Last Wednesday Joe wrote about events he liked in April, mentioning warmer weather and the start of baseball season. My post is about April too; we thought it would be interesting for us to both write about the month in one week. To me, April is a mixed bag of bad and good.
The saying goes that April showers bring May flowers and every year it is borne out that it rains a lot in April. The weather alternates between cold, warm, hot, and cold again. Last week we had a few days where it was warm enough not to need a coat, and then this week it went below freezing again. It is the true transition from winter to spring.
It is also the month when taxes are due in the United States, usually on April 15th. This is a good day if you filed before that date or if you receive a refund, but it is a bad day if you owe money to either the federal government, your state, or your local area.
To me, this month also means the Ides of April, a term I started using in the 1990s. I know that traditionally it is the Ides of March, which was the day Julius Caesar was killed, and was used in a Shakespeare play. I know that it was a bad omen; a cursed time. And that is April. A lot of bad events have happened in this month.
In 1912, the Titanic sank, as most of the world knows. It hit an iceberg on April 14 and finished sinking early in the morning of April 15. Over 1,500 people died in the freezing water or trapped on board, and we still remember the day over a hundred years later.
On April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was bombed, killing 168 people, including 19 children, and injured many others. On the site of the building is now standing the memorial to all those killed and all the survivors. The murderer said that he did it in revenge for the deaths on April 19, 1993 in Waco, Texas. On that day, agents of the F.B.I. sent tear gas into the home of a religious group in an attempt to force them out, after a long stand-off. At some point after that a fire started, and the house burned down, killing 76 people, including children.
On April 20, 1999, the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado killed 13 people and injured 23 more. The murderers said in materials before that day that they chose the date because it was Hitler’s birthday. There were a lot of school shootings around the country in that ten-year period, but this was the worst one. Until on April 16, 2007, at Virginia Tech University, when 32 people were killed by a student.
Now, we have the Boston Marathon bombing last year, on April 15, where 3 people were killed and hundreds were injured. Many of the injured are missing limbs because of the metal put into the two bombs.
An example of the Ides of April from central Pennsylvania is the mysterious disappearance of District Attorney Ray Gricar on April 15, 2005. He took a personal day, talked to a couple of people by phone, and then never returned home. His car was found parked by some shops in a nearby town, and pieces of his laptop were later found in a river. The police followed up on a few sightings and tips, but no one knows what happened to him. He was declared legally dead on July 25, 2011. Was he killed? Did he leave his family, job and former life on purpose? Did he commit suicide? Your guess is as good as mine.
Beware the Ides of April.
It is easy to find disasters through history in this month. What I want to remember is that I would find a lot of disasters in any month, if I looked. I just keep track of the ones in April, because I feel some interest in them, some emotional stake. I remember in 1993 watching a soap opera with my mom, when the network broke in with the news of the fire at Waco. We watched on live TV as the huge house burned to the ground, and we were horrified. In 1995, my father and I were traveling back from Kansas when the Oklahoma City bombing happened, and we didn’t learn about the attack until we got to a motel for the night. Maybe that is what got me fixated on April.
I also know that good things happen in this month. I always think of Easter as being an April holiday. It was April of 2002 that I met Darren, who is now my husband, and we first exchanged phone numbers. And one of my relatives who lives in this area has a birthday in this month, which makes April glorious. I am so blessed to have both of these people in my life, and they have always outshone any tragedy the month carries.
Long live April.