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Today in History - April 4

Saturday, April 04, 2009

By The Associated Press

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NEW YORK — 

Today is Saturday, April 4, the 94th day of 2009. There are 271 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., 39, was shot to death at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. (James Earl Ray later pleaded guilty to assassinating King, then spent the rest of his life claiming his innocence before dying in prison in 1998.)

On this date:

In 1818, Congress decided the United States flag would consist of 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state of the Union.

In 1841, President William Henry Harrison succumbed to pneumonia one month after his inaugural, becoming the first U.S. chief executive to die in office.

In 1850, the city of Los Angeles was incorporated.

In 1859, 150 years ago, "Dixie" was performed publicly for the first time by Bryant's Minstrels at Mechanics' Hall in New York. (The song is popularly attributed to Daniel Decatur Emmett, although his authorship has been called into question.)

In 1887, Susanna Madora Salter became the first woman elected mayor of an American community: Argonia, Kan.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. troops on Okinawa encountered the first significant resistance from Japanese forces at the Machinato Line.

In 1949, 12 nations, including the United States, signed the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington.

In 1975, more than 130 people, most of them children, were killed when a U.S. Air Force transport plane evacuating Vietnamese orphans crash-landed shortly after take off from Saigon.

In 1979, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the deposed prime minister of Pakistan, was hanged after he was convicted of conspiring to murder a political opponent.

In 1983, the space shuttle Challenger roared into orbit on its maiden voyage.

Ten years ago: NATO warplanes and missiles attacked an army headquarters, oil refineries and other targets in and around Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 8-2 in baseball's first season opener held in Mexico.

Five years ago: Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, an anti-American cleric, rioted in four Iraqi cities, killing dozens of Iraqis, eight U.S. troops and a Salvadoran soldier.

One year ago: Texas authorities started removing the first of more than 400 girls from a compound built by a polygamist sect. Lisa Montgomery was sentenced to death in Kansas City, Mo., for killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a mother-to-be, and cutting the baby from her womb. Pirates seized the French luxury yacht Le Ponant and its 30 crew members off the coast of Somalia. (The crew was released a week later; six alleged pirates ended up being captured.)

Today's Birthdays: Actress Elizabeth Wilson is 88. Author-poet Maya Angelou is 81. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., is 77. Recording executive Clive Davis is 77. Bandleader Hugh Masekela is 70. Author Kitty Kelley is 67. Actor Craig T. Nelson is 65. Actor Walter Charles is 64. Actress Caroline McWilliams is 64. Actress Christine Lahti is 59. Country singer Steve Gatlin (The Gatlin Brothers) is 58. Writer-producer David E. Kelley is 53. Actor Phil Morris is 50. Actress Lorraine Toussaint is 49. Actor Hugo Weaving is 49. Rock musician Craig Adams (The Cult) is 47. Actor David Cross is 45. Actor Robert Downey Jr. is 44. Actress Nancy McKeon is 43. Actor Barry Pepper is 39. Country singer Clay Davidson is 38. Rock singer Josh Todd (Buckcherry) is 38. Singer Jill Scott is 37. Rock musician Magnus Sveningsson (The Cardigans) is 37. Magician David Blaine is 36. Singer Kelly Price is 36. R&B singer Andre Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 35. Actor James Roday is 33. Actress Natasha Lyonne is 30. Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo is 30. Actress Amanda Righetti is 26. Actress Jamie Lynn Spears is 18.

Thought for Today: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." _ Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968).

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.