By: Matthew H. Fry, Esquire
The Ides of March, or March 15, originated from the early Romans. The Romans did not number days of a month sequentially from the first through the last day. Instead, they counted back from three fixed points of the month: the Nones (5th or 7th, depending on the length of the month), the Ides (13th or 15th), and the Kalends (1st of the following month). The Ides occurred near the midpoint, on the 13th for most months, but on the 15th for March, May, July, and October.
The “Ides of March” was made famous by William Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar, when the seer tells Caesar to “beware the ides of March,” which became the day of his assassination. However, in addition to the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., there have been other major historical events in history on this date:
- Samoan Cyclone, 1889
A cyclone destroys six warships, three U.S., three German, in the harbor at Apia, Samoa, leaving more than 200 sailors dead. While this event is certainly tragic, the destruction of these ships may have prevented a war, as the ships represented each nation’s show of force in a competition to see who would annex the Samoan islands.
- Czar Nicholas II Abdicates His Throne, 1917
Russian Czar Nicholas II signs his abdication papers, ending a 304-year-old royal dynasty and ushering in Bolshevik rule. He and his family are taken captive and, in July 1918, executed before a firing squad.
- Germany Occupies Czechoslovakia, 1939
Just six months after Czechoslovak leaders ceded the Sudetenland, Nazi troops seize the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, effectively wiping Czechoslovakia off the map.
- A Deadly Blizzard on the Great Plains, 1941
A fast-moving and severe blizzard hits North Dakota and Minnesota, killing 151 people. The people of North Dakota and northern Minnesota had nearly no warning of the blizzard that swept in suddenly from the west on March 15. In some locations, temperatures dropped 20 degrees in less than 15 minutes. Fifty-mile-per-hour sustained winds (with gusts reaching 85 mph in Grand Forks and 75 mph in Duluth) brought blinding snow and huge 7-foot-high snow drifts across the states. Weather forecasting and reporting made important advances following this disaster that would have prevented the loss of life that occurred due to the sudden storm.
- World Record Rainfall, 1952
Rain falls on the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion kept falling on this date, hard enough to register the world’s most voluminous 24-hour rainfall of 73.62 inches.
- CBS Cancels the “Ed Sullivan Show,” 1971
A generation mourns when word leaks that CBS-TV is canceling “The Ed Sullivan Show” after 23 years on the network, which had also dumped Red Skelton and Jackie Gleason in the preceding month.
- A New Global Health Scare, 2003
The World Health Organization issues a heightened global health alert after accumulating reports of a mysterious respiratory disease afflicting patients and healthcare workers in China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada. The disease will soon become famous under the acronym SARS (for Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
While we do not expect any such tragedies to befall us this March 15th, it is, after all, the beginning of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament, the results of which could bring jubilation to some, and heartbreak to others.
The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP is a full-service law firm in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We strive to help people, businesses and institutions throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania solve legal problems – and even prevent legal problems before they occur. To learn more about the full range of our specific practice areas, please visit www.dioriosereni.com or contact Matthew Fry, Esquire at 610-565-5700 or at [email protected].