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Real Answers™
ga74
Copyright: © 2009 Greg Asimakoupoulos
650 words

A DATE THAT LIVES IN INFAMY

By: Greg Asimakoupoulos

There are just two days on the calendar whose mere date convey their unique significance. One is July 4th. The other is today, April 15th. I find no little irony in this fact. The first date celebrates a hard fought freedom from a tax-hungry king in England. The second signifies the undeniable reality that freedom is not free and that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness still includes taxation. According to Ben Franklin, the only certainties we have in life are death and taxes.

Speaking of death and taxes…  Long before April 15th became known as tax day in 1955, that midpoint mark in the fourth month of the year was a tragic milestone in our nation’s history. It was in the early hours of Monday, April 15, 1912 that the Titanic sank.

The sad news, telegraphed around the world, was both devastating and surprising.  The Titanic was three football fields long, eleven stories tall and ninety-two feet wide. Having taken three years to construct at a cost of $7.5 million, it weighed an astonishing 46,000 tons.  The pride of the White Star British Lines was appropriately named.

With sixteen watertight compartments below sea level, the ship’s captain had arrogantly claimed that not even God could sink the Titanic. The wealthy and influential passengers in first class didn’t give a second thought to their safety. As the ship steamed toward New York City, those aboard the maiden voyage of the world’s largest ship had no idea what they were about to encounter.

Late Sunday night, April 14th, the ship’s crew disregarded a warning from a nearby vessel and the Titanic collided with a massive iceberg. In just a few short hours, 1,522 of passengers and crew perished in the open sea 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland. Only 706 people survived.

For years to come, April 15th would signify the fragility of life for the families of those passengers who never reached their intended destination in spite of being assured they had nothing to fear.

Curiously, half century before the Titanic disaster, another unexpected tragedy occurred on that same date. It was the day before Easter, April 15, 1865, when our sixteenth President succumbed to a gunshot wound he’d received hours earlier on a not-so-Good Friday evening.

After a bloody civil war that had ended only days earlier, the bruised psyche of our nation was once again taxed. A fifty-six year old Abraham Lincoln had just been re-elected and was enjoying unprecedented popularity. But dreams collided with an iceberg-like nightmare. For decades to come, April 15th would be a costly reminder that prosperity is only temporary and success is fleeting.

For the days following Easter that year, Americans grieved the death of their commander-in-chief. Many were comforted by the hymn lyrics they’d sung in church the previous Sunday. Lyrics that affirmed how Christ’s resurrection calibrates the way we look at loss.

Countless Christians the world over (myself included) have just celebrated their first Easter since closing the casket lid on a loved one. While grateful for the hope such a holiday promises, they are painfully aware of the crosses we all must bear. They reminded of how brief life is, how easily it can be interrupted and what constitutes true wealth.

Yes, April 15th remains a reminder that both death and taxes are unavoidable. There’s no changing that fact. But, we can change the way we compute our blessings, brace ourselves to be blind-sided by setbacks and embrace the life we have left. Although my tax accountant can’t help me with that calculation, I’ve filed for an extension recognizing I’m the same age Lincoln was when he died.

But in the event an extension isn't granted, I'd do well to take my cues from Moses. In Psalm 90 he prayed, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12 NIV)

 

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; amyfoundtn@aol.com

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