July 15: On This Day In History

Sunday, July 14, was Bastille Day, the anniversary of the storming of Bastille prison and the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. You might think July 15, coming after a day of such celebration, might be a dud ... but it's not true! So many events happened in history on this date that 500 words cannot even begin to cover them.

First, a word about calendars and how July 15 (the month is named after Julius Caesar, as was the Julian calendar) in the Julian calendar isn’t necessarily July 15 in the Gregorian calendar. Ancient cultures reckoned time’s passage via the seasons: vernal equinox, summer solstice, autumnal equinox, winter solstice. Sometimes they dated events from something significant: the founding of Rome (the foundation of the Julian calendar), or the accession of a monarch, for example.

There are many calendars but the two that concern Western civilization are the Julian and the Gregorian. We switched from the former to the latter in 1582, to correct lapsing of equinoctial dates in the Julian calendar and to make the counting of leap years more accurate — by skipping ahead 15 days in one swoop.

First up is American history.

The History Channel website has a nice story about President Nixon’s announcement of his impending visit to Communist China, on July 15, 1971 – spotlighting the signal achievement of his administration.

Last year, on this date, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visited President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. Her motorcade was pelted with tomatoes and shoes.

In 2010, BP finally capped its leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, after 86 days.

In 1996, MS-NBC signed on the air.

In 1991, U.S. troops left Iraq — for the first time, at the end of Gulf War I.

In 1987, John Poindexter testified at the Iran/Contra hearings.

In 1982, the Senate confirmed George Schultz as the 60th secretary of state, 97 to 0.

In 1976, the 36-hour kidnapping of 26 school children and their bus driver began in California.

In 1975, Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 were both launched. They rendezvoused on July 17.

In 1968, commercial air travel began between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

Also, in 1968, the soap opera, One Life to Live premiered.

In 1965, Mariner IV sent back the first pictures of Mars.

In 1964, Senator Barry M. Goldwater was nominated for president at the Republican National Convention

In world history:

2012: Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the Palestinian Authority.

2011: Rebekah Brooks resigned from Newscorp International as a result of the phone hacking scandal.

1996: Prince Charles and Princess Diana signed divorce papers.

1994: Israel and Jordan agreed to peace talks in Washington, D.C.

1991: France performed a nuclear test at Muruora Island.

1987: State of siege ended in Taiwan.

1974: Military coup on Cyprus. Archbishop and President Makarios fled the country.

1967: The U.S.S.R. performed a nuclear test in East Kazakhstan.

1962: Algeria was admitted to the Arab League.

In sports and popular culture:

1996: Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripkin — after 2216 consecutive games — moved to third base and kept on playing.

1991: Sandhi Ortiz-DelValle became first woman to officiate a men's pro basketball (USBL) game.

1987: Boy George was barred from British television shows for being a bad influence.

1986: Boston pitcher Roger Clemens was voted MVP of the All-Star Game

1984: Yoko Ono released “I’m Stepping Out.”

1980: Linda Ronstadt debuted as “Mabel” in “Pirates of Penzance.”

1978: Bob Dylan performed for 200,000 fans at “The Picnic at Blackbushe.”

1963: Elvis Presley began filming “Viva Las Vegas.”