Saturday, November 3, 2012

Quick History of Falling Back & Springing Forward

Most of my friends and family know I love little historical details and oddities, and that when a trivia type question is posed I almost always reach for my smartphone and look said question up. I decided after having such an instance occur early this morning that I'd try and share some of these with you, my readers.

As I was driving my brother to school early this morning for a band competition, we got to talking about daylight savings time (DST), and how that all started. I had some vague idea of how it got started but wasn't for sure. Being the curious person I am, I looked it up.

The modern concept of DST was first adopted in 1916 by Germany during World War I as a way to save fuel by cutting down on the need for artifice light. Soon after, Britain, France, and many other European nations followed suite, and in 1918, the USA enacted DST legislation.

DST was not popular with many Americans, however, so as soon as WWI ended, Congress ended the practice (despite President Wilson's veto). From that point on, whether or not to enforce any sort of DST was up to the individual states. This practice would continue up until 1942. In that year, as America geared up to fight WWII after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt declared that whole nation was on "War Tile," essentially year-round DST for the duration of the war. America "sprang forward in February of 1942, and wouldn't "fall back" until September 1945. One thing I find interesting about this period was that the timelines were renamed as well. It was "Eastern War Time,""Central War Time," and so on.

Once "War Time" ended in 1945, the USA went back to the old system whereby the individual states chose whether or not to adopt DST. This practice would continue until 1966. By that time, the transportation and broadcasting industries were complaining that the mix-match system made their business complicated and lobbied, ultimately successfully, for a national standard. So, in 1967, the Uniform Time Act went into effect, creating what we would recognize as the modern US DST policy. The exact dates and times have changed since 1967, and there was a brief attempt during the energy crisis of the 1970s to extend the period of DST, but by and large the system has remained the same for the last 45 years.

Okay, so that's it for today's history trivia. Don't forget to turn back your clocks tonight and enjoy that extra hour of sleep!

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