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HUCKABY: Another ho-hum day, or a landmark in history?

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

Every day starts pretty much the same. The sun comes up. The vast majority of people grumble a bit, then roll out of bed -- stumble to the bathroom for a bit of early morning relief -- and then make their way to the kitchen for that first cup of coffee -- or, in the case of my cousin Kris, that first Diet Coke. It is pretty universal, at least in this country -- give or take the occasional outlier, like me, who jumps out of bed before the sun whistling "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah."

OK. I used to jump out of bed before the sun whistling "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." Nowadays I turn in at 9 p.m. and am still in the arms of Morpheus at 9 a.m. if the alarm on my iPhone hasn't jolted me awake -- but I digress.

My point this morning, and I do have a point this morning, is that after their 24 hours have been allotted, most days are just days. A week later, no one remarks on how special Sept. 12, for instance, had been. Three hundred and sixty-five days later nobody says -- well, on this day a year ago such-and-such happened -- and certainly, 150 years later people don't pause and say "this day lives in infamy," as is the case with Dec. 7, say.

There are a few days like that, however, in every lifetime. For my parent's generation the aforementioned Pearl Harbor Day was first and foremost among those days. Those around my age will never forget Nov. 22, 1963, or Sept. 11, 2001.

The thing that separates normal ho-hums from days that live forever, of course, is the fact that on certain days monumental events take place -- and the middle of April is packed full of such days. "On the eighteenth of April, in '75, hardly now is there a man arrive, who remembers that famous date and year:" (of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.)

April 19. "By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April's breeze unfurled, here the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world."

On April 12, 1861, cadets from the Citadel, according to legend and Will Coleman, fired the first shots upon Fort Sumter, thus beginning the greatest tragedy in our nation's history. More than 665,000 Americans would die over the next four years in the War Between the States -- more than all our other wars combined.

On April 9, 1865 -- almost four years to the day later -- Robert E. Lee would surrender what was left of his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant, virtually ending that awful war.

On April 12, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died at Warm Springs, and the eyes of the whole world were suddenly on a small village in southwest Georgia. World War II was still raging on two continents and Vice President Harry Truman remarked, "I feel like somebody just dumped a whole barn full of hay right on top of me."

Now I told you all of that to tell you this. Take a glance at the top of the page. April 14. That's today, of course. There have been several times when, for whatever cosmic reasons, folks woke up on this particular day in history expecting just another ho-hum day, only to have monumental events take place before the sun went down.

Some of the not so monumental events of the day, but noteworthy nonetheless, occurred in 1828 and 1860 respectively. On the former date, Noah Webster released the first copy of the Dictionary of American English. "Honour" would be spelled "honor" forevermore and our last great break from Mother England would be complete. On the latter date the first Pony Express rider delivered a mail pouch to San Francisco, Calif. Only took him 11 days to get there from St. Joseph, Mo. That sounds about right in 2013, too.

On April 14, 1865 Abraham Lincoln died. The last best chance for a relatively peaceful reconstruction of the Union died with him. Lincoln's plan had been to reunite the severed states "with malice toward none, with charity for all." Instead we were left with harsh, radical reconstruction, which left scars that are barely yet scabbed over.

And in 1912 the Titanic hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage, which would cause her to sink into the cold waters of the North Atlantic the following morning, causing the deaths of 1,502 souls on board.

So what will be the legacy of April 14, 2013? Will be one of those days, about which we can say, "On this day in history, absolutely nothing of significance happened?" Perhaps we will be marginally excited because this will be the day that Eldridge Tont Woods increased the size of his wardrobe by one green jacket. Perhaps this will be the day that Kim Jong Un starts World War III by launching a nuclear missile toward American territory.

Perhaps it will be the day that Americans all across the nation decide to get up, go to church and begin to reclaim this land as one nation, under God.

That's the beauty of life. No one knows what each day will bring. We do know that all of ours are numbered, so we had better make the most of them.

As for me -- I will spend this day in Augusta, pulling for Eldridge. Don't judge me. He's the best there has ever been at what he does.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck008@gmail.com.