On August 15

With so many days having slipped through our collective fingers, it’s easy to let some fall by the wayside and out of memory. Particular days are more important in some cultures than others, and we’re often too wrapped up in our own worlds to expand our historical knowledge. Though we cannot walk you through every moment of every iteration of this day in history, we can break down some of the most influential versions of August 15th, and shed light on the ways this day’s events have shaped our modern world.

Famous Events on This Day in History

On August 15, 1947 India gained its independence from Britain. This, in turn, means that Pakistan gained independence on the same day, as the two countries had heretofore been one unit under British rule. British colonialism in this part of the world had been a long standing tradition that took decades to shake off, but Indians fought for their independence without ever taking up arms or demanding a violent revolution. 

The Indian independence movement began all the way back in the 1920s, when Mahatma Gandhi inspired Indians to call for greater civil rights through non-violent means. Though Gandhi was certainly the de facto leader of the independence movement, plenty of other activists moved to the forefront as well, encouraging better conditions for lower castes. In the sense that they influenced through peaceful inspiration rather than encouraging violence, the Indian independence leaders mirror other great civil rights icons from around the world, maybe even influencing some. 

In 1942, when Britain was in the throes of World War II, they agreed to grant India its independence when the war was over. When this finally happened in 1947, it marked the end of almost 200 years of official British rule in India. Britain decided that a line should be drawn through the territory to allow for religious separation, and although this proved useful in some ways, it also sparked issues. Though the fallout of independence was messy between India and Pakistan, the fledgeling countries eventually found their strides following mass migrations and conflict. 

Like many countries, India celebrates its independence each year on August 15th with a great show of patriotism, particularly in Delhi. The day’s celebrations are marked by parades, pageants, kite flying, and national addresses. No matter how they choose to celebrate, it’s clear that this day in that age will hold a special place in Indian hearts forever. 

Some Other Major Events That Occurred on This Day:

  • On August 15, 1914 one of famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses was set ablaze by a handyman; Wright’s mistress and her two children were killed in the attack. The handyman was later found in the basement of the house, having poisoned himself. To this day, the reason for the attack is unknown, and will likely remain a mystery forever. 
  • In 1969 on this day, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair opened to the masses in upstate New York. Simply known as Woodstock to most, the music festival became an iconic event, emblematic of the 1960s and of the mounting anti-establishment movement in the United States. More than 400,000 people attended Woodstock, which was held on a 600 acre farm. Those attendees took the Woodstock experience home with them, hoping to affect change in some positive manner. 
  • The U.S. ended its military involvement in Vietnam on this day in 1973. This end came about following the Case-Church Amendment, which was passed by Congress the same year, and set August 15th as the deadline for the U.S. military to withdraw from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. In accordance with that deadline, August 15th marked the official end of one of America’s most controversial wars. 

Famous Birthdays on August 15th 

1769: Napoleon Bonaparte 

Napoleon Bonaparte

The famed French military leader and emperor was born August 15th, 1769. Napoleon was a conqueror with a shrewd mind for military, so he rose quickly through the French ranks during the revolution, which took place throughout his 20s. Following a 1799 coup d’etat wherein Napoleon seized political power, he crowned himself emperor in 1804. This glory was somewhat short lived, though. By a mere 11 years later, Napoleon had abdicated his throne and been exiled—twice. 

1912: Julia Child

The incomparable Julia Child was born in Pasadena, California on this day in 1912. Though she is famous for bringing the art of French cuisine into the average American home, she did not become immersed in the culinary arts until she was nearly 40 years old and living in Paris with her husband. Child had already written best-selling cookbooks when she began hosting a cooking show on Boston Public Television in 1961, and went on to write several more throughout her tenure as a culinary icon. The French Chef became famous for her unique character and fun-loving attitude toward cooking, never seeming ruffled even after a mistake.

1972: Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck

Born in Berkeley, California on August 15th, 1972, Ben Affleck has achieved a level of stardom in Hollywood that most don’t even dare dream about. Acclaimed by both critics and the masses, Afleck began acting at the tender age of 12 and has taken part in such lauded productions as Dazed and Confused, Good Will Hunting, and Argo, among many others. Well-documented battles with addiction have done little to tarnish the reputation of this titan in the film industry. 

As the sand in the hourglass continually trickles down, there are bound to be many more showings of August 15th, with many more important cultural, artistic, and political events housed in the date’s hours. While we should always look to the future, we must not forget the past; ruminate on where we came from by taking time to reflect on the ways that these and other historic events of August 15th have shaped the modern landscape in which we live.

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