Friday / Weekend Open Lines

Friday, May 29th. This date 11 years ago was the Saturday before Memorial Day, and thus appropriate for the dedication ceremony for the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Authorized in 1993, the memorial honoring the 16 million Americans who served in the global conflict, including the 400,000 dead, received nearly $2 million in donations and pledges, thanks in part to the efforts of actor Tom Hanks as spokesman for the memorial campaign. Currently, of the more than 21 million living veterans in the U.S., there are nearly 1.8 million from the Second World War, including some 128,000 that served in the Korean War as well. As of two years ago, veterans of the smaller Korean conflict now slightly outnumber those of World War II. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.

Saturday, May 30th. The nation’s first daily newspaper, the short-lived Pennsylvania Evening Post, began publication on this date in 1783, printed by Benjamin Towne in Philadelphia. Americans’ hunger for news was such that by 1850, there were some 250 dailies. The number of newspapers peaked around a hundred years ago, when there were 2,600 dailies published across the nation, with a circulation of over 24 million. Today, the number of daily newspapers in the U.S. has dropped to around 1,330. In the year 2000, there were almost 56 million daily subscribers. Within a decade, that number dropped by 10 million. The publishers of daily or other papers employ some 230,000 workers in the $29 billion newspaper business. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.

Sunday, May 31st. One of the worst calamities to hit the U.S. happened on this date in 1889 — the Johnstown, Pennsylvania Flood. Torrential rains caused a nearby artificial lake to spill over and weaken its earthen dam. When the dam broke, it unleashed 20 million tons of water in a giant wave that roared through Johnstown, killing more than 2,300 men, women and children, and destroying the homes of thousands more. The flood remains one of the nation’s most costly, single weather-related disasters. While tornadoes often take more lives, flooding is a constant threat to life. An annual average of 85 deaths occurred in the years between 1984 and 2013. Johnstown has been spared since 1977, when 85 died. Currently, almost 21,000 people make Johnstown their home. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.