11 January 1908

The Grand Canyon National Monument is created.

On January 11, 1908, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt declares the massive Grand Canyon in northwestern Arizona a national monument.

Though Native Americans lived in the area as early as the 13th century, the first European sighting of the canyon wasn’t until 1540, by members of an expedition headed by the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. Because of its remote and inaccessible location, several centuries passed before North American settlers really explored the canyon. In 1869, geologist John Wesley Powell led a group of 10 men in the first difficult journey down the rapids of the Colorado River and along the length of the 277-mile gorge in four rowboats.

By the end of the 19th century, the Grand Canyon was attracting thousands of tourists each year. One famous visitor was President Theodore Roosevelt, a New Yorker with a particular affection for the American West.After becoming president in1901 after the assassination of President William McKinley, Roosevelt made environmental conservation a major part of his presidency. After establishing the National Wildlife Refuge to protect the country’s animals, fish and birds, Roosevelt turned his attention to federal regulation of public lands. Though a region could be given national park status–indicating that all private development on that land was illegal–only by an act of Congress, Roosevelt cut down on red tape by beginning a new presidential practice of granting a similar “national monument” designation to some of the West’s greatest treasures.

In January 1908, Roosevelt exercised this right to make more than 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon area into a national monument. “Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he declared. “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

Congress did not officially outlaw private development in the Grand Canyon until 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Grand Canyon National Park Act. Today, more than 5 million people visit the canyon each year. The canyon floor is accessible by foot, mule or boat, and whitewater rafting, hiking and running in the area are especially popular. Many choose to conserve their energies and simply take in the breathtaking view from the canyon’s South Rim–some 7,000 feet above sea level–and marvel at a vista virtually unchanged for over 400 years.

10 May 1908

Mother’s Day is observed for the first time in Grafton, West Virginia.

Prior to the Civil War, Anne Reeves Jarvis worked to start clubs to teach local women how to care for their children. Following the war, these “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” helped reconcile a region divided. After her death in 1905, her daughter Anna Jarvis envisioned Mother’s Day as a way to honor the sacrifices that mothers made for their children. She worked to gain financial backing from a department store in Philadelphia and in May 1908, she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a church in Grafton, West Virginia where her mother had taught classes for many years. The day, celebrated in Grafton and in Philadelphia where Miss Jarvis currently lived, was a success.

Anna Jarvis worked to see her holiday added as an official U.S. holiday. She undertook a massive letter writing campaign and wrote to newspapers and prominent politicians. She established the Mother’s Day International Association to promote her efforts and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure to put May 2nd on the map as an official holiday honoring mothers across the United States.

Mother’s Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful U.S. occasions. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States. The occasion is now celebrated not so much with flags as with gifts, cards, hugs, thank yous and other tokens of affection. While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day on different days and at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May. In some countries, the appreciation lasts for two days.

Today, Mother’s Day is a day honoring mothers, celebrated on various days in many places around the world. It is the day when you acknowledge your mothers contribution in your life and pay a tribute to her, often with flowers and gifts. It complements Father’s Day, the celebration honoring fathers.

 

20 April 1908

The New Wales Rugby League competition starts.

The 1908 NSWRFL season was the inaugural season of the New South Wales Rugby Football League’s premiership, Australia’s first rugby league football club competition, in which nine clubs competed from April till August 1908. The season culminated in the first premiership final, for the Royal Agricultural Society Challenge Shield, which was contested by Eastern Suburbs and South Sydney. In 1908 the NSWRFL also assembled a New South Wales representative team for the first ever interstate series against Queensland, and towards the end of the season, the NSWRFL’s leading players were absent, having been selected to go on the first Kangaroo tour of Great Britain.

Early in 1908, a number of Rugby Football Union clubs held meetings across Sydney and Newcastle to decide whether or not breakaway clubs should be formed in preparation for the new Rugby Football League’s premiership that was to start in the following months. The popularity amongst players in support of the new competition was overwhelming, with only some players deciding to continue playing in the traditional amateur Rugby Football Union competition. The Rugby Football League clubs that were formed were essentially breakaway clubs, and in most instances, teams continued the use of their team colours into the new competition. A key aspect of the new code was that players would be paid for playing the game. Adopting the playing rules of the rebel Northern Union of England, the new competition began in earnest in Australia on Easter Monday, 20 April 1908.