On This Day: My Fascination With Historical Anniversaries

On This Day

How an Antarctic explorer began my interest in anniversaries and what I’ve done with this strange fascination.

My fascination with anniversaries started bang on my birthday.

I’ll never forget sitting at the computer in school, trying to act all innocent while surfing the internet. It was too risky to log onto Facebook without the teachers noticing so out of sheer boredom, I went onto the Wikipedia page.

I was on the home page when I noticed a formal picture of a man wearing a Royal Navy uniform. Ironically, this image was under the heading ‘On This Day’. He was standing resolutely, holding a Navy hat in one hand, every inch the proud officer.

Who was this man, you may ask?

My birthday was the 100th anniversary of Robert Falcon Scott’s death

Captain Robert Falcon Scott, British Navy Officer, and Antarctic Explorer. I discovered that my birthday in 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of his death on his return journey from the South Pole. Scott and his comrades had hoped to be the first to reach the Pole, but were ultimately beaten by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team. By 29 March 1912, Scott and his comrades were dead. They were just 11 miles from their One Ton depot camp that could have saved them.

This revelation came as a surprise. I already knew that there was another big 100th anniversary coming up that year (in April as you will see below) but to know that my birthday marked an anniversary such as this, was completely unexpected.

Admittedly at the time, I put this aside for a while and I didn’t think much more about it. I mean, come on, it was my birthday! I had a good excuse! Of course, the following month saw the commemoration of the Titanic’s sinking. I still have my special editions of the Irish Independent that cover this anniversary. I’d later return to the story of Robert Falcon Scott the following year when I studied the poem ‘Antarctica‘ by Derek Mahon for Leaving Cert English. It was one of the better poems that we studied.

Birthdays were a strong connection between Scott and his team. Titus Oates, who Mahon based his poem on, is said to have died on his 32nd birthday, 17 March 1912. I’d later read The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge about events during Terra Nova that happened on each team members’ birthday. It’s my birthday that connects me with Scott and my fascination with amniversaries.

Over the years, I kept up with important historical anniversaries, occasionally recording them in my diary. I remember being in college and deliberately buying another copy of the Irish Independent that included a special paper commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. I also remember sitting in the college library, writing down about the sinking in my diary. I was determined to make sure I marked that anniversary.

As to why, I guess it all came down to my great love of history growing up. I was always looking up various events, inadvertedly recording the dates of when they took place. I really didn’t think I’d do anything with this; that is until I studied for my Master’s in Griffith College.

I’ll always be grateful to this course as it helped me develop skills that I didn’t even know that I had. I studied Radio Production where one of our assignments was to create a radio documentary of our choice. I went down the anniversary route and created a piece covering the 1981 Hunger Strikes in Northern Ireland. I wanted to do something that covered the 40th anniversary. I created my own script, had voiceover work done, I even managed to interview one of the ex-prisoners. We had a great talk about his experiences and I was really proud of my work.

When I took a class in Video-Journalism and Documentary, we were told to create our own short documentary on any topic we wanted. I went down the historical route after an inspiration visit to Glasnevin Cemetery. I focused my documentary on the story of Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan, calling it Se Plota. I was really happy with the final result.

Considering that I was just learning the basic skills of radio and video production, these creations turned out really well. My lecturers were also very complimentary, saying that I present very well and should consider doing more of this work.

That was what got me thinking. Maybe I could do more of this work. Over that summer, I did some thinking before finally deciding that I was going to open up a YouTube channel. I was going to use my channel to talk about events in history that happened on a particular day of the year.

That summer, I set to work, creating my first video, deciding the topic to cover, what I would name my channel, how I would go about presenting. After some thought, I decided to call my channel On This Day.

It took some time to get used to working on these videos. I had nothing but my phone, a tripod and my laptop. But gradually, I began to get used to it and started to share content on YouTube relating to events in history. Now please don’t get the wrong impression; I am not looking to become a professional YouTuber or influencer. I create these videos because I enjoy creating them.

When 22nd August 1922 rolled around, I was determined to make sure I covered this anniversary on my channel because it was a very important one for Ireland. It marked 100 years since the assassination of Michael Collins in 1922 and there was a lot of commemoration across Ireland for that event.

This video and my Se Plota documentary are the videos that I am most proud of doing so far. I put a lot of work into my videos and I want to make sure that they are being seen and enjoyed by viewers. As I expanded my list of topics, I decided to expand onto TikTok. I know also on a TikTok account, working under the username @onthisdaywitheidhne. It also has seen a steady rise in views.

Over a decade has passed since my fascination with anniversaries began and it doesn’t show signs of going away any time soon. I’ve managed to take this interest and use it to my advantage with my videos on TikTok and YouTube. As to where this interest will go in the future, I’m not sure yet. But I’ll always remember the day of my birthday when I logged onto a school computer and my fascination began.

Why the 2023 Academy Awards Proved There’s No Such Thing as Too Late

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After seeing the results of this year’s Academy Awards, I’ve realized that maybe it is okay to slow down on working toward my dreams.

In recent years, the biggest problem that I’ve dealt with is the fear of being too late. I want to be successful in my life and career and I feel that if I want to be successful, I need to make it happen NOW. I’m reaching my 27th birthday and worry that I haven’t achieved anything substantial in my life. I fear that if I don’t do anything now, it’ll be too late. I’ll have nothing.

I know that I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other people my age, but I can’t help it. I look at all the other people I know, the ones who are making names for themselves, and wonder why can’t I be like that? Everything falls into place for them, while no matter how hard I try, nobody seems to take me seriously. I sometimes feel trapped while everyone else has a perfect life, and I’m left thinking to myself: When is it MY turn?!

That question is why I push myself every day to work hard and make something of myself. Admittedly, there are times when I can push myself a bit too hard, but I just feel that I need to make myself be recognized for my work NOW. The biggest worry for me is that if it doesn’t happen now, in ten years’ time, it’ll be too late.

There are some people who don’t understand my feelings because they’re settled; I’m not. There are some who say that I should have a life as well. That makes me mad; I don’t spend every day holed up in my room working. But at the same time, you can’t just laze about and dream. You have to work hard to make your dreams come true and I feel that I don’t have the right to waste time not working toward success. Is it wrong to have a desire for success as well as happiness?

I’ve always worried about being too late in achieving any success or recognition in my life. That is until I saw the results of this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

Much to the relief of everybody, there were no major scandals (or slaps) at the Academy Award ceremony this year. The biggest winner this year was Everything Everywhere All at Once, winning seven awards in total. There was a very touching moment when Harrison Ford presented the award for Best Picture to the cast and crew of this film for reasons I’ll explain down below. Meanwhile, John Williams broke his own record for the most received nominations in history, receiving his 53rd nomination for composing the musical score for The Fabelmans, while Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio won Best Animated Feature. There was even an Irish victory with An Irish Goodbye winning Best Live Action Short Film.

But it was those who won the acting accolades who really struck a chord with me. Some of them were anticipated, and others were unexpected. But it was these four people who proved to me that maybe it’s never really too late to reach success in your life and achieve your dreams.

(From left to right) Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser, and Jamie Lee Curtis celebrating their victories at the Academy Awards

It was these four people who proved to me that success is not defined by your age. They have shown me that it is never too late to achieve success in your life.

Ke Huy Quan‘s amazing story of going from a forgotten child star to an Oscar-winning actor has captivated everybody. He started off his career as Short Round in the 1984 Indiana Jones movie, The Temple of Doom, starring alongside Harrison Ford himself. The embrace they shared during the Best Picture session, touched everybody. Quan also starred as Data in the 80s’ classic The Goonies. But as he got older, he found it harder to land roles, so he ended up leaving the film industry in 2002, thinking he’d never act again. In 2018, he decided to take a chance and return to acting and it paid off brilliantly. He has now become the first Vietnamese-born actor to win Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards for his role in Everything Everywhere All at Once. He finished off his Oscar speech, reaching out to everybody with a dream.

“Dreams are something you have to believe in, I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive. Thank you so much for welcoming me back — I love you!”

– Ke Huy Quan

Meanwhile, actress Jamie Lee Curtis won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the aforementioned Everything Everywhere All at Once, her first Oscar nomination since she began her career in 1977. She is most recognized for her work in the horror genre, starting off her career as Laurie Strode in the Halloween franchise. Since then, she has achieved great success in both film and television, with roles in Trading Places (1983), My Girl (1991), and Freaky Friday (2003). Only now, however, at the age of 64, has she been ever nominated for an Academy Award. To be nominated is an achievement in itself. But to win is at a whole other level. Sometimes, with all of her success, it is easy to forget that Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of popular 1950s actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Both of her parents achieved Academy Award nominations throughout their careers (Curtis for Best Actor in The Deviant Ones in 1958 and Leigh for Best Supporting Actress in Psycho in 1960). But there is a difference. Her parents were only ever nominated; they never won. But their daughter did.

“To all of the people who have supported the genre movies that I have made for all these years, the thousands and hundreds of thousands of people, we just won an Oscar together.

And my mother and my father were both nominated for Oscars in different categories. I just won an Oscar.”

– Jamie Lee Curtis

Another award this movie achieved was Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh. Starting off her career as a stunt person, Yeoh gained recognition for her work in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000). However, it wasn’t until she joined the cast of Star Trek: Discovery (2017-2020) that she gained worldwide recognition for her work. Now, at the age of 60, Yeoh has finally gained worldwide acceptance for her work after winning the Best Actress accolade this year, the first Malaysian to win an Academy Award in any category. Yeoh has proven to herself and to the world that dreams do come true, no matter what age you are.

“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that … dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime. Never give up.”

– Michelle Yeoh

But the biggest success of this year’s ceremony is certainly Brendan Fraser who won Best Actor for his role in The Whale. His story is probably one of the greatest career comeback stories in history. For a long time, many said that his career was over and that he had no chance of ever achieving success in Hollywood again. But now, Fraser has proven everyone wrong with this win at the Academy Awards. He started off as a successful 90s star before his career slowed down in the 2000s due to marital problems, health issues, and a serious allegation of sexual assault committed against him in 2003, which essentially saw him blacklisted from Hollywood. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d see him act in a movie ever again. But as it turned out, I and millions of others were completely wrong. With The Whale, Brendan Fraser gives the performance of his life and proves that success is out there. At 54, it was finally his turn to reach success. From his speech, it’s clear that he was overwhelmed by said success but it was certainly well-deserved.

“I’ve been at that sea, and I’ve rode that wave lately and it’s been powerful and good and I’ve also had that wave smash me right down to the ocean floor and drag my face along there and wind up on some strange beach in a different world, wondering ‘where am I now?’ But believe me, if you just stay in there and you put one foot in front of the other, you get to where you need to go. Have courage.”

– Brendan Fraser

These four people and their victories at the Academy Awards this year really struck a chord with me. All of these actors have achieved recognition and success at different times in their lives. They proved that it is never too late in your life to achieve success and recognition.

I keep looking at the pressure that I’ve been putting on myself to achieve success in my own life. And I’ve realized that maybe it’s okay to ease off on the pressure a little bit. I’ve been worried that if I don’t achieve anything now, at this point in my life, it could be too late in ten years’ time. But maybe it’s not. I’ve felt that I need to reach a successful point in my life right now. But looking at the four success stories from this year’s Oscars, I understand now that success will come for me at the right time. It may not be right now, but it will happen. I can work for it, there is nothing wrong with that. But it’s also okay to ease off a little and enjoy myself. That’s success in its own way.

Right now, I don’t know when I will achieve success and recognition in my life. But it’s something I can work towards and enjoy living my life at the same time.