An anniversary that is about more than taxes

An anniversary that is about more than taxes

    Tax day has arrived. The deadline overshadows all else in the middle of April. But April 15 actually commemorates a number of historically significant – and in some cases, ghastly – incidents. Here are a few:

  • April 15, 1861: President Abraham Lincoln calls Congress into special session: Two days after the fall of Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C., Lincoln issues a proclamation convening Congress and calling for 75,000 volunteers to fight the rebels. 

  • April 15, 1865: Lincoln dies.  The 16th president had been shot in the head April 14 as he watched a play at Ford Theater in Washington. He is pronounced dead the next morning at a house across the street.

  • April 15, 1912: The Titanic sinks. Shortly before midnight on April 14th, an iceberg is spotted -- but too late. The Titanic strikes it. By the early morning hours of April 15th, the ship is sinking and more than 1,500 lives are lost.

  • April 15, 1920: A double murder in Braintree, Mass., launches the Sacco and Vanzetti case.  At 3 p.m., April 15, 1920, a shoe factory paymaster and his guard are carrying the payroll out of the building when they are shot and killed. After three weeks of investigation, police arrest two Italian immigrants, Nicola Sacco, a shoemaker, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, a fish peddler. The two are known to be anarchists, labor organizers and antiwar protestors. Despite a lack of evidence, the two are convicted and sentenced to die. This prompts protests around the world, but even so, the two are executed in 1927. Fifty years later, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis issues a proclamation declaring that “any stigma and disgrace should be forever removed from the names of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.” (See the document on the Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society website.)

  • April 15, 1989: Former Chinese leader Hu Yaobang dies. The New York Times obituary describes Hu, who died at 73, as a leader who helped “navigate China away from orthodox Marxism and led the world's largest Communist Party for six years until he was forced to resign in disgrace in January 1987.” His death, reportedly the result of a heart attack, immediately prompts students to rally in Tiananmen Square. The standoff between protestors and authorities culminates on June 4. The National Security Archive recounts that the Chinese Red Cross estimated 2,600 military and civilian deaths with 7,000 wounded.

  • April 15, 2013: Bombs erupt at Boston Marathon. As fans cluster about the finish line watching runners complete the prestigious Boston Marathon, two bombs erupt, killing three and injuring an estimated 264 others. An investigation centers on two ethnic Chechen brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, subsequently killed in a shootout with police, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, still awaiting trial.

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