Today in History

Today is Thursday, April 16, the 106th day of 2015. There are 259 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlights in History:

On April 16, 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. U.S. troops reached Nuremberg. U.S. forces invaded the Japanese island of Ie Shima. 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.

On this date:

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

In 1879, Bernadette Soubirous, who’d described seeing visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes, died in Nevers, France.

In 1889, comedian and movie director Charles Chaplin was born in London.

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 1935, the radio comedy program “Fibber McGee and Molly” premiered on NBC’s Blue Network.

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 1947, the French ship Grandcamp blew up at the harbor in Texas City, Texas; another ship, the High Flyer, exploded the following day (the blasts and fires killed nearly 600 people). Financier Bernard M. Baruch said in a speech at the South Carolina statehouse, “Let us not be deceived – we are today in the midst of a cold war.”

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 1991, Sir David Lean, who had directed “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” ”Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago” (and who was the first husband of actress Kay Walsh) died in London at age 83.

In 2007, in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history, student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech before taking his own life.

Ten years ago: Marla Ruzicka, the founder of a humanitarian group to aid civilian casualties in Iraq, was killed in a car bombing in Baghdad. Cardinals meeting at the Vatican destroyed the late Pope John Paul II’s ring and seal to formally end his reign. Authorities in Hillsborough County, Florida, found the body of missing 13-year-old Sarah Michelle Lunde. (A suspect, David Lee Onstott, was later convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.) Actress Kay Walsh (the second wife of director David Lean) died in London at age 93 (some sources reported 90).

Five years ago: The U.S government accused Wall Street’s most powerful firm of fraud, saying Goldman Sachs & Co. had sold mortgage investments without telling buyers the securities were crafted with input from a client who was betting on them to fail. (In July 2010, Goldman agreed to pay $550 million in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but did not admit wrongdoing.)

One year ago: More than 300 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.

Today’s Birthdays: Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is 88. Actor Peter Mark Richman is 88. Singer Bobby Vinton is 80. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II is 75. Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 68. Ann Romney is 66. NFL coach Bill Belichick is 63. Rock singer and former politician Peter Garrett is 62. Actress Ellen Barkin is 61. Rock musician Jason Scheff (Chicago) is 53. Singer Jimmy Osmond is 52. Rock singer David Pirner (Soul Asylum) is 51. Actor-comedian Martin Lawrence is 50. Actor Jon Cryer is 50. Rock musician Dan Rieser is 49. Actor Peter Billingsley is 44. Actor Lukas Haas is 39. Figure skater Mirai Nagasu is 22.

Thought for Today: “The only graceful way to accept an insult is to ignore it; if you can’t ignore it, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh at it; if you can’t laugh at it, it’s probably deserved.” – Russell Lynes, American writer (1910-1991).

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