It’s April 15, and while it is not the day of infamy that President Franklin Roosevelt spoke of, it has been a date that has seen some great tragedies.
The date is the anniversary of the most famous disaster at sea, the death of one president and the funeral of another; a historic flood and the spark of an uprising in China.
We could mention Tax Day, but who needs that downer.
But the date has also seen triumphs of the human spirit, the birth of one of history's greatest inventors and the start of a hamburger empire.
Here are just some of the things that have happened on this day in history:
- President Abraham Lincoln died at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865, about nine hours after being shot in the head as he and his wife, Mary, attended a performance of the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Lincoln was the first U.S. president to be assassinated.
- At 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, the Titanic sunk to the bottom of the North Atlantic as members of the ship’s band played “Nearer My God to Thee.” There were not enough lifeboats on the ship as she embarked on her maiden voyage just days before, and 1,514 people lost their lives when the ship hit an iceberg and sank.
- After months of heavy rains through the Mississippi Valley, 15 inches of rain fell in 18 hours on April 15, 1927 causing the Mississippi River to flood more than 27,000 square miles in 10 states. Singer Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927” was written about that flood.
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt was buried on the grounds of his Hyde Park home on April 15, 1945. He died from a cerebral hemorrhage – a stroke – on April 12, 1945, in Warm Springs, Georgia.
- A meteor exploded over Indonesia at 11:20 a.m. on April 15, 1988. The blast, which witnesses say created a flash of light equivalent to the brightness of the sun, was calculated to be equal to 5,000 tons of high explosives.
- Students in Beijing launched a series of pro-democracy protests on April 15, 1989. Those demonstrations would end as the Chinese government clashed with the students at Tiananmen Square. A photo of a student standing in front of a tank in the square would be seen around the world.
- On April 15, 2013, bombs encased in pressure cookers would explode at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people, including an 8-year-old, and injuring 260 more. One of the two brothers who planned and executed the attack was killed later during a shootout with police. The other brother was captured, tried, convicted and sentenced to death.
- Into the early morning hours of April 15, 2014, more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted by the terror group Boko Haram.
Lest you go through the day with a cloud over your head, remember, good things have happened on April 15, as well. Here are a few:
- In 1755, Samuel Johnson published the first English dictionary, “A Dictionary of the English Language,” in London.
- On April 15, 1923, Lee De Forest introduced Phonofilm to an audience at the Rialto Theater in New York City. The quality of Phonofilm, a sound-on-film system which had synchronized sound and dialogue, wasn’t very good, but was the forerunner of talking films.
- Rand McNally published its first road atlas on April 15, 1924.
- In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in a Major League Baseball game in the modern era when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Moses Fleetwood Walker was the first black baseball player in the major leagues. He played for one season, 63 years before Robinson took the field on that April day.
- Ray Kroc began the McDonald’s chain of fast-food restaurants on April 15, 1955.
- On April 15, 2011, a replica of Elvis Presley’s home Graceland opened in Randers, Denmark. The building contains a museum, restaurant and shop in addition to the nearly identical replica of the Presley’s Memphis home.
- Leonardo DaVinci was born on April 15, 1452. Author and Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom was born on this day in 1892 (she died on her birthday in 1983); singer Bessie Smith and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev were both born on April 15, 1894; country singer Roy Clark was born on April 15, 1933; Princess Diana’s boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed, was born on April 15, 1955; comedian Seth Rogen was born on this date in 1982 and Emma Watson was born on April 15, 1990.
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