September 17 Notebook

–Happy Constitution Day. Senator Robert Byrd inserted a provision into a spending bill last year — later approved by Congress and signed by the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — that directs schools that get federal money to conduct some sort of educational program every year on or around September 17th. That’s the date in 1787 the Constitution was signed. The requirement is actually a pretty loose one. The University of California set up a Constitution Day website, and doing that little bit would have complied with Byrd’s law. (At UC Berkeley, the occasion will be marked with a panel discussion at the law school, open to anyone).

–Happy 143rd anniversary of Antietam. Well, yes, happy might not be the word. After the battle that consumed a beautiful summer day in the woods and cornfields around Sharpsburg, Maryland, “nearly 6,000 men lay dead or dying, and another 17,000 wounded. … The casualties at Antietam numbered four times the total suffered by American soldiers at the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944.” (From “Battle Cry of Freedom,” by James McPherson).

Beyond the carnage, the North’s strategic victory gave Lincoln political breathing space to promulgate the Emancipation Proclamation.

–Happy Harvest Moon. It’s tonight.

–Happy birthday to Dominic Hickey, born in Berkeley on this date in 1983, while I played with his older brother Dylan and my son Eamon in a park down the street from his folks’ place. He’s a senior this year at UC Irvine. Hey, it seems like yesterday,

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