Sunday, October 09, 2011

Woodrow Wilson Says No Smoking in Bed

National Fire Prevention Week, which is always in early October, had its origins in commemorations of the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (and the larger Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin on the same day). In the waning days of his administration in 1920, President Wilson got involved, proclaiming National Fire Prevention Day.

Whereas, the destruction by fires in the United States involves an annual loss of life of 15,000 men, women and children and over $230,000,000 in buildings, foodstuffs and other created resources; and

Whereas the need of the civilized world for American products to replace the ravages of the great war is especially great at this time; and

Whereas, the present serious shortage of home and business structures makes the daily destruction of buildings by fire an especially serious matter; and

Whereas, a large percentage of the fires causing the annual American fire waste may be easily prevented by increased care and vigilance on the part of its citizens;

Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, do urge upon the governors of the various states to designate and set apart Saturday, October 9, 1920, as Fire Prevention Day, and to request the citizens of their states to plan for that day such instructive and educational exercises as shall bring before the people the serious and unhappy effects of the present unnecessary fire waste and the need of their individual and collective efforts in conserving the natural and created resources of America.

In 1925, President Coolidge expanded the event to a week, the seven days from Sunday to Saturday encompassing October 9th. Every president down to the present day as issued similar proclamations each year.

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