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Today in History

Posted April 16

Today in History

Today is Easter Sunday, April 16, the 106th day of 2017. There are 259 days left in the year.

Today's Highlights in History:

On April 16, 1947, the cargo ship Grandcamp, carrying a load of ammonium nitrate, blew up in the harbor in Texas City, Texas; a nearby ship, the High Flyer, which was carrying ammonium nitrate and sulfur, caught fire as a result and exploded the following day; the blasts and fires killed nearly 600 people. In a speech at the South Carolina statehouse in Columbia, financier Bernard M. Baruch said: "Let us not be deceived — we are today in the midst of a cold war."

On this date:

In 1789, President-elect George Washington left Mount Vernon, Virginia, for his inauguration in New York.

In 1867, aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright was born in Millville, Indiana (his brother Orville was born five years later in Dayton, Ohio).

In 1912, American aviator Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel, leaving Dover, England, and arriving near Calais, France, in 59 minutes.

In 1917, following the abdication of Czar Nicholas II, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin returned to Russia after years of exile.

In 1937, the Laurel & Hardy slapstick comedy "Way Out West" was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

In 1940, Major League Baseball's first (and, to date, only) opening day no-hitter took place as Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians pitched a no-no against the Chicago White Sox, 1-0, at Comiskey Park.

In 1945, during World War II, a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea torpedoed and sank the MV Goya, which Germany was using to transport civilian refugees and wounded soldiers; it's estimated that up to 7,000 people died. In his first speech to Congress, President Harry S. Truman pledged to carry out the war and peace policies of his late predecessor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in which he said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

In 1972, Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon with astronauts John W. Young, Charles M. Duke Jr. and Ken Mattingly on board.

In 1986, dispelling rumors he was dead, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appeared on television to condemn the U.S. raid on his country and to say that Libyans were "ready to die" defending their nation.

In 1996, Britain's Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York, announced they were in the process of divorcing.

In 2014, 304 people, mostly students, died when a South Korean ferry, the Sewol, sank while en route from Incheon to the resort island of Jeju; 172 people survived.

Ten years ago: In one of America's worst school attacks, college senior Seung-Hui Cho (sung-wee joh) killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech before taking his own life. Robert Cheruiyot (CHEHR'-ee-aht) of Kenya won the Boston Marathon for the third time in 2:14:13; Russia's Lidiya Grigoryeva (grih-gohr-YEV'-uh) captured the women's race in 2:29:18. Carrie Underwood's dark hit "Before He Cheats" won video of the year, female video and best video director at the fan-voted CMT Music Awards.

Five years ago: A trial began in Oslo, Norway, for Anders Breivik (AHN'-durs BRAY'-vihk), charged with killing 77 people in a bomb and gun rampage in July 2011. (Breivik was found guilty of terrorism and premeditated murder and given a 21-year prison sentence.) The Associated Press won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for documenting the New York Police Department's widespread spying on Muslims, while the Philadelphia Inquirer was honored in the public service category for its examination of violence in the city's schools; for the first time in 35 years, no Pulitzer for fiction was given.

One year ago: In an extraordinary gesture, Pope Francis brought 12 Syrian Muslims to Italy aboard his plane after an emotional visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, which was facing the brunt of Europe's migration crisis. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake on Ecuador's central coast near the town of Muisne (MWIHZ'-nee) killed more than 660 people.

Today's Birthdays: Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is 90. Actor Peter Mark Richman is 90. Singer Bobby Vinton is 82. Denmark's Queen Margrethe II is 77. Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 70. Former Massachusetts first lady Ann Romney is 68. NFL coach Bill Belichick is 65. Rock singer and former politician Peter Garrett is 64. Actress Ellen Barkin is 63. Actor Michel Gill (TV: "House of Cards"; "Mr. Robot") is 57. Rock musician Jason Scheff (Chicago) is 55. Singer Jimmy Osmond is 54. Rock singer David Pirner (Soul Asylum) is 53. Actor-comedian Martin Lawrence is 52. Actor Jon Cryer is 52. Rock musician Dan Rieser is 51. Actor Peter Billingsley is 46. Actor Lukas Haas is 41. Actress-singer Kelli O'Hara is 41. Figure skater Mirai Nagasu is 24. Actress Sadie Sink is 15.

Thought for Today: "Chaos is the score upon which reality is written." — Henry Miller, American author (1891-1980).

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