Today is Saturday, March 23, the 82nd day of 2013. There are 283 days left in the year.
Today’s highlight in history:
On March 23, 1913, five days of heavy rain began falling in the Ohio River Valley; Dayton, Ohio, saw catastrophic flooding as the rising Great Miami River breached its levees. Hundreds of deaths in the region were blamed on the weather.
On this date:
In 1775, Patrick Henry delivered an address to the Virginia Provincial Convention in which he is said to have declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
In 1792, Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 94 in G Major (the “Surprise” symphony) had its first public performance in London.
In 1806, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, having reached the Pacific coast, began their journey back east.
In 1919, Benito Mussolini founded his Fascist political movement in Milan, Italy.
In 1933, the German Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act, which effectively granted Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers.
In 1942, the first Japanese-Americans evacuated by the U.S. Army during World War II arrived at the internment camp in Manzanar, Calif.
In 1965, America’s first two-person space flight began as Gemini 3 blasted off with astronauts Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young aboard for a nearly 5-hour flight.
In 1973, before sentencing a group of Watergate break-in defendants, Chief U.S. District Judge John J. Sirica read aloud a letter to him from James W. McCord Jr. which said there had been “political pressure” to “plead guilty and remain silent.”
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan first proposed developing technology to intercept incoming enemy missiles — an idea that came to be known as the Strategic Defense Initiative. Dr. Barney Clark, recipient of a Jarvik permanent artificial heart, died at the University of Utah Medical Center after 112 days with the device.
In 1993, scientists announced they’d found the renegade gene that causes Huntington’s disease.
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a $938 billion health care overhaul, declaring “a new season in America.”
In 2011, Academy Award-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor died in Los Angeles at age 79.
Ten years ago: During the Iraq War, a U.S. Army maintenance convoy was ambushed in Nasiriyah; 11 soldiers were killed, including Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa; six were captured, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was rescued April 1, 2003. Also in Nasiriyah, 18 U.S. Marines from Charlie Company were killed in the vicinity of the Saddam Canal Bridge. A U.S. Air Force helicopter crashed in Afghanistan, killing all six people on board. Grenades exploded at the 101st Airborne command center in Kuwait, killing two officers; a U.S. soldier, Sgt. Hasan Akbar, was later convicted of murder and sentenced to death. At the Academy Awards, “Chicago” won best picture; “The Pianist” won best director for Roman Polanski and best actor for Adrien Brody; Nicole Kidman won best actress for “The Hours.”
Five years ago: A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000. Vice President Dick Cheney visited the West Bank, where Palestinian leaders asked him to pressure Israel to halt settlement construction and voiced other complaints. The Seattle-based fishing trawler Alaska Ranger sank in the Bering Sea, killing five crew members; 42 others survived.
One year ago: Urging Americans to “do some soul searching,” President Barack Obama injected himself into the emotional debate over the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida, saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” The U.S. Army formally charged Staff Sgt. Robert Bales with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of 17 villagers, more than half of them children, during a shooting rampage in southern Afghanistan. Pope Benedict XVI landed in Mexico to throngs of faithful who gathered at the tarmac and lined more than 20 miles of his route into the city of Leon.
Today’s birthdays: Comedian Marty Allen is 91. Sir Roger Bannister, the runner who broke the 4-minute mile in 1954, is 84. Movie director Mark Rydell is 79. Motorsports Hall of Famer Craig Breedlove is 76. Singer-producer Ric Ocasek is 64. Singer Chaka Khan is 60. Actress Amanda Plummer is 56. Actress Catherine Keener is 54. Actress Hope Davis and comedian John Pinette are 49. Actor Richard Grieco and musician Kevin Griffin (Yankee Grey) are 48. Actress Marin Hinkle is 47. Singer-musician Damon Albarn (Blur) is 45. Actress-singer Melissa Errico and musician John Humphrey (The Nixons) are 43. Actresses Michelle Monaghan and Keri Russell are 37. Actresswa Anastasia Griffith and Nicholle Tom, gossip columnist-blogger Perez Hilton, and singer Paul Martin (Marshall Dyllon) are 35.
Thought for today: “Having only friends would be dull anyway — like eating eggs without salt.” — Hedda Hopper, American gossip columnist (1890-1966).