The General Assembly designated May 29th as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers (inaugurated in 2001), the same date in 1948 when the first UN peacekeeping mission, the "United Nations Truce Supervision Organization" began operations in Palestine. This is a day to pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication, and courage of all the men and women serving in the UN peacekeeping operations, and honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the quest for peace.
Since 1948, more than 2980 military, police, and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents, and disease. On this day, UN offices alongside Member States and non-governmental organizations hold solemn events to honour fallen peacekeepers.
UN Peacekeeping operations use this day to strengthen bonds with the local populations they have been deployed to serve; they hold sporting events, school and orphanage visits, art and essay competitions, photo exhibits, neighbourhood clean-ups, tree plantings, concerts, and conferences and workshops on peace issues.
The 2013 theme for this day is "Un Peacekeeping: Adapting to New Challenges". United Nations peacekeeping has adapted its policies, revised its structures, and developed new practices and training to better perform its life-saving work.
Today is also Learn About Composting Day, National Senior Health & Fitness Day, Put a Pillow on Your Fridge Day, and World MS Day.
Here are some interesting things that happened on this day in history:
- Champlain reached the mouth of the Ottawa River in 1613. On June 4 he noted the mouths of the Gatineau and Rideau rivers at the present site of Ottawa.
- An English & Dutch fleet beat France in the Battle at La Hogue in 1692. Also in 1692, Royal Hospital Founders Day was 1st celebrated.
- Patrick Henry made his historic speech against the Stamp Act, answering a cry of "Treason!" with, "If this be treason, make the most of it!" in 1765.
- Lincoln quoted, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." in 1849.
- 15 young women were fired by Curtis Publishing in 1912 for dancing the "Turkey Trot" during their lunch break.
- The CP steamer Empress of Ireland collided with the Norwegian ship Storstad in fog in the Gulf of St Lawrence near Rimouski, Québec in 1914. The Empress sank in only 14 minutes, causing the death of 1014 souls.
- Roy Bonisteel, host of the internationally acclaimed CBC Man Alive television series, was born in Ameliasburg, Ontario in 1930.
- The RCMP ship St. Roch reached Halifax after passing through the Panama Canal from Vancouver in 1950. It was the first ship to circumnavigate North America.
- Edmund Hillary & Tensing Norkay became the 1st to reach summit of Everest in 1953.
- The Hudson's Bay Company head office moved from London, England, to Winnipeg in 1970.
- Québec banned fishing off Gaspé Peninsula due to low fish stocks in 1972.
- Janet Guthrie became the 1st woman to drive in the Indy 500 in 1977.
- Boris Yeltsin was elected President of the Russian republic in 1990.
- In 1996, RCMP officers boarded the Taiwan-registered ship Maersk Dubai and arrested the captain on charges of murdering 2 Romanian stowaways.
- Space Shuttle Discovery completed the first docking with the International Space Station in 1999.
- International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was inaugurated in 2001.
- The World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. in 2004.
- The National Gallery of Canada celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2005 by opening the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and the Renaissance in Florence.
Stay tuned for our next, "On This Day in History"!