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National
April 15 has been a pretty terrible day in history, then came DaVinci, Ray Kroc and Jackie Robinson
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April 15 has been a pretty terrible day in history, then came DaVinci, Ray Kroc and Jackie Robinson

April 15: A Historically Bad Day

April 15 has been a pretty terrible day in history, then came DaVinci, Ray Kroc and Jackie Robinson

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.

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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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News

  • A Boston bartender jumped into action and is being called a hero after a man started to choke. While behind the bar at Silvertone Bar & Grill on Bromfield Street, Oscar Simoza saw a customer suddenly start to choke. “At one point he’s grabbing his friend’s shoulder and he has like a face like he’s laughing, and then I realize his face turns red,” Simoza said. Silvertone’s surveillance camera caught it all as Simoza jumped into action on Thursday night. Simoza ran down the bar and out in front, right to the bar stool where the man was sitting. He immediately began the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the food from the man’s airway. 'Yeah I moved. I was surprised. I haven’t played rugby in a while so it’s pretty funny I can actually run this way still,' he said. His friend, Stephen Murray, was two seats away. 'And until the 270 pound man hops the bar, then you realize something is going on,' Murray said. Simoza performed the Heimlich maneuver on the man who’s choking on a steak tip. “I was like I’m doing the Heimlich. I’ve never done this before,” Simoza said. When asked how he learned the Heimlich, Simoza replied: “I learned it from watching Baywatch.” That’s right: from watching Baywatch. “We got there fast enough,” Simoza said. The man was OK and customers gave him a big round of applause. With Simoza, what you see is what you get: A big guy who is still fast on his feet and ready to help whether serving a drink or saving a life. “He probably gave me the best tip. Like I say, the best tip ever given to me, ‘Thank you for saving my life,'' Simoza said of the customer he saved.
  • Police in Worcester, Massachusetts are looking for a woman accused of stealing a purse and assaulting employees at a nursing home. The nursing home scuffle on Tuesday morning was all captured on security cameras, showing workers trying to stop the woman who was allegedly trying to steal from them. Police shared the video with WFXT. “Oh my goodness,” said Crystal Makowski, who visited the nursing home on Friday, when seeing the video. The video shows a woman walking into a room at the nursing home. “She started taking things that didn’t belong to her. She took a purse [from] some of the employees and confronted her and she got very violent with them,” said Worcester Police Lt. Sean Murtha. An employee follows behind her into the room and then tries to lock the suspect inside. When confronted, the suspect fights back violently, knocking employees to the ground on multiple occasions. Police say she threw one woman to the ground and slammed another one’s hand in the door. Several other employees jump in to help but the suspect eventually breaks out of the room, pushing over one of the employees, before making an escape. Police say one of the women who fought back has a possible concussion, another broke a finger, and the third has some back trouble. Despite the effort of all three women, police say the suspect got away and now the search is on. Police hope someone recognizes her. Witnesses told police the suspect was driving a maroon SUV that had a Lyft sticker in the back windshield “and had some rims that were out of the ordinary,' Murtha said. 'They were described as fancy rims on the SUV. It stands out a little bit, so hopefully, someone else knows who she is,” said Murtha. Makowski, the nursing home visitor, said the incident “was a shock to the staff.” “This is a very great place, very accommodating, almost like a family here,' she said. “So it would be very unsuspecting for someone to come with that type of motivation.” Police said this wasn’t the first time someone has robbed the nursing home. “I hope they get her. This is where you feel safe, and the last place you expect someone to go for a robbery, as well as doing an assault,” Makowski said. If you have any information, you’re asked to call Worcester Police.
  • Dozens of strangers showed up Friday afternoon at the Jacksonville National Cemetery to make sure a Florida homeless veteran got the proper burial he deserved. Many of the people attending didn’t know John Meade Jr. was a veteran when he was alive. But they wanted to honor him properly, now that he’s gone. “He was very much appreciated, and we all appreciate the service that he did. Not only for everybody else, but what he stood for,” said Shirley Greco, who attended the ceremony. He had a lot of family at his funeral – maybe not in blood, but in spirit. “I really do wish that he could be here to see the turnout today for him, I really do. And I think there’s a way that he knows how it turned out today,” Greco said. “Whoever the vet is, doesn’t get buried with no family, so we become their family,” Wayne May said. For at least 10 years, Meade sat on a bench in downtown St. Augustine every day, and was a friendly face to everyone who passed by. While he talked to everybody, no one knew much about him. After Meade died, an officer with the St. Augustine Police Department spent 80 hours digging for information about him. When the officer found out he served in the Army, he wanted Meade to have a proper burial. He asked the community to come out to Jacksonville’s National Cemetery, and they showed up by the dozens. “People did care about him, and he’s never alone,” said Ken White, a veteran. “I wish I would’ve known him,” another veteran said.
  • Three Georgia men have been arrested after police say they were involved in a white supremacist group that had plans to overthrow the government and kill a Bartow County couple. Luke Austin Lane, 21, has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and participation in a criminal gang known as “The Base.” Lane was arrested Wednesday at his home in Floyd County. Michael John Helterbrand, 25, of Dalton, and Jacob Kaderli, 19, of Dacula, were also arrested in other locations. They were also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and participation in a criminal street gang. The members of The Base are described as a “racially motivated, violent extremist group that sought to ‘accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war and establish a white ethno-state,’” according to a news release from Floyd County police. The group, which has the motto “learn, train, fight,” brings together white supremacists with varying ideologies. According to an affidavit, “members of The Base” would recruit new followers and communicate through a variety of online platforms and encrypted online messaging applications and chat rooms.” Its organizers recruit fellow white supremacists online — particularly seeking out veterans because of their military training — and train members in military-style camps in the woods, according to experts who track extremist groups. Some of the topics discussed in these chat rooms included support for the gunman involved in the 2018 mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, how to react to law enforcement if they show up with a warrant, the idea of suicide by cop and other methods to escalate white supremacy, the affidavit said. The arrests came after an undercover FBI agent infiltrated the group and participated in shooting drills in the mountains of northern Georgia, according to a police affidavit. The drills were being done in preparation for what they believe is an impending collapse of the United States and ensuing race war. At the end of the firearms training, the Georgia men wore tactical gear and balaclava hoods while posing for photos with the undercover agent and the photos were later used in the group’s propaganda, the affidavit says. Lane, Kaderli and the undercover agent drove to the couple’s home in Bartow County to scope it out, according to the affidavit. After checking out the property and the surrounding neighborhood, Lane suggested using a sledgehammer as one way of breaching the door, then killing them with revolvers, according to the affidavit. Kaderli suggested they should burn the house down after the killings, it states. Members of The Base also believe in an extreme form of survivalism and preparation, offering real-life survivalist training to resist the “extinction” of the Caucasian race, the FBI has said. The arrests show an intensified focus on the group from law enforcement officials who are concerned that the supremacists may go beyond plotting to violent acts, a threat made more urgent ahead of a pro-gun rally Monday in Richmond, Virginia. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • One person was killed and another seriously injured Friday morning after an avalanche covered a Tahoe ski resort. The avalanche occurred around 10:15 a.m. at Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows ski resort killing Cole Comstock, 34, and injuring another male who has not been identified, the Reno Gazette Journal reported. The injured man was taken to a hospital with severe lower-body injuries, the Gazette Journal reported. A search for other possible victims was called off around 11:45 a.m., officials said. A storm blanketed the area with two feet of snow Thursday, KCRA reported. The Sierra Avalanche Center issued a considerable danger avalanche warning for the area Friday morning. The resort indicated it conducted avalanche control around 8 a.m. along Alpine Meadows Road and that the resort was open. An avalanche at the resort in 1982 killed seven people.
  • A Texas woman who says her 5-year-old child was physically attacked on a school bus had to pay the school district to see the evidence. Audrey Billings told WFAA that her daughter complained about other students hurting her on the 45-minute bus ride home Nov. 11. The bus carries students from other schools, including older students, according to WFAA. Billings followed up with the Dallas Independent School District. She was given a verbal account of the bullying incident, but was told that she’d have to pay $600 to have the surveillance video from the school bus redacted, CNN reported. In the video that Billings paid for, the woman’s daughter is seen being attacked by up to three older students. The girl is pushed, grabbed and put in a choke-hold by the other students, WFAA reported. The girl calls out to the bus driver for assistance but is ignored, according to the video that Billings viewed. A Dallas Independent School District spokesperson told WFAA that the students involved in the bullying incident were disciplined and that the bus driver was moved to another route. But Billings doesn’t feel that the school district did enough to address the incident. She wants the bus driver fired, according to the WFAA report. She also wants the school district to overhaul its bullying policy. Billings said her daughter no longer rides the school bus.