News, Events, Birthdays, History - April 16 - April 22


Wilbur Wright - April 16, 1867 Wilbur Wright
In this age of jumbo jets and space shuttles, it's sometimes hard to believe that just over a century ago, the only things in the air were birds. They were called crackpots by government bureaucrats, and their achievements were doubted and sometimes ridiculed, but Wilbur - along with his younger brother Orville, are generally credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903.

Thornton Wilder - April 17, 1897
A Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and novelist, Wilder's best-known work is the play "Our Town".  Speaking of the frustration often felt by many in his profession, Wilder said..."An incinerator is a writer's best friend".

Queen Elizabeth II - April 21, 1926
The queen was crowned in 1952 at the age of 26, and reigns over 16 independent states known as the Commonwealth realms.  In theory her powers are vast; however, in practice, and in accordance with convention, she rarely intervenes in political matters.

Jack Nicholson - April 22, 1936
A successful and famed actor, Nicholson has won Oscars for many films, including "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Terms of Endearment".


This was a rough week in American history....earthquakes, bombings, fires and battles.  It wasn't the best week for the Red Baron, either...

April 17, 1961 - Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion  was an unsuccessful attempt by a U.S.-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba with support from U.S. government armed forces to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro.   The invasion  was planned and funded by the United States government and was launched less than three months after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency in the United States.
The Cuban armed forces, trained and equipped by Eastern Bloc nations, defeated the invading force in three days and the event accelerated a rapid deterioration in Cuban-American relations. This was exacerbated the following year by the Cuban Missile Crisis.

April 18, 1906 - San Francisco Earthquake
The entire business district of San Francisco would be destroyed by this quake and the fires that it triggered, and over 4,000 lives would be lost.

April 18, 1775 - Paul Revere's Ride
On the evening of April 18th, Paul Revere waited for a signal from the steeple of the Old North Church in Boston - one lamp if the British were approaching by land, two lamps if by sea.    The British had been stationed in Boston for months amid rumors that the colonists were amassing arms and ammunition to use against them.  They learned of a large cache of weapons stored in Concord, Mass, and on this evening, they set out to capture and destroy those weapons.  Thanks to Revere and a very alert and prepared citizenry, their march was anything but a surprise. 
What you may not know is that Revere was actually captured by the British during this ride, and that he was not alone - two other patriots rode with him and helped spread the word.
In the early morning hours of the next day on the green lawns of Lexington, Massachusetts, the first shots Lexington, Massachusettsof the Revolutionary war would be heard...and before the day was out, the British would suffer a humiliating defeat  (see the Battles of Lexington and Concord entry below).

April 19, 1775 - Battles of Lexington and Concord
In the early morning hours of this day in Lexington, Massachusetts, a group of militiamen were assembled on the village green.  Their intent was to confront British troops that were enroute to Concord to capture and destroy colonial weapons.  When the "redcoats" arrived, their leaders order the colonists to disperse, and they began to do just that...when someone fired a shot.  It's uncertain whether the shot was accidental or on purpose, but it would later be referred to (by Ralph Waldo Emerson) as "the shot heard round the world", and recognized as the start of the American Revolutionary war.

The British continued on to Concord, but most of the arms and ammunition had been hidden away, and on their return to Boston they suffered heavy casualties inflicted by a growing number of colonial 'minutemen'.

April 19, 1993 - Branch Davidian Fire at Waco, Texas
Law enforcement officials stormed the compound of a religious cult, and in the ensuing fire - ignited by the inhabitants of the compound - 86 people would lose their lives, including the cult's leader, David Koresh.

April 19, 1995 - Oklahoma City Bombing
Timothy McVeigh triggered a car bomb outside of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killing 168 people, including 19 children in a day care center.

April 21, 1918 - Red Baron Shot Down
Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen, Red Baron's TriPlanea.k.a. 'The Red Baron', was a German fighter pilot and the most successful flying ace of World War I.  He was shot during an aerial dogfight on this day, and though he managed to land his red Fokker triplane, he died shortly thereafter.    An eyewitness reported that his last word was...."kaputt".