Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15--A Day That Forever Changed the World

Grit your teeth, bite your tongue, weep, wail, and get out your checkbook and write one to Uncle Sam, for April 15th is upon us. People all over America will experience tremendous heartburn and anxiety, and all for the cause of money. There are a few grim reasons for dreading the 15th, but few of them concern our cash supply, or lack thereof. Journey with me through one day that has forever changed the course of our history….

April 14th. A cruise ship plows quietly through ghostly still waters on a dimly lit night, unaware that she was about to create an incident that would forever alter nautical laws and traditions. Her captain was sound asleep in his extraordinarily comfortable quarters. Never before had such comfort been built for the purposes of luxury and everyone was taking full advantage of their fortune. Telegrams were constantly being sent over a newly developed telegraph system for ocean voyages; the rich were showing off their prestige. In fact, so many messages were sent that the lineman had to issue a command to all other ships in the area, “shut up and get off the line” due to their transmissions concerning icebergs floating into the northern routes. The accommodations were so posh that even the third class and crew’s quarters were better than the first class on most contemporary ships. Truly, the lap of luxury was at the customer’s beck and call. After all, a ticket on this ship cost several thousand dollars, why shouldn’t the rich boast of their achievements? Then the night watchman, from the crow’s nest, signaled, “ICEBERG AHEAD”, and the world would never be the same.

April 15th. The great ship was mortally wounded, her flood compartments were full, and the metal beast was about the split in half due to the pressure on her hull. Electric lights were flickering off and on as screaming passengers and crews fought to maintain control and panic in their efforts to save lives. Women and children were evacuated as quickly as possible, while the men dressed in their finest attire and went to the lounge for a last brandy and cigar. For there weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone on board, some one had to die, the men immediately recognized their duty and held their heads up as they sacrificed all they ever would be for their families. Of the 2228 people on board, 705 survived to tell the truth about that horrible night. A ship named the Carpathia rescued the survivors and became known as the “ship of widows.”

When the Titanic sank in 1912, the world reeled in shock at the loss. Shortly thereafter, the Commerce Act of 1912 went into effect that forever altered our naval laws. One of the foremost of the laws stated that radio operators could not turn off their radios for the night and go to bed. The Coast Guard was formed to keep a watch out for icebergs. The Titanic also coined the term, posh, which was an acronym for Port-side Over, Starboard Home.

April 14th. A war torn nation was welcoming a permanent declaration of peace, for a full surrender had occurred less than a week before. The war was all but over. At last, American lives would no longer be lost fighting to preserve rights and liberties. The President, in an effort to enjoy a night away from the pressures of politics and the restoration of a needful nation, decided to take a night off for some meaningless entertainment. His plate was full in the terms of establishing new and previously uncharted laws and practices. Never before had so many American soldiers fought and died. Never before had such a sacrifice been demanded in the name of liberty. Never before had the policies of our great democracy been so blatantly and forthrightly challenged. Never before had an attack by a military power occurred after so many years of peace. Never before had a nation needed their President more than they needed him now. A lone assassin lurked in the shadows, waiting for a moment when all attention would be on the stage. At just that moment, he stepped forward, placed a pistol against the President’s head, and fired. He was heard yelling, “Sic semper tyrannis,” which ment, “thus ever to tyrants.”

April 15th. The President was taken to a lodging house across the street where he was placed in bed while doctors worked through the night in a desperate attempt to save his life. At 7:20 A.M., 1865, Abraham Lincoln died. His attending physician pulled a sheet over his head and Secretary Stanton said, “Now he belongs to the ages.”

More? On a related note, on April 15, 1861, Robert E. Lee, son of a Revolutionary War hero, and a 25-year veteran of the United States Army, is offered command of the Union Army—an offer he refused. In 1969, North Korea shot down an American Airplane over the Sea of Japan. In 1986, the United States launched an air raid against Libya in response to a terrorist attack on April 5th. In 2009, Tea Parties were held across the nation, for the first time since the American Revolution, in protest of the trillions of dollars spent by the Obama Administration.

So, when you feel blue over the tax money you have to pay, remember that this day has much more significance than you ever imagined. Some very positive events also occurred on the fifteenth:
1738-The bottle open was invented.
1878- Ivory Soap was developed by Procter of Procter and Gamble.
1923- Insulin was made available for diabetics.
1960- 04 x 15 = 60.

And, most importantly, Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald’s in Des Plains Illinois, selling 15-cent hamburgers and 10-cent fries for a first day’s total of $366.12.


Billy Coffey said...

As the father of a diabetic child, I'm most thankful for insulin. But wow, no wonder there's such a black cloud hanging over us every year around this time.

The Titanic is one of those stories that will never die. For a lot of reasons, I guess. But the actions of the men on board that ship still inspire me. And they make me wonder if men today would act so honorably.

Sockrma18 said...

I guess as I lick my envelope closed and stick it in the mailbox to send my precious hard earned cash to the government, I will be in rememberance of what other things have happened in history on this day.

Thanks for sharing! I always learn something from you!

gzusfreek said...

whoa! You have such a wealth of knowledge in that head of yours. Great to think outside the box -- the turbotax box LOL
Great post, Travis:)

Alison Bryant said...

Well written as usual. Kudos. I always love your historical pieces.

What gave you the idea for this?

Talkin' Texan said...

And in 1985 my second child was born. I love this post. Thanks for the wonderful history lesson!

Avily Jerome said...

Wow, thanks for putting this all in perspective, Travis!

On the plus side, we always get money back, so the day itself is not so grim in our house. It's the weeks before hand trying to prepare everything that are brutal for us...

Warren Baldwin said...

Great history and wake up call for Americans. I found your site on Billy Coffey's blog. And I need to ask about those mountains behind you in the picture. Wyoming by any chance?

God's Not Finished With Us Yet... said...

Wow, thanks for sharing all the April 15th events....I had no idea about some of those facts...

And McD's selling burgers for just 15 cents? Wonder if that'll ever come back? Like instead of a dollar menu, a 'CENT' menu....that wouldn't work because then all they'd do is put 99-cent (close to the dollar)...oh well.

Great facts to ponder over. Awesome! I didn't know Insulin was made so long ago either.

Travis said...

Mr. Baldwin,
I thank you kindly for stopping by and for saying hello. Your comments are most welcome.

The photo was taken in Ruidoso, NM on Sierra Blanca near the Ski Apache Resort. I've always been drawn to mountains, and I dearly miss living in them. 7 or 8 or 9 years ago, we were living in the Southern Rockey Mountains and had to move to El Paso...That was a difficult transition...

Have a great day!