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A day of celebration

Did you know Jan. 1, New Year’s Day, is the world’s most widely celebrated day?

That’s understandable in that every country has a first day of the year and most are on the same Gregorian calendar. Most countries, however, do not cherish the day as much as we football-loving Americans do.

I love college football and therefore have a special place in my heart for Bowl Week that begins before and lasts until after Jan. 1 every year. This past Thursday, I was warned by my wife, Peggy, that I was going to blow a fuse in my television remote I used to switch between bowl games all day long. It was a great day.

But Jan. 1 is not only known for being the first day of the year and for football bowl games.

A lot of other important events occurred on Jan. 1 over the years. Our history books show:

Jan. 1, 1892 Ellis Island opened as a door that allowed an estimated 20 million people to enter the United States through the facility.

Jan. 1, 1863 The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the states that were in rebellion with the United States.

Jan. 1, 1895 J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was born.

Jan. 1, 1735 Paul Revere, American patriot, silversmith, and the person who reportedly rode through the night yelling, “The British are coming,” was born.

Jan. 1, 1752 Betsey Ross, reportedly the creator of the American Flag, was born.

Jan. 1, 1956 John F. Kennedy published his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage.”

Jan. 1 is the Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church, is the day the Euro became the common currency for members of the European Union in 1999, and was the date the first Baby Boomer (Kathleen Casey Wilkens) was born and was followed by 78 million other Baby Boomers (including me) born between Jan. 1, 1946 and 1964.

Jan. 1, 1927 was the birth date of Doak Walker, famed college football player at SMU who won the Heisman Trophy in 1948 before going on to be an outstanding professional football player and Hall of Fame inductee. Oops, it looks like we’re back to football again.

That’s OK. It is a good bet you won’t remember any of the non-football Jan. 1 facts above, but it is a good bet many of us will remember who won the Jan. 2, 2009 Sugar Bowl for years to come.

– Mike Kelley is the publisher of The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears on Sundays. He can be reached at mike.kelley@clantonadvertiser.com.