April 18, 2020
Day 109 of 366
April 18th is the 109th day of the year. It is Zimbabwe’s Independence Day, commemorating their independence from the United Kingdom in 1980.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Animal Crackers Day, National Columnists’ Day, National Lineman Appreciation Day, National Auctioneers Day, and National Record Store Day. National Auctioneers Day is normally observed on the third Saturday in April. National Record Store Day changes annually.
Historical items of note:
- In 1506, the cornerstone of the current St. Peter’s Basilica was laid.
- In 1775, the British advancement by sea began in the American Revolutionary War. Paul Revere and other riders warned the countryside of the troop movements.
- In 1882, English conductor Leopold Stokowski was born.
- In 1897, the Greco-Turkish War was declared between Greece and the Ottoman Empire.
- In 1909, Joan of Arc was beatified in Rome.
- In 1912, the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia arrived in New York City with the 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic.
- In 1930, it was a slow news day. So slow, in fact, that the BBC news announcer stated “there is no news” at the start of the 20:45 news bulletin and played music instead.
- In 1946, the International Court of Justice held its inaugural meeting in The Hague, Netherlands.
- Also in 1946, actress Hayley Mills was born.
- In 1953, actor and comedian Rick Moranis was born.
- In 1956, Eric Roberts was born. He portrayed the Master in the 1996 Doctor Who television movie.
- In 1961, actress Jane Leeves was born.
- In 1967, actress Maria Bello was born.
- In 1969, writer, musician, and all-around good dude Keith R. A. DeCandido was born.
- In 1971, David Tennant was born. Among many other roles, he was the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who.
- In 1976, actress Melissa Joan Hart was born.
In 1949, the keel for the aircraft carrier USS United States (CVA-58) was laid down at Newport News Drydock and Shipbuilding in Virginia. Construction was canceled five days later, resulting in the Revolt of the Admirals.
The United States was slated to be the lead ship of a new design of “supercarriers” as authorized on July 29, 1948, by President Harry Truman. Five ships were planned in the line of ships designed to support combat missions using the new jet aircraft, which were faster, larger, and significantly heavier than the aircraft the Essex and Midway-class carriers handled at the end of World War II. The carrier was designed to be “flush decked”, which meant no command island on the flat top deck.
The ship design was so versatile that the United States Air Force actually saw it as a threat to its strategic nuclear weapons delivery monopoly. Looking to cut the military budget, Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson accepted the Air Force’s argument about nuclear deterrence by means of large, long-range bombers and canceled the United States project five days after the keel was laid without consulting Congress.
Secretary of the Navy John Sullivan and a number of high-ranking admirals immediately resigned in protest. The United States Congress held an inquiry into Johnson’s decision, but during this “Revolt of the Admirals”, the Navy was unable to advance its case that large carriers would be essential to national defense.
Soon afterward, Johnson and Francis P. Matthews, the man he advanced to be the new Secretary of the Navy, set to punishing officers who publicly opposed them. Admiral Louis Denfeld was forced to resign as Chief of Naval Operations, and a number of other admirals and lesser ranks were punished.
The invasion of South Korea six months later resulted in an immediate need for a strong naval presence, and Matthews’ position as Secretary of the Navy and Johnson’s position as Secretary of Defense crumbled. They both resigned.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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