History in April

By Abby Beddow

April showers bring May flowers, but did you know April also has much more history than many people realize? The history of April is filled with tragedy and pivotal moments that may surprise you.

It was the year 1865, and the date was April 9. General Robert E. Lee officially surrendered the Confederate Army to General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union. This marked the end of the American Civil War, which had taken over 500,000 American deaths and is the last war fought on American soil to this day.

Let’s fast-forward five days later to April 14 of the same year. The president at the time, Abraham Lincoln was shot by a southern leader named John Wilkes Booth while watching the play Our American Cousin. Abraham Lincoln died the next morning at 7:22 am.

Now onto the 20th century. In the year 1912, in the early morning of April 15 at 2:27 a.m., the icy water off the coast of Newfoundland claimed the lives of 1,500 people as the luxury ship the Titanic struck an iceberg. The survivors were later rescued by the Carpathia about two hours later.

As the years progress, we come into the height of the racial equality movement of the 1960’s. One specific day marks a significant tragedy for this development. April 4, 1968, when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. He was shot and killed by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a strong leader for civil rights and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. His actions helped pave a pathway for civil and voting rights for everyone in America.

In the year of 1970 on April 11 at 2:13 p.m. the infamous space shuttle Apollo 13 was launched off of Cape Kennedy. Just fifty six hours into their flight, an oxygen tank exploded. Astronaut John L. Swigert was the first to call back to earth and said the famous line “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” The entire crew transferred into the lunar module and made a hazardous journey back to earth, never making it to their intended destination of the moon.

History is full of joys, sorrows, and adventures. This was only been a taste of what has already happened in the month of April. Although tragedy has filled April over the centuries, humanity also has a history of perseverance in adversity.