Today is William Willett's birthday. He was born August 10, 1856.
Now you are probably saying to yourself, "Who the heck is William Willett?" Well what he discovered affects all of us twice a year.
He was a British builder who was up early horseback riding in 1905. He realized that most people were not enjoying the best part of the summer day. He came up with the idea of moving the clock forward in the summer to take advantage of the bright beautiful morning and to give more light in the evening. He fought for years to introduce daylight savings time in Britain, but he died never seeing his idea come to a reality.
During World War I, Germany was the first to adopt DST and was quickly followed by Britain and countries on both sides, and eventually America. Daylight replaced artificial light and saved precious fuel for the war effort. The American farmers fought and defeated urban dwellers against DST and with President Woodrow Wilson's help, returned the country to "God's time". In January of 1942, during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted year round DST just forty days after Pearl Harbor.
In the 1960s there was mass confusion in the States when each locality could start and end DST as desired. There were twenty-three different pairs of DST start and end dates used in Iowa alone. On one West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watch seven times in thirty-five miles. The situation cost the railroad timetables alone an equivalent today of over $12 million per year.
In the US from 1987 through 2006 a daylight savings period of almost seven months was in effect: from 2 a.m. the first Sunday in April to 2 a.m. the last Sunday of October. As part of the energy policy act of 2005, the US DST period was extended by three to four weeks in the spring and one week in the fall.
Now it has been extended another month under this law for 2007 and beyond. Now the time is 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March to 2 a.m. the first Sunday in November.
Currently our entire country observes DST except the states of Arizona and Hawaii. Happy 151st birthday Mr. Willett.
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