12 July 1862

The Medal of Honor is authorized by the United States Congress.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is presented to members of the armed forces who have distinguished themselves through acts of valor and heroism, often at the risk of their own lives, above and beyond the call of duty.

History: The Medal of Honor was first established during the American Civil War in 1861 for the Navy and in 1862 for the Army.

Criteria: Recipients must display extraordinary bravery and selflessness during combat against an enemy of the United States. The actions must be well-documented and confirmed by eyewitness accounts.

Presentation: The medal is awarded in the name of the United States Congress, hence it is sometimes referred to as the “Congressional Medal of Honor.” However, its official name remains the Medal of Honor.

Design: There are three different designs of the Medal of Honor for the Army, Navy, and Air Force, each featuring a distinctive shape and imagery. The medal includes a star suspended from a ribbon with a light blue field and 13 white stars.

Recipients: Since its inception, fewer than 3,600 Medals of Honor have been awarded. Recipients are recognized for their extraordinary acts and often receive the medal in a formal ceremony, typically presented by the President of the United States.

Privileges and Honors: Medal of Honor recipients receive special privileges, including higher military pensions, invitations to presidential inaugurations, and the ability to be saluted by other service members regardless of rank.

Citations: Each Medal of Honor comes with a citation detailing the actions that warranted the award, providing a narrative of the heroism displayed.

11 July 1922

The Hollywood Bowl opens.

The Hollywood Bowl is an iconic amphitheater located in Los Angeles, California. Known for its distinctive bandshell, the venue has been a central part of the city’s cultural life since it opened in 1922.

Architecture and Design: The Hollywood Bowl is famous for its shell-shaped design, which provides excellent acoustics and a visually striking backdrop for performances. The shell has undergone several redesigns over the years, with the current version designed by Frank Gehry.

Location: It is situated in the Hollywood Hills, offering scenic views of the surrounding area. The Bowl’s setting in a natural amphitheater contributes to its excellent sound quality.

Events and Performances: The Hollywood Bowl hosts a wide range of events, including concerts, theatrical performances, and community events. It is particularly known for its summer concert series, which features performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as popular music concerts spanning various genres.

Historical Significance: Over the years, the Hollywood Bowl has hosted many legendary performers, including The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and more. It has become a symbol of Los Angeles’ rich musical heritage.

Cultural Impact: The venue is a beloved cultural institution in Los Angeles and attracts visitors from around the world. It is also known for its picnic tradition, where attendees bring food and drinks to enjoy before and during performances.

10 July 1553

Lady Jane Grey takes the throne of England.

Lady Jane Grey, also known as the “Nine Days’ Queen,” was an English noblewoman who was briefly the de facto monarch of England in July 1553. Born in October 1537, she was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII through her mother, Lady Frances Brandon. Lady Jane was a highly educated and devout Protestant, which played a significant role in her brief ascendancy to the throne.

Her claim to the throne was largely orchestrated by John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who sought to prevent the Catholic Mary Tudor from becoming queen after the death of Edward VI. Edward VI, Henry VIII’s son and Jane’s cousin, named her his successor in his will, bypassing his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth.

On July 10, 1553, Lady Jane was proclaimed queen, but her reign was short-lived. Nine days later, she was deposed when Mary Tudor gathered enough support to claim the throne. Mary I, also known as “Bloody Mary,” subsequently imprisoned Jane in the Tower of London. Despite initial reluctance to execute her, Mary eventually ordered her execution after Jane’s father, Henry Grey, became involved in a rebellion against Mary’s rule.

Lady Jane Grey was executed on February 12, 1554, at the age of 16 or 17, making her one of the most tragic and short-lived figures in English history.

9 July 1763

The Mozart family grand tour of Europe began, lifting the profile of son Wolfgang Amadeus.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a prolific and influential Austrian composer of the Classical period. Born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, Mozart showed extraordinary musical talent from a young age. He composed over 600 works, including symphonies, operas, concertos, chamber music, and choral music, many of which are considered pinnacles of their respective forms.

Some of his most famous works include:

Operas: “The Magic Flute,” “Don Giovanni,” “The Marriage of Figaro,” and “Così fan tutte.”
Symphonies: Symphony No. 40 in G minor, Symphony No. 41 in C major (Jupiter).
Concertos: Piano Concerto No. 21, Violin Concerto No. 5.
Chamber Music: Clarinet Quintet, Eine kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music).

Mozart’s music is characterized by its melodic beauty, formal elegance, and emotional depth. He had a profound influence on subsequent Western art music and remains one of the most enduringly popular and respected composers in the history of Western music.

Mozart died on December 5, 1791, at the age of 35, under circumstances that have led to much speculation and myth. Despite his short life, his contributions to music were immense, and his works continue to be widely performed and studied.

8 July 1716

The Battle of Dynekilen forces Sweden to abandon its invasion of Norway.

The Battle of Dynekilen was a significant naval engagement during the Great Northern War. It took place on July 8, 1716, in the Dynekilen fjord, near the Swedish-Norwegian border. The battle was fought between the Swedish fleet, commanded by Charles XII of Sweden, and the Danish-Norwegian fleet, commanded by Peter Tordenskjold.

Background: The Great Northern War (1700-1721) was a conflict in which a coalition of several European powers, including Denmark-Norway, Russia, and Poland, challenged the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in Northern, Central, and Eastern Europe.
Strategic Importance: Dynekilen was a strategic point because controlling it allowed for dominance over the supply routes and the movement of troops in the region.
Forces Involved:
Swedish Fleet: Comprised smaller ships intended to protect supply lines and support land operations in Norway.
Danish-Norwegian Fleet: Commanded by Tordenskjold, consisted of larger ships equipped for naval combat.
Outcome: The Danish-Norwegian fleet achieved a decisive victory. Tordenskjold’s forces managed to capture or destroy most of the Swedish vessels, thereby crippling Swedish naval operations in the area and securing Norwegian waters.
Consequences: This victory disrupted Swedish supply lines and contributed to the broader efforts to weaken Swedish control in the region. It also elevated Tordenskjold’s reputation as a capable naval commander.

7 July 1834

In New York City, four nights of rioting against abolitionists began.

Abolitionists were individuals and groups who advocated for the end of slavery and the emancipation of enslaved people. The abolitionist movement gained significant momentum in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom.

6 July 1484

Portuguese sea captain Diogo Cão finds the mouth of the Congo River.

Diogo Cão was a Portuguese navigator and explorer, notable for his voyages along the west coast of Africa during the Age of Discovery. Born around 1452, he made significant contributions to Portugal’s maritime explorations under the patronage of King John II.

First Voyage (1482-1484):
Diogo Cão is credited with discovering the mouth of the Congo River in 1482.
He erected stone pillars called padrão at various points along the coast, marking Portuguese claims to these territories. One notable padrão was placed at the mouth of the Congo River.

Second Voyage (1485-1486):
Cão continued exploring further south along the African coast, reaching what is now known as Namibia.
He placed more padrões, one of which was found at Cape Cross in Namibia.

5 July 1807

In Buenos Aires the local militias repel the British soldiers within the Second English Invasion.

The Second English Invasion occurred in 1807, following the first unsuccessful British attempt to seize control of Buenos Aires in 1806.

Background: The British sought to expand their influence and control in South America, particularly targeting the Spanish colonies. They believed the Spanish colonies were weak and could be easily taken over, and they hoped to open new markets for British goods.

First Invasion (1806): The British initially captured Buenos Aires in 1806, but local militias and Spanish forces managed to reclaim the city under the leadership of Santiago de Liniers.

Second Invasion (1807): The British launched a second invasion in 1807. This time, they faced even more organized and determined resistance from the local population and militias.

Repulsion of British Forces: The British landed a substantial force and managed to capture Montevideo. However, when they advanced on Buenos Aires, they encountered fierce resistance. The local militias, under the command of Santiago de Liniers and local leaders like Martín de Álzaga, engaged in street-to-street fighting.

Outcome: The British forces were eventually defeated and forced to retreat. This victory was a significant morale boost for the local population and helped foster a sense of unity and resistance against foreign invaders.

4 July 1892

Western Samoa changes the International Date Line, causing Monday (July 4) to occur twice, resulting in a leap year with 367 days.

Western Samoa (now known as Samoa) changed its position relative to the International Date Line in 2011 to improve its economic and business relations with major trading partners, including Australia and New Zealand. By shifting the date line, Samoa aligned its time zone with these countries, making it easier for businesses to operate and communicate, as the time difference was reduced. This change effectively skipped a day, moving Samoa from the last time zone on earth to the first. The shift was aimed at fostering better economic integration and taking advantage of the same working days as its main trade partners.

3 July 1973

David Bowie retires his stage persona Ziggy Stardust with the surprise announcement that it is “the last show that we’ll ever do” on the last day of the Ziggy Stardust Tour.

Ziggy Stardust is a fictional character created by British musician David Bowie. Ziggy Stardust served as Bowie’s alter ego and the central figure of his concept album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” released in 1972. The character is a rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings and is ultimately doomed to self-destruction.

Ziggy Stardust is known for his flamboyant and androgynous appearance, which included striking costumes, makeup, and hairstyles. The persona was a groundbreaking and influential part of Bowie’s career, helping to cement his status as a musical and cultural icon. The Ziggy Stardust persona was retired by Bowie in 1973, but it remains one of the most memorable and celebrated aspects of his legacy.