April 15 is a date that sticks out in the minds of many as tax day, the deadline for United States federal taxes to be filed. While Americans rush to the tax finish line (or trudge or plod, as the case may be), April 15 is also the anniversary of two momentous events in history: the heartbreaking loss of a great president and the sinking of a luxury vessel in a tragedy that’s become the stuff of legend.
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln actually took place on the evening of April 14, 1865. A night at the theater turned tragic for Lincoln, his family, and a country just emerging from the cloud of a terrible war. While there’s no need to rehash the well-known events of that night, one can only imagine the despair that cloaked this country on the morning of April 15, when word began to spread that the President had succumbed to his assassin’s bullet. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln depicts the sad events of that night with a sense of dignity, a scene all the more touching for its restraint.
The sinking of the Titanic took place not long after midnight on April 15, 1912. After colliding with an iceberg before midnight on April 14, the ship went down in the darkness of cold North Atlantic waters. More than 1500 people perished in one of the greatest tragedies of modern times. The James Cameron film Titanic is perhaps the most visually striking depiction of the sinking, though it gives only passing attention to the factors that made the tragedy even worse than it needed to be, such as a lack of lifeboat drills and lifeboats that were launched before being filled to capacity. The sinking of the Titanic is also depicted in the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the story of a true life rags-to-riches heroine who not only survived the sinking of the ship, but assisted others in boarding the lifeboats and urged the crew of the lifeboat she eventually boarded to search for survivors. The tales of heroism, arrogance, survival and loss surrounding the Titanic continue to fascinate readers and audiences alike.
As a lover of history and historical fiction, I’m always looking for books and films that will draw me into events such as these. What are your favorite books (non-fiction as well as fiction) and films that depict the tragic events of April 15 in history? Leave a comment for a chance to win this week’s prize, a $5 Amazon gift card. A winner will be selected at random from those who leave comments on this week’s (April 15 – 20) posts on Sunday, April 21. Please check back on Monday, April 22 to see if you’re the winner.