Last year was the (multi)centenary anniversary of a stellar field of those whose names are still known to all. 2010 marks the birth anniversaries of a smaller crop of those who changed their world or ours, or at least made it a more interesting place. But, looking at the list below, quality can indeed make up for quantity.
1710: King Louis XV (“the well-beloved”) of France and Jonathan Trumbull (colonial and post-Revolutionary governor of Connecticut)
1810: composers Frederic Chopin and Robert Schumann, impressario P.T. Barnum, botanist Asa Gray, and father of Assyriology Henry Rawlinson
1910: Mother Teresa, Olympian and Tarzan Buster Crabbe, “Skunk Works” founder and U2 creator Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, directors Akira Kurosawa and Vincenti Minnelli, civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, bandleader Artie Shaw, underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, blues master Howlin’ Wolf, Dulles Airport architect Eero Saarinen, D.C. political columnist Joseph Alsop, and “Adagio for Strings” composer Samuel Barber
Let’s hope there will be some 2010 names to rank with these.