On this day in history, my Mom got a surprise – baby number 5 -me. Actually, she got the surprise many months before when she learned I was coming. She had given birth to four daughters and figured her time of childbearing was done since it had been six years since the last one. But then the doctor said, wait, there’s one more. I was a pleasant surprise and welcomed with open arms and now on this day I give my sisters more cause for surprise – “how did little Bobby get to be that old?”
My birth was not the only thing that happened on this date, nor the only birth recorded. In 1793 the Committee of Public Safety – what a misnomer -became the executive organ of the French Revolution. John Jacob Astor began his rise to becoming the first millionaire by incorporating the American Fur Company in 1808. The first modern Olympic Games was opened in Athens in 1896, 1500 years after they had been banned by the Roman emperor Theodosius I. And Robert Peary and Matthew Henson became the first explorers to reach the North Pole in 1909.
On the same date in 1917, the US declared war on Germany, getting into WWI over two years late, in 1973 the American League adopted the designated hitter rule, in 1965 the first commercial satellite was put into geosynchronous orbit, and in 1947 the first Tony Awards were given out for excellence in theater performances.
There were two airplane manufacturers born on this date: Dutch engineer and businessman Anthony Fokker (1890), who founded Fokker Aircraft, and American businessman Donald Willis Douglas Sr(1892) who founded the Douglas Aircraft Company. It was also the birth of American biologist and geneticist James Watson (1928) who co-discovered the DNA double helix, creative American pianist, composer, and conductor Andre Previn, as well as the destructive Northern Irish religious politician Ian Paisley (1926).
There were quite a number of actors and actresses born on this date as well: Billy Dee Williams (1937, Lando Calrissian of Star Wars fame); Roy Thinnes (1938, Invaders); Marilu Henner (Taxi); and singer-songwriter Merle Haggard, who was born on April 6th in 1937 and died on Apri 6th in 2016.
Along with Merle Haggard, we lost the German painter, engraver, and mathematician (what a combination, 1528); three musical geniuses Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (1971) and blues singer Ray Charles (2015), and country crooner Tammy Wynette (1998); and the great sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov (1992).
This day is recognized as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, the Tartan Day (in Scotland and the US), and in Australia, it is Waltzing Matilda Day.