The Ides of April

April 15 is the anniversary of three events with far-reaching consequences in American history. On this day-

  • Two men were murdered in South Braintree, MA in 1920, murders for which the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tried, convicted, and executed Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti against a backdrop of anti-immigrant hostility,
  • Jackie Robinson played his first major league baseball game in 1947, and
  • Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in 1955.

Think of April 15 the next time you masticate a Big Mac and argue whether the U.S. should erect a fence across the Mexican border while on the TV David Ortiz drives in another run.

Oh, and federal income taxes are due today. Since it is Sunday and post offices are closed all U.S. taxpayers get an extension until tomorrow. Since tomorrow is Patriots’ Day, a Massachusetts state holiday–you know, “one if by land,” Paul Revere’s ride, Concord and Lexington, the shot heard ’round the world–we get an extra day’s extension.


The post above reflects my Massachusetts-centrism. All taxpayers, not just Massachusetts taxpayers, have until April 17th to file tax returns this year. Tomorrow the District of Columbia celebrates Emancipation Day, commemorating the official end of slavery in the U.S. That celebration pushes back the filing deadline for the entire country by one day.

Speaking of pushing back deadlines, a research and writing assignment for one of my classes was originally due on Tuesday, a due date a student described “cruel and unusual punishment” because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on Monday. It’s not that Boston University students are especially patriotic. The paper deadline bumped up against day-long revels whose ostensible purpose is cheering on runners in the Boston Marathon, held every year on Patriots’ Day. Acknowledging that there was no pedagogical purpose behind the original due date I pushed it back to Thursday, to applause and cheers.  It may be the moment they remember most about this class.

4 Replies to “The Ides of April”

  1. jtran3

    Born and raised in Massachusetts, I have learned and experienced the great history this state has. This state happens to have a many historical events that can’t be overlooked. I believe other states should celebrate holidays that have significant meaning to them because history should not be forgotten. I’m sure when these holidays were decided, no one really expected to have deadlines be pushed back. It just happens.

    On another note, it’s a shame to hear some sportswriters saying that Jackie Robinson would be turning over his grave if he saw the game of baseball today. Over the last decades, the number of African-American ball players have significantly decreased due to the increased popularity of other sports (basketball and football mainly) towards African Americans. I hope this trend is not permanent.

  2. student330

    I think that it is pretty cool to have a specific holiday for a state. Since the District of Columbia has its own holiday on the same date (Emancipation Day), there is even more reason to celebrate. Every state could potentially make up a specific holiday for April 16th. Connecticut could have a Constitution Day and California could have a Gold Rush day. As long as things don’t get out of hand, every state should have the right to foster a little community spirit. Massachusetts does this pretty well. The marathon this Monday really added to my sense of belonging to a distinct community here. Living in Boston to watch four marathons will thus definitely be something I brag to my kids about when I’m older. – I’m still nineteen years old, and I can’t believe I’m thinking about kids and bragging rights already! Still, I know that this will certainly be something I tell to my three wives in the future.

  3. afm

    I’ve never seen a state celebrate as many holidays as Massachusetts. Patriot’s Day, Columbus Day… It’s one thing to take pride in your past, it’s another to declare every historical event involving your state a holiday. I can promise you we didn’t have a ‘Louisiana Purchase Day’ in Iowa.

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