Back in 1965, fifty years ago, the brilliant music satirist Tom Lehrer, in the introduction to So Long Mom, a song of World War III, said this: “This year we’ve been celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Civil War and the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of World War I and the twentieth anniversary of the end of World War II. All in all, it’s been a good year for the war buffs.” (With a different intro, LISTEN to So Long Mom.)
This being a half-century later, we just “celebrated” the beginning of World War I. 2015 will be the sesquicentennial of the end of the American Civil War in 1865, with all that entails:
January: The U.S. Congress approves the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, to abolish slavery.
March: Second inauguration ceremonies for President Lincoln in Washington.
April: Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia.
Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary see the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater. During the third act of the play, John Wilkes Booth assassinates the President.
June: Juneteeth in Texas.
Likewise, this will be the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in 1945:
January: The Soviets enacts a massive offensive against German foes along the East Front. Russian troops find fewer than 3,000 survivors when they liberate Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland.
February: U.S. troops invade the Philippines, while British planes bomb the German city of Dresden.
April: US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies. Adolf Hitler, in the face of certain defeat, commits suicide.
May: Germany surrenders unconditionally to General Eisenhower at Rheims, France, and to the Soviets in Berlin
June: The Pacific island of Okinawa is captured by the Allies.
August: The Japanese sue for peace after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
September: General MacArthur accepts the formal, unconditional surrender of Japan in a ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
So what else shall we celebrate this coming year?
April: Josephine Baker’s death (40th anniversary)
May: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s death. (150th anniversary)
June: Signing of the first Magna Carta. (800th anniversary)
June: Battle of Waterloo. (200th anniversary)
June: William Butler Yeats’ 150th birthday.
July: JK Rowling’s 50th birthday
August: Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans and surrounding areas (10th anniversary)
December: Rudyard Kipling’s 150th birthday.
What will YOU be celebrating in 2015?