip out of Paris to see the (in)famous home of Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette. “After a couple of hours we, too, felt like donning pitchforks.” Here’s the digital-album page I made shortly […]