Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 16, 2007, in one of America’s worst school attacks, a college senior killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech before taking his own life.
On this date:
In 1789, President-elect George Washington left Mount Vernon, Virginia, for his inauguration in New York.
In 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia.
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 1945, 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 1947, the cargo ship Grandcamp, carrying 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 and exploded the following day; the blasts and fires killed nearly 600 people.
In 1962, New Orleans Archbishop Joseph Rummel excommunicated three local Roman Catholics for fighting racial integration of parochial schools.
Bob Dylan debuted his song “Blowin’ in the Wind” at Gerde’s Folk City in New York.
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in which the civil rights activist responded to a group of local clergymen who had criticized him for leading street protests; King defended his tactics, writing, “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 1977, Alex Haley, author of the best-seller “Roots,” visited the Gambian village of Juffure, where, he believed, his ancestor Kunte Kinte was captured as a slave in 1767.
In 1996, Britain’s Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York, announced they were in the process of divorcing.
In 2010, 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.)
Ten years ago: A Taliban sleeper agent walked into a meeting of NATO trainers and Afghan troops at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in the eastern Afghan province of Laghman and detonated a vest of explosives hidden underneath his uniform; six American troops, four Afghan soldiers and an interpreter were killed.
Five years 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.
One year ago: President Donald Trump gave governors a road map for easing coronavirus restrictions, laying out a “phased and deliberate approach” to restoring normal activity in places that had strong testing in place and were seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state would extend stay-at-home restrictions for at least another month. The Labor Department said the wave of layoffs that had engulfed the economy since the virus struck had caused another 5.2 million people to seek unemployment benefits, raising the total number of laid-off workers to 22 million; it was the worst run of U.S. job losses on record. The Trump administration gutted an Obama-era rule that compelled the country’s coal plants to cut back emissions of mercury and other human health hazards.
Today’s Birthdays: Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is 94. Singer Bobby Vinton is 86. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II is 81. Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 74. Former Massachusetts first lady Ann Romney is 72. NFL coach Bill Belichick is 69. Rock singer and former politician Peter Garrett is 68. Actor Ellen Barkin is 67. Actor Michel Gill is 61. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is 59. Rock musician Jason Scheff (Chicago) is 59. Singer Jimmy Osmond is 58.
Rock singer David Pirner (Soul Asylum) is 57. Actor-comedian Martin Lawrence is 56. Actor Jon Cryer is 56. Actor Peter Billingsley is 50. Actor Lukas Haas is 45. Actor-singer Kelli O’Hara is 45. Actor Claire Foy (TV: “The Crown”) is 37. Figure skater Mirai Nagasu is 28. Actor Sadie Sink is 19.