It is impossible not to remember Rana Pratap, the Rajput warrior, on his birthday on May 9, without thinking of his steed Chetak. Shyama Narayan Pandey’s magnificent poem ‘Chetak Ki Veerta’ (http://ramprasadbismil.blogspot.in/2010/09/chetak-ki-veerta.html) is something worth revisiting today.
Internationally, May 9 is celebrated worldwide as Europe Day. It was on May 9 in 1949 that the Council of Europe was founded. But the holiday was only announced by the Council in 1964. The symbols of the Council of Europe – the Flag of Europe as well as the anthem and the insignia – were only adopted by the European Communities in 1985. These European Communities later became the European Union.
American pianist, composer, singer and songwriter Billy (William Martin) Joel was also born on May 9 in 1949.
But long ago in 1671, something equally remarkable had happened on May 9. Thomas Blood, a self-styled Anglo-Irish colonel, actually attempted to steal the crown jewels after entering the Tower of London, with a female companion pretending to be his wife!
Here are other significant events from history that occurred on May 9:
• 1874 – The first horse-drawn bus is introduced in Bombay. Elsewhere, the British archaeologist, Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun was born.
• 1901 – Australia opened its first parliament in the city of Melbourne.
• 1904 – Speed is introduced to steam locomotives when a train called City of Truro crosses 160 km/h.
• 1949 – Rainier III is crowned Prince of Monaco
• 1955 – West Germany joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), at a special ceremony in Paris.
• 1958 – Alfred Hitchcock’s cult classic, Vertigo, premieres in San Francisco.
• 1970 – In Washington, D.C., nearly 100,000 people protest in front of the White House against the Vietnam War.
• 1994 – The newly-elected parliament of South Africa chooses Nelson Mandela to be the first black president of the country.
• 2012 – US President Barack Obama declares his support for same-sex marriages.
• 2015 – Russia stages its most grand military parade in Moscow’s historic Red Square to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory Day.
Text by Aarti Kapur Singh