Today’s Highlight in History:
On March 11, 1918, what were believed to be the first confirmed U.S. cases of a deadly global flu pandemic were reported among U.S. Army soldiers stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas; 46 would die. (The worldwide outbreak of influenza claimed an estimated 20 to 40 million lives.)
On this date:
In 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln removed Gen. George B. McClellan as general-in-chief of the Union armies, leaving him in command of the Army of the Potomac, a post McClellan also ended up losing.
In 1935, the Bank of Canada began operations, issuing its first series of bank notes.
In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Bill, providing war supplies to countries fighting the Axis.
In 1942, as Japanese forces continued to advance in the Pacific during World War II, U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur left the Philippines for Australia, where he vowed on March 20, “I shall return” — a promise he kept more than 2½ years later.
In 1954, the U.S. Army charged that Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wis., and his subcommittee’s chief counsel, Roy Cohn, had exerted pressure to obtain favored treatment for Pvt. G. David Schine, a former consultant to the subcommittee. (The confrontation culminated in the famous Senate Army-McCarthy hearings.)
In 1955, Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, died in London at age 73.
In 1959, the Lorraine Hansberry drama “A Raisin in the Sun” opened at New York’s Ethel Barrymore Theater.
In 1977, more than 130 hostages held in Washington, D.C., by Hanafi Muslims were freed after ambassadors from three Islamic nations joined the negotiations.
In 1985, Mikhail S. Gorbachev was chosen to succeed the late Konstantin U. Chernenko as general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.
In 1986, the state of Georgia pardoned Leo Frank, a Jewish businessman lynched in 1915 for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan.
In 2004, ten bombs exploded in quick succession across the commuter rail network in Madrid, Spain, killing 191 people in an attack linked to al-Qaida-inspired militants.
In 2006, former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic (sloh-BOH’-dahn mee-LOH’-shuh-vich) was found dead of a heart attack in his prison cell in the Netherlands, abruptly ending his four-year U.N. war crimes trial; he was 64.
Ten years ago: A magnitude-9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Japan’s northeastern coast, killing nearly 20,000 people and severely damaging the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a measure to eliminate most union rights for public employees, a proposal that had provoked three weeks of loud, relentless protests. NFL owners and players broke off labor negotiations hours before their contract expired; the league imposed a lockout that lasted 4½ months. Songwriter Hugh Martin, whose works included “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Trolley Song,” died in Encinitas, California, at age 96.
Five years ago: Nancy Reagan’s life was celebrated by 1,000 invited guests gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, to pay final tribute to the former first lady who had died five days earlier at the age of 94. Keith Emerson, 71, founder and keyboardist of the progressive-rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, took his own life in Santa Monica, California; he was 71.
One year ago: With infection clusters expanding in the United States and Europe, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. In an Oval Office address to the nation, President Donald Trump said he was sharply restricting travel from Europe to the U.S. The NBA suspended its season “until further notice” after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus. Actor Tom Hanks said that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive in Australia; they were isolated in stable condition in a hospital. Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual abuse after delivering a rambling plea for mercy in a New York courtroom. Russian lawmakers approved constitutional reforms that would let President Vladimir Putin stay in power until 2036. Three service members, including two Americans, were killed when a barrage of rockets was fired at a military base in Iraq.
Today’s Birthdays: Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is 90. Former ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson is 87. Musician Flaco Jimenez (FLAH’-koh hee-MEH’-nez) is 82. Actor Tricia O’Neil is 76. Actor Mark Metcalf is 75.
Rock singer-musician Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge) is 74. Singer Bobby McFerrin is 71. Movie director Jerry Zucker is 71. Singer Cheryl Lynn is 70. Actor Susan Richardson is 69. Recording executive Jimmy Iovine (eye-VEEN’) is 68. Singer Nina Hagen is 66. Country singer Jimmy Fortune (The Statler Brothers) is 66. Actor Elias Koteas (ee-LY’-uhs koh-TAY’-uhs) is 60. Actor-director Peter Berg is 59. Singer Mary Gauthier (GOH’-shay) is 59. Actor Jeffrey Nordling is 59. Actor Alex Kingston is 58. Actor Wallace Langham is 56. Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., is 56. Actor John Barrowman is 54. Singer Lisa Loeb is 53. Neo-soul musician Al Gamble (St. Paul & the Broken Bones) is 52. Singer Pete Droge is 52. Actor Terrence Howard is 52. Rock musician Rami Jaffee is 52. Actor Johnny Knoxville is 50. Rock singer-musicians Benji and Joel Madden (Good Charlotte; The Madden Brothers) are 42. Actor David Anders is 40. Singer LeToya Luckett is 40. Actor Thora Birch is 39. TV personality Melissa Rycroft is 38. Actor Rob Brown is 37. Actor Jodie Comer is 28.