Today's highlight in history:
On April 19, 1912, a special subcommittee of the Senate Commerce
Committee opened hearings in New York into the Titanic disaster.
(The hearings, which were subsequently moved to Washington, D.C.,
concluded on May 28.)
On this date:
In 1012, Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, was slain by Danish
invaders in Greenwich, England, after refusing to allow himself to
be ransomed. (Revered as a martyr, Alphege was canonized by Pope
Gregory VII in 1078.)
In 1775, the American Revolutionary War began with the battles of
Lexington and Concord.
In 1861, a week after the Civil War began, President Abraham Lincoln
authorized a blockade of Southern ports.
In 1933, the United States went off the gold standard.
In 1943, during World War II, tens of thousands of Jews in the
Warsaw Ghetto began a valiant but ultimately futile battle against
In 1951, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, relieved of his Far East command by
President Harry S. Truman, bid farewell in an address to Congress in
which he quoted a line from a ballad: "Old soldiers never die; they
just fade away."
In 1966, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to run in the Boston
Marathon, which at that time did not allow women to participate.
(Gibb jumped into the middle of the pack after the sound of the
starting pistol and finished in 3:21:40.)
In 1967, Kathrine (cq) Switzer became the first woman to run the
Boston Marathon under an official number by registering without
mentioning her gender; by her own estimate, she finished in 4 hours
and 20 minutes. (Bobbi Gibb, again running unofficially, finished in
In 1982, astronauts Sally K. Ride and Guion S. Bluford Jr. became
the first woman and first African-American to be tapped for U.S.
In 1993, the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco,
Texas, ended as fire destroyed the structure after federal agents
began smashing their way in; dozens of people, including sect leader
David Koresh, were killed.
In 1995, a truck bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal
Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. (Bomber Timothy
McVeigh was later convicted of federal murder charges and executed.)
In 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was elected pope in
the first conclave of the new millennium; he took the name Benedict
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Ten years ago: The U.N. Security Council gave unanimous
support to sending a U.N. fact-finding team to the Jenin (juh-NEEN')
refugee camp to determine what happened during Israel's military
assault. The space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth after
installing the first girder for a giant framework at the
international space station.
Five years ago: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered a
bleak assessment of Iraq, saying the war was "lost," triggering an
angry backlash by Republicans. A jury in Selmer, Tenn., convicted
Mary Winkler of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of her
preacher-husband, Matthew. (Mary Winkler spent seven months in
custody, with two months served in a mental facility.)
One year ago: Cuba's Communist Party picked 79-year-old Raul
Castro to replace his ailing brother Fidel as first secretary during
a key Party Congress. (The 84-year-old Fidel Castro made a surprise
appearance, to thunderous applause from the delegates.) Syria did
away with 50 years of emergency rule, but emboldened and defiant
crowds accused President Bashar Assad of simply trying to buy time
while clinging to power. Norwegian runner Grete Waitz, 57, who'd won
nine New York marathons and the silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles
Olympics, died in Oslo.
Today's birthdays: Actor Hugh O'Brian is 87. Actress Elinor
Donahue is 75. Rock musician Alan Price (The Animals) is 70. Actor
Tim Curry is 66. Pop singer Mark "Flo" Volman (The Turtles; Flo and
Eddie) is 65. Actor Tony Plana ("Ugly Betty") is 60. Former tennis
player Sue Barker is 56. Former race car driver Al Unser Jr. is 50.
Recording executive Suge Knight is 47. Singer-songwriter Dar
Williams is 45. Actress Ashley Judd is 44. Singer Bekka Bramlett is
44. Latin pop singer Luis Miguel is 42. Actress Jennifer Esposito is
40. Actress Jennifer Taylor is 40. Jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux
(PAY'-roo) is 38. Actor James Franco is 34. Actress Kate Hudson is
33. Actor Hayden Christensen is 31. Actress Catalina Sandino Moreno
is 31. Actor Courtland Mead is 25. Tennis player Maria Sharapova is
Thought for today: "The crisis you have to worry about most
is the one you don't see coming." -- Mike Mansfield, American
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