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Q&A: How Armed Forces Day came to be

Armed Forces Day's origin

Do we still have an Armed Forces Day? Didn't it used to be a Saturday in May?

Armed Forces Day is always on the third Saturday in May; this year, the 15th. First celebrated in 1950, it was a way to unify what had been separate days for each branch of the armed services.

MacArthur's son out of spotlight

Gen. Douglas MacArthur had one son. Did he ever follow his father into the military?

Arthur MacArthur IV declined to follow in his father's footsteps to West Point and went to Columbia University instead. His principal interests are literature, art and theater. He has led a life of anonymity since his father's death in 1964.

William Manchester, author of American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, wrote, "Apparently being a MacArthur was too much; after his father's death, Arthur moved to the other side of Manhattan and took an assumed name. His identity thus concealed, he lived for his music, a fugitive from his father's relentless love."

Named after his famous grandfather, a Civil War veteran, Arthur MacArthur was born in Manila on Feb. 21, 1938, the only child of Gen. MacArthur and Jean Marie Faircloth.

Airplane tires use nitrogen

I know that bicycle tires have higher pressure than car tires. What is the pressure of commercial airplane tires? How often do they have to change the tires on big planes?

While a passenger car generally runs on tires inflated to 28 to 35 pounds per square inch, tires on airliners are inflated to about 200 psi. But what's inside the tire isn't simply compressed air, as in car tires. It's nitrogen.

The gas is used for many reasons. For one thing, it expands less than regular compressed air at high altitudes. It's also inflammable. It's less corrosive than air. And it's much drier. At 35,000 feet, it's freezing cold no matter what the time of year. Potentially damaging ice crystals won't form in tires filled with nitrogen.

Despite those precautions, aircraft tires don't last long under the heavy use an airliner receives. The strain of takeoffs and landings quickly takes its toll, and according to tiremaker Bridgestone, the tires average about 250 to 300 takeoff-and-landing cycles before they must be retreaded.

Story behind 'the projects'

How did the term "the projects" come to mean government-subsidized housing for low-income individuals?

The "how" is unclear, but one of the definitions of project is a large coordinated undertaking. So it was a logical step to put the word "housing" next to the word "project" to describe government-funded housing. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the phrase to a 1932 article about federal aid for "low-cost housing and slum-clearing projects." The American affinity for brevity eventually knocked the word "housing" off the front.

Q&A: How Armed Forces Day came to be 04/26/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 26, 2010 10:45pm]
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