An Ode to April 15
When I was younger, I felt bad for April 15.
You read that right—I actually had sympathy for tomorrow's date. I was an odd child, sure, but hear me out. There was a reason.
You see, March 15 had that cool “Ides of March” vibe. And once I learned that the Romans only called the fifteenth day the “ides” during FOUR months (March, May, July, and October), I had two thoughts.
First, April got stiffed—it was the first month of the year to follow one with an ides on the fifteenth and yet not have the same. Poor thing.
Second, the Romans sure had some odd calendar designers.
But I grew up a bit, and I came to feel less sorry for April 15. To appreciate it. Because the day, it turns out, has an amazing history of its own.
In the US, of course, we primarily think of tomorrow as Tax Day—the date by which we file our returns if we know what's good for us. But there’s much more. Did you know the RMS Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912? That Jackie Robinson broke major league baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947?
As the years went by, I discovered that it was not just a memorable date for Americans.
Our friends in England remember April 15 as the anniversary of the worst disaster in British sport—the crushing deaths of 93 football fans at Hillsborough in 1989.
No need to fret, though; Brits can take pride that this day witnessed the births of prominent UK natives like author, MP, and scoundrel Jeffrey Archer; Dead Again’s talented actress Emma Thompson; chesty 80s vixen Samantha Fox; and budding Harry Potter minx Emma Watson.
(It’s also Dodi Al-Fayed’s birthday, but that’s a sore subject with many Diana lovers.)
I became aware of the date's dark side, too. John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865. The Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen was only liberated, finally, on April 15, 1945. Responding to Libya's sponsorship of attacks on Americans, US airplanes struck Tripoli on April 15, 1986.
In the Asia file, it’s known as former North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung’s birthday—and the day that the Cambodian butcher Pol Pot finally died in 1998. Remember the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing? They began on April 15, 1989.
And, in the most infamous association of all, the first McDonald’s opened in Des Plaines, Illinois on this same day in 1955. Read Fast Food Nation or watch Super Size Me; you’ll understand my scorn.
Yes, April 15 is special. It’s so remarkable that even the French like it. After all, it was on April 15, 1450 that the Frenchies soundly defeated English forces at the Battle of Formigny, ending English domination in northern France.
That probably explains why President Chirac didn’t wait a few days, until April 15, to buckle under the recent protests of spoiled French workers.
He didn’t want to spoil the anniversary of the last significant battle that the French fought while facing FORWARD.