Today in History

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Today is Wednesday, March 20, the 79th day of 2019. There are 286 days left in the year. Spring arrives at 5:58 p.m. Eastern time.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 20, 1995, in Tokyo, 12 people were killed, more than 5,500 others sickened when packages containing the deadly chemical sarin were leaked on five separate subway trains by Aum Shinrikyo cult members.

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On this date:

In 1413, England’s King Henry IV died; he was succeeded by Henry V.

In 1760, a 10-hour fire erupted in Boston, destroying 349 buildings and burning 10 ships, but claiming no lives.

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte returned to Paris after escaping his exile on Elba, beginning his “Hundred Days” rule.

In 1854, the Republican Party of the United States was founded by slavery opponents at a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin.

In 1942, U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, having evacuated the Philippines at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, told reporters in Terowie, Australia: “I came out of Bataan, and I shall return.”

In 1952, the U.S. Senate ratified, 66-10, a Security Treaty with Japan.

In 1969, John Lennon married Yoko Ono in Gibraltar.

In 1976, kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst was convicted of armed robbery for her part in a San Francisco bank holdup carried out by the Symbionese Liberation Army. (Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison; she was released after serving 22 months, and was pardoned in 2001 by President Bill Clinton.)

In 1977, voters in Paris chose former French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac to be the French capital’s first mayor in more than a century.

In 1985, Libby Riddles of Teller, Alaska, became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.

In 1990, singer Gloria Estefan suffered a broken back when a truck rear-ended her tour bus on a snow-covered highway in Pennsylvania. (Surgeons implanted titanium rods to stabilize her spine, and Estefan was able to make a comeback after months of intensive physical therapy.)

In 2004, Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide rallied against the U.S.-led war in Iraq on the first anniversary of the start of the conflict. The U.S. military charged six soldiers with abusing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison.

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama reached out to the Iranian people in a video with Farsi subtitles, saying the U.S. was prepared to end years of strained relations if Tehran toned down its bellicose rhetoric; Iranian officials dismissed the overture, saying they wanted concrete change from Washington before they were ready to enter a dialogue. Pope Benedict XVI, visiting Angola, condemned sexual violence against women in Africa and chided those countries on the continent that approved abortion.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama ordered economic sanctions against nearly two dozen members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and a major bank that provided them support, raising the stakes in an East-West showdown over Ukraine. Four gunmen opened fire in a crowded restaurant frequented by foreigners at the Serena Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing nine people.

One year ago: Investigators pursuing a suspected serial bombing in Austin, Texas, shifted attention to a FedEx shipping center near San Antonio, where a package had exploded. In a phone call to Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump offered congratulations on Putin’s re-election victory; a senior official said Trump had been warned in briefing materials that he should not congratulate Putin.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Dame Vera Lynn is 102. Producer-director-comedian Carl Reiner is 97. Actor Hal Linden is 88. Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney is 80. Country singer Don Edwards is 80. Basketball Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley is 74. Country singer-musician Ranger Doug (Riders in the Sky) is 73. Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr is 71. Blues singer-musician Marcia Ball is 70. Actor William Hurt is 69. Rock musician Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) is 69. Rock musician Jimmie Vaughan is 68. Country musician Jimmy Seales (Shenandoah) is 65. Actress Amy Aquino is 62. Movie director Spike Lee is 62. Actress Theresa Russell is 62. Actress Vanessa Bell Calloway is 62. Actress Holly Hunter is 61. Rock musician Slim Jim Phantom (The Stray Cats) is 58. Actress-model-designer Kathy Ireland is 56. Actor David Thewlis is 56. Rock musician Adrian Oxaal (James) is 54. Actress Jessica Lundy is 53. Actress Liza Snyder is 51. Actor Michael Rapaport is 49. Actor Alexander Chaplin is 48. Actor Cedric Yarbrough is 46. Actress Paula Garces is 45. Actor Michael Genadry is 41. Actress Bianca Lawson is 40. Comedian-actor Mikey Day is 39. Actor Nick Blood (TV: “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) is 37. Rock musician Nick Wheeler (The All-American Rejects) is 37. Actor Michael Cassidy is 36. Actress-singer Christy Carlson Romano is 35. Actress Ruby Rose is 33. Actress Barrett Doss is 30.