The Thing About Today – April 6

April 6, 2020
Day 97 of 366


April 6th is the ninety-seventh day of the year. It is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), an annual celebration of the power of sport to drive social change, community development and to foster peace and understanding. The date was chosen to commemorate the inauguration of the first Olympic Games of the modern era, which took place in Athens, Greece in 1896.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Caramel Popcorn Day, New Beer’s Eve, National Sorry Charlie Day, National Student-Athlete Day, National Tartan Day, and National Teflon Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1320, the Scots reaffirmed their independence by signing the Declaration of Arbroath.
  • In 1652, Dutch sailor Jan van Riebeeck established a resupply camp at the Cape of Good Hope. It eventually became Cape Town.
  • In 1712, the New York Slave Revolt began near Broadway.
  • In 1808, John Jacob Astor incorporated the American Fur Company. The company would eventually make him America’s first millionaire.
  • In 1861, the first performance of Arthur Sullivan’s incidental music for The Tempest debuted. It was a success, and led to a career that included the famous Gilbert and Sullivan operas.
  • In 1869, celluloid was patented.
  • In 1889, George Eastman began selling his Kodak flexible rolled film for the first time.
  • In 1895, Oscar Wilde was arrested in the Cadogan Hotel in London after losing a libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry.
  • In 1896, the first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece. This was 1,500 years after the original games were banned by Roman emperor Theodosius I.
  • In 1917, the United States declared war on Germany in World War I.
  • In 1929, film composer and pianist André Previn was born.
  • In 1937, actor Billy Dee Williams was born.
  • In 1947, the first Tony Awards were presented for theatrical achievement.
  • Also in 1947, actor and director John Ratzenberger was born.
  • In 1953, Scottish composer Patrick Doyle was born.
  • In 1965, Early Bird was launched. It was the first commercial communications satellite to be placed in geosynchronous orbit.
  • In 1969, actor Paul Rudd was born.
  • In 1973, the Pioneer 11 spacecraft was launched.
  • In 1974, the Swedish pop band ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Waterloo”. This moment launched their international career.
  • In 1975, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Zach Braff was born.
  • In 2009, the Star Trek reboot film directed by J. J. Abrams premiered in Austin, Texas.


The Declaration of Arbroath – Declaration o Aiberbrothock in Scots, Declaratio Arbroathis in Latin, and Tiomnadh Bhruis in Scottish Gaelic – was the declaration of Scottish independence on April 6, 1320.

It was sent in the form of a letter in Latin to Pope John XXII to confirm Scotland’s status as an independent, sovereign state and defending Scotland’s right to use military action when unjustly attacked. Generally believed to have been written in the Arbroath Abbey by Bernard of Kilwinning, then Chancellor of Scotland and Abbot of Arbroath, and sealed by fifty-one magnates and nobles, the letter is the sole survivor of three created at the time.

The others were a letter from the King of Scots, Robert I, and a letter from four Scottish bishops which all made similar points.

National Tartan Day is a North American celebration of Scottish heritage, set on the date upon which the Declaration of Arbroath was signed. It originated in Canada in the mid-1980s. It spread to other communities of the Scottish diaspora in the 1990s.

This year Scots would be celebrating the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath with events of various kinds, but the COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in multiple cancellations.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.




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