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Today in History

Today in History

Today is Thursday, April 20, the 110th day of 2017. There are 255 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlights in History:

On April 20, 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Wooley v. Maynard, ruled 6-3 that car owners could refuse to display state mottoes on license plates, such as New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die.” The Woody Allen comedy “Annie Hall,” co-starring Diane Keaton in the title role, went into general release.

On this date:

In 1792, France declared war on Austria, marking the start of the French Revolutionary Wars.

In 1861, Col. Robert E. Lee resigned his commission in the United States Army. (Lee went on to command the Army of Northern Virginia, and eventually became general-in-chief of the Confederate forces.)

In 1889, Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn, Austria.

In 1912, Boston’s Fenway Park hosted its first professional baseball game while Navin Field (Tiger Stadium) opened in Detroit. (The Red Sox defeated the New York Highlanders 7-6 in 11 innings; the Tigers beat the Cleveland Naps 6-5 in 11 innings.)

In 1914, the Ludlow Massacre took place when the Colorado National Guard opened fire on a tent colony of striking miners; about 20 (accounts vary) strikers, women and children died.

In 1916, the Chicago Cubs played their first game at Wrigley Field (then known as Weeghman Park); the Cubs defeated the Cincinnati Reds 7-6.

In 1947, Denmark’s King Christian X, a popular symbol of resistance to German occupation during World War II, died at age 76, ending a reign of 35 years.

In 1968, Pierre Elliott Trudeau was sworn in as prime minister of Canada.

In 1972, Apollo 16’s lunar module, carrying astronauts John W. Young and Charles M. Duke Jr., landed on the moon.

In 1987, the United States deported Karl Linnas to the Soviet Union, where he had been convicted in absentia of Nazi war crimes and faced a death sentence. (Linnas, who maintained his innocence, died of heart disease in Leningrad the following July.)

In 1999, the Columbine High School massacre took place in Colorado as two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, shot and killed 12 classmates and one teacher before taking their own lives.

In 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform, leased by BP, killed 11 workers and caused a blow-out that began spewing an estimated 200 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. (The well was finally capped nearly three months later, on July 15.)

Ten years ago: The family of Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho (sung-wee joh), who shot and killed 32 people and himself, told The Associated Press they felt “hopeless, helpless and lost,” and “never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence.” A disgruntled worker, William Phillips, shot and killed NASA employee David Beverly at the Johnson Space Center in Houston before barricading himself with a hostage and then killing himself. (The second hostage escaped with minor injuries.)

Five years ago: A judge ruled that George Zimmerman could be released on $150,000 bail while he awaited trial on a charge of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin during a Feb. 2012 confrontation in a Sanford, Florida gated community. (Zimmerman was acquitted.) In Pakistan, a Bhoja Air Boeing 737-200 crashed while on approach to the main airport in Islamabad, killing all 127 people on board.

One year ago: Five former New Orleans police officers pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the deadly shootings on the Danziger Bridge in the days following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. ESPN fired former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling as a baseball analyst after comments he’d made on Facebook that were critical of transgender rights. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist born into slavery, would be the new face on the $20 bill, replacing President Andrew Jackson. Pro wrestler Chyna (Joan Marie Laurer) was found dead in her Redondo Beach, California, apartment; she was 46.

Today’s Birthdays: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is 97. Actor Leslie Phillips is 93. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., is 81. Actor George Takei is 80. Singer Johnny Tillotson is 79. Actor Ryan O’Neal is 76. Bluegrass singer-musician Doyle Lawson (Quicksilver) is 73. Actress Judith O’Dea (Film: “Night of the Living Dead”) is 72. Rock musician Craig Frost (Grand Funk; Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band) is 69. Actor Gregory Itzin (iht-zihn) is 69. Actress Jessica Lange is 68. Actress Veronica Cartwright is 68. Actor Clint Howard is 58. Actor Crispin Glover is 53. Actor Andy Serkis is 53. Olympic silver medal figure skater Rosalynn Sumners is 53. Actor William deVry is 49. Country singer Wade Hayes is 48. Actor Shemar Moore is 47. Actress Carmen Electra is 45. Reggae singer Stephen Marley is 45. Rock musician Marty Crandall is 42. Actor Joey Lawrence is 41. Country musician Clay Cook (Zac Brown Band) is 39. Actor Clayne Crawford is 39. Actor Tim Jo is 33.

Thought for Today: “If anyone tells you something strange about the world, something you had never heard before, do not laugh but listen attentively; make him repeat it, make him explain it; no doubt there is something there worth taking hold of.” — Georges Duhamel, French author (1884-1966).

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