- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

Today is Monday, March 23, the 82nd day of 2009. There are 283 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry addressed the Virginia Provincial Convention; according to biographer William Wirt, it was during this speech that Henry declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

On this date:

In 1743, George Frideric Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” had its London premiere. (During the “Hallelujah Chorus,” Britain’s King George II, who was in attendance, stood _ followed by the entire audience.)

In 1792, Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 94 in G Major (the “Surprise” symphony) was performed publicly for the first time, in London.

In 1806, explorers Lewis and Clark, having reached the Pacific Coast, began their journey back east.

In 1919, Benito Mussolini founded his Fascist political movement in Milan.

In 1933, the German Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act, which effectively granted Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers.

In 1956, Pakistan became an Islamic republic.

In 1965, America’s first two-person space flight began as Gemini 3 blasted off from Cape Kennedy with astronauts Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young aboard for a nearly five-hour flight.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan first proposed developing technology to intercept incoming enemy missiles, a proposal that came to be known as the Strategic Defense Initiative. Dr. Barney Clark, recipient of a Jarvik permanent artificial heart, died at the University of Utah Medical Center after 112 days with the device.

In 1994, Luis Donaldo Colosio, Mexico’s leading presidential candidate, was assassinated in Tijuana.

In 2001, Russia’s orbiting Mir space station ended its 15-year odyssey with a planned fiery plunge into the South Pacific.

Ten years ago: NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana gave the go-ahead for airstrikes against Serbian targets following the failure of Kosovo peace talks.

Five years ago: A federal commission said Clinton and Bush administration officials had engaged in lengthy, ultimately fruitless diplomatic efforts instead of military action to try to get Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks; top Bush officials countered that the terror attacks would have occurred even if the United States had killed the al-Qaida leader. A report by Medicare trustees said that without changes, the federal health care program would go broke by 2019, seven years earlier than expected.

One year ago: A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000. Vice President Dick Cheney visited the West Bank, where Palestinian leaders asked him to pressure Israel to halt settlement construction and voiced other complaints. The Seattle-based fishing trawler Alaska Ranger sank in the Bering Sea, killing five crew members; 42 others survived. Al Copeland, founder of the Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken chain, died near Munich at age 64.

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Marty Allen is 87. Movie director Mark Rydell is 75. Singer-producer Ric Ocasek is 60. Singer Chaka Khan is 56. Actress Amanda Plummer is 52. Actress Hope Davis is 45. Comedian John Pinette is 45. Actor Richard Grieco is 44. Country musician Kevin Griffin (Yankee Grey) is 44. Actress Marin Hinkle is 43. Rock singer-musician Damon Albarn (Blur) is 41. Actress-singer Melissa Errico is 39. Rock musician John Humphrey (The Nixons) is 39. Actress Michelle Monaghan is 33. Actress Keri Russell is 33. Actress Nicholle Tom is 31. Country singer Paul Martin (Marshall Dyllon) is 31.

Thought for Today: “Having only friends would be dull anyway _ like eating eggs without salt.” _ Hedda Hopper, American gossip columnist (1890-1966).

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