By Natasha L. Kohlhoff Polak

It’s that time of year again where March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb (or vice versa)…making you think of the returning Spring, warmer days and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day and college basketball’s March Madness.  But that’s not all!  There are also a fair number of notable birthdays that have helped to shape our global culture today.

Sports stars from Bobby Jones, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jennifer Capriati, to reporter Bob Costas have helped make sports exciting for people of all ages and encouraged the love of competition.  No matter what has happened in our economy, sports have always been a major way of drawing the public together, boosting morale and providing entertainment.

What would the world be like without the acting/performing talents and humor from people like Ron Howard, Desi Arnaz, Rob Reiner, Jerry Lewis, or Fred Rogers (known to children as the infamous “Mr. Rogers”)?  Both Jerry Lewis and Fred Rogers have held a special place in their hearts for children from all over the world.  Jerry Lewis is closely tied to his telethon efforts for children with muscular dystrophy, while the imaginative mind of Fred Rogers has reached out to young minds everywhere in helping them learn about life, themselves, and interacting with others.

From contemporary singers to classical composers, Jon Bon Jovi, Karen Carpenter, David Gilmour, Antonio Vivaldi, Johan Sebastian Bach, and Joseph Haydn used music as their means to express their emotions and convey universal sentiments.  With their contributions, secular and non-secular music alike has reached new heights.

Then there are great writers – among them, poets, authors, inventors, geniuses, and thinkers like Dr. Seuss, Jack Kerouac, Rene Descartes, Harry Houdini, Alexander Graham Bell and Albert Einstein.  These men gave the world something to ponder and to explore.  Dr. Seuss helped children everywhere learn how to read with confidence; Alexander Graham Bell enabled widespread communication by inventing the telephone; Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was instrumental in advancing the field of physics; and Houdini pioneered the mastery of illusions, which has spurred generations since to expand on that realm so that it is now a popular entertaining venue for children’s birthday parties.

Visionary artists Michelangelo Buonarroti and Vincent Van Gogh portrayed life in their paintings.  They appealed to the senses, told stories with their work, and have continued to inspire artistic minds everywhere as being among the most studied.

The public has also revered leaders Mikhail Gorbachev, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland; valued the opinions by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Chairman of the U.S. Reserve, Alan Greenspan; and envied entrepreneur Sam Walton for his success in founding Walmart and Sam’s Club.

The world as we know it will never be the same, because of the work of all these remarkable people who have left their marks on our hearts and minds. Happy Birthday to them all!

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