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Ash Wednesday!

Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday.  This religious event is observed annually during the first day of Lent in many Westen Christian denominations.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of a 40-day period which is an allusion to the separation of Jesus in the desert to fast and pray. During this time he was tempted.

This day is celebrated annually but the dates vary.  Ash Wednesday is exactly 46 days before Easter Sunday, it is a moveable feast based on the cycles of the moon. The earliest date Ash Wednesday can occur is 4 February which is only possible during a common year with Easter on 22 March, which happened in 1598, 1693, 1761 and 1818 and will next occur in 2285.  This year Ash Wednesday is celebrated today, February 26th. The latest date Ash Wednesday can occur is 10 March (when Easter Day falls on 25 April) which occurred in 1666, 1734, 1886 and 1943 and will next occur in 2038.

Those who attend such Catholic services, whether in a church or elsewhere, traditionally take blessed ashes home with them to place on the heads of other members of the family, and it is recommended to have envelopes available to facilitate this practice.

In some of the low church traditions, other practices are sometimes added or substituted, as other ways of symbolizing the confession and penitence of the day. For example, in one common variation, small cards are distributed to the congregation on which people are invited to write a sin they wish to confess. These small cards are brought forth to the altar table where they are burned.

In the Ambrosian Rite, ashes are blessed and placed on the heads of the faithful not on the day that elsewhere is called Ash Wednesday, but at the end of Mass on the following Sunday, which in that rite inaugurates Lent, with the fast traditionally beginning on Monday, the first weekday of the Ambrosian Lent.

So, today, if you are a practicing Christian, you can go to church and be blessed with ashes on your forehead in preparation for Lent.  Share on social media using #AshWednesday.

1945 U.S. troops recapture the Philippine island of Corregidor

On February 26, an ammunition dump on the Philippine island of Corregidor is blown up by a remnant of the Japanese garrison, causing more American casualties on the eve of the U.S. victory there.

In May 1942, Corregidor, a small rock island at the mouth of Manila Bay, remained one of the last Allied strongholds in the Philippines after the Japanese victory at Bataan. Constant artillery shelling and aerial bombardment attacks ate away at the American and Filipino defenders.

Although still managing to sink many Japanese barges as they approached the northern shores of the island, the Allied troops could not hold the invader off any longer. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, commander of the U.S. armed forces in the Philippines, offered to surrender Corregidor to Japanese Gen. Masaharu Homma, but Homma wanted the complete, unconditional capitulation of all American forces throughout the Philippines. Wainwright had little choice given the odds against him and the poor physical condition of his troops—he had already lost 800 men. He surrendered at midnight. All 11,500 surviving Allied troops were evacuated to a prison stockade in Manila.

(excerpted from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/corregidors-last-gasp)