August 5: The Start of the Rio Olympics and Brazil’s Date of Destiny

The Rio Olympics begin today, August 5, 2016. Coincidentally, it is a date affiliated with historical and cultural significance for Brazilians. Let’s take a look at three Brazilians who either were born or died on August 5.

Deodoro de Fonseca
Deodoro da Fonseca
Brazil’s First President: It was on this day in 1827, Deodoro da Fonseca was born. He grew up in Alagoas, when Brazil was a monarchy, and Pedro II was the emperor of Brazil. Fonseca became a military man, and ended up leading an army faction that eventually toppled Emperor Pedro. Fonseca, as head of the coup, became Brazil’s first President.

Oswaldo Cruz

The Scourge of the Scourge: It was on this day in 1872 when Oswaldo Cruz was born. An admirer of Louis Pasteur, and a specialist in bacteriology at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, Cruz played in a significant role in improving the health of Brazilians at the turn of the 20th century. While smallpox had been wiped out in Europe and the US before 1900, Brazil was under threat of a smallpox epidemic in 1904. Under the Mandatory Vaccination Law, which Cruz was responsible for getting legislated, Cruz led an effort that allowed government workers to enter private homes and forcibly vaccinate people against smallpox, as well as to exterminate mosquitoes and rats, to prevent yellow fever and the bubonic plague.

Carmen Miranda
Carmen Miranda
The Brazilian Bombshell: She performed on Broadway, acted with Don Ameche and Betty Grable, and danced with President Franklin Roosevelt, and became the face of Latin America to the world. It was on this day in 1909 when Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha, aka Carmen Miranda, was born. Often wearing her trademark fruit hat, Miranda acted in 14 Hollywood films and becoming one of the most popular people in America in the 1940s and 1950s. It was on this day in 1955 when Miranda passed away.