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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

September 6, 1997

It's the first Tuesday Timeline for September 2016, and I have to say that I am feeling optimistic about this month.  The summer of 2016 wasn't that spectacular, and I am more than willing to move on towards fall.

I just wish today's subject was just as optimistic, but hey, you can't win 'em all.  For now, let's have a look at what happened on this date in history.

1492 - Christopher Columbus sails from La Gomera to the Canary Islands before setting out on his journey to cross the Atlantic Ocean for the first time

1522 - The Victoria becomes the first ship to circumnavigate the world

1628 - The Puritans settle Salem, Massachusetts

1803 - Symbols are first used to represent the atoms of different elements by scientist John Dalton

1861 - Paducah, Kentucky is captured by the army led by Ulysses S. Grant during the American Civil War

1870 - Louisa Ann Swain becomes the first woman to legally cast a vote in the United States

1901 - President William McKinley is shot and killed at the Pan-Am Expo in Buffalo, New York

1916 - Piggly Wiggly opens its first location in Memphis, Tennessee

1939 - South Africa declares war on Germany during World War II

1944 - Ypres, Belgium is liberated by Allied forces as Soviet forces capture the city of Tartu, Estonia

1947 - Disco/R&B singer Sylvester (d. 1988) is born in Los Angeles, California

1966 - Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd - the architect of apartheid - is stabbed to death during a parliamentary meeting in Cape Town, South Africa

1968 - Swaziland becomes an independent nation

1972 - Nine athletes from Israel lose their lives at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich - they had been kidnapped and held hostage by a terrorist group and died during a rescue attempt

1984 - Country singer Ernest Tubb dies at the age of 70

1985 - Thirty-one people are killed when Midwest Airlines Flight 105 crashes immediately after takeoff from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1986 - Bananarama's version of the Shocking Blue single "Venus" becomes a #1 hit on the Billboard Charts

1990 - Creedence Clearwater Revival guitarist Tom Fogerty dies at the age of 48

1995 - Cal Ripken Jr. plays his 2,131st consecutive baseball game - a record not broken since 1956

2003 - The single "Shake Ya Tailfeather" by Nelly, P. Diddy, and Murphy Lee reaches the top of the Billboard charts

2007 - Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti passes away at the age of 71

And turning one year older this September 6 are the following famous (or infamous) faces; Jo Anne Worley, David Allan Coe, Roger Waters, Swoozie Kurtz, Jane Curtin, Buddy Miller, Carly Fiorina, Michaelle Jean, Jeff Foxworthy, Michael Winslow, Simon Reeve, Scott Travis, Chris Christie, Elizabeth Vargas, Mark Chesnutt, Rosie Perez, William DuVall, Macy Gray, CeCe Peniston, Cheyne Coates, Dylan Bruno, Idris Elba, Anika Noni Rose, Nina Persson, Cisco Adler, Foxy Brown, Kerry Katona, Max George, and Matt McAndrew.

Now, this is the date that we're going to be taking a look at eventually.  The date is September 6, 1997.  But before we do that, we're going to go back one week earlier when news broke of a devastating accident that sent the whole world into shock.

Here's my question to all of you.  Where were you when you first heard the news of Princess Diana's car accident in Paris, France?

I can tell you exactly where I was.  It was Saturday night, August 30, 1997.  It was the last weekend before the start of eleventh grade, and after playing a rousing game of "Super Mario RPG", I turned on the radio to my favourite radio station to hear the Saturday Night '80s show that aired each week.  Somewhere in between "Mony Mony" by Billy Idol and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen came the announcement of Diana's car crash, and I just remember being in complete shock.  At that time, Diana's companion, Dodi Al-Fayed was already declared dead, as was the driver of their car, Henri Paul, so there was still hope that Diana would at least survive.

Sadly, on August 31, 1997, Diana, the Princess of Wales, passed away, just 36 years old.  She left behind her two sons, William, then aged 15, and Harry, just two weeks shy of turning thirteen.  And, I'll tell you something, her death did send a little bit of shockwaves through me.  Although I never got the chance to meet the woman, I feel as though most of us knew her based on the extensive media coverage dedicated to her.  We learned about how she supported several charities, how she was devoted to her two children, and even saw her cut a rug with John Travolta once in a while!  Her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981 was one of the most watched global broadcasts at that time, with some 750 million people watched the couple exchange vows.

Of course, by 1996, the couple's divorce was finalized, so maybe the wedding wasn't as much of a fairy tale as was projected.  But still, it was an event that captured the attention of everybody who was alive at that time - though I'm sure I was sleeping through it on account that I was only two months old then.

Sadly, an even larger audience (two billion people are estimated to have watched part of the broadcast worldwide) tuned in to say a final farewell to Diana on Saturday, September 6, 1997.

I know.  I was one of those who watched part of it.  As I remember correctly, almost every television station (with the exception of The Weather Network and TVOntario) aired the funeral procession, so there wasn't a whole lot to watch at that time anyway.

As far as funeral services go, I do feel as though it was a beautiful service, even though the occasion was extremely solemn.  I mean, here was a woman who was the embodiment of elegance, class, and goodwill taken way too soon.  It's always a sad occasion when someone dies before they are meant to.  It was especially heartbreaking to see Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry walking behind the coffin, knowing that this would be their final goodbye.

It appeared as though a lot of people wanted to pay their respects to Diana as well.  Between August 31 and September 5, people lay flowers, cards, and stuffed bears at the gates of Kensington Palace - and still continued to do so months after her funeral, and on the morning of her funeral, an estimated one million people lined the streets outside of Westminster Abbey to pay their respects to Diana.

It seemed fitting that her longtime friend, Elton John - who had been comforted by Diana just one month earlier at the funeral services for fashion designer and mutual friend Gianni Versace - would write the song that would be performed at the service.  It was a reworking of a 1973 song written by Bernie Taupin about another woman who had passed away, Marilyn Monroe.

ARTIST:  Elton John
SONG:  Candle in the Wind 1997
ALBUM:  Something About The Way You Look Tonight (single)
DATE RELEASED:  September 13, 1997

Okay, so there wasn't too many changes made between the two versions - the most obvious one being the opening line which changed from "Goodbye Norma Jean" to "Goodbye, England's Rose".  But it was a great way to honour her, and I'd like to think it was one final gift that Elton John gave to his friend.

And lest you think that Elton John profited from the song, you would be absolutely mistaken.  Every pound and dollar that was raised from the sales of the single went toward all of the various charities that Diana supported over the years.

It seems so hard to believe that it has been nineteen years since Diana was laid to rest.  The world has changed a lot in that time, as has the Royal Family.  Prince Charles wed Camilla Parker Bowles - the very woman that Charles had an affair with while still married to Diana.  Prince William found his own Princess in Kate Middleton, and together they have two children, George and Charlotte.  And Prince Harry has yet to settle down with anybody yet, though his relationships have seemed to become tabloid fodder - much to the chagrin of the Royal Family given the circumstances behind Diana's death in the Parisian tunnel.  Prince William is just two years away from being the same age that Diana was when she passed away.  It's mad how time goes by so quickly, isn't it?

And yet, even though nineteen years has passed since Diana left this world, her legacy continues to shine brightly, and she is still fondly remembered as the People's Princess.  Mainly because she probably understood the people more than any other monarch in history.

She will continue to be missed dearly.

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