Today is Monday, Jan. 20, the 20th day of 2014. There are 345 days left in the year. This is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
On Jan. 20, 1981, Iran released 52 Americans it had held hostage for 444 days, minutes after the presidency had passed from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan.
On this date:
In 1265, England’s first representative Parliament met for the first time.
In 1649, King Charles I of England went on trial, accused of high treason (he was found guilty and executed by month’s end).
In 1887, the U.S. Senate approved an agreement to lease Pearl Harbor in Hawaii as a naval base.
In 1936, Britain’s King George V died; he was succeeded by Edward VIII.
In 1942, Nazi officials held the notorious Wannsee conference, during which they arrived at their “final solution” that called for exterminating Jews.
In 1954, “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial,” a play by Herman Wouk based on part of his novel “The Caine Mutiny,” opened on Broadway. The National Negro Network, America’s first black-owned radio network, began broadcasting over 20 stations (however, it folded the following year).
In 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States.
In 1964, Capitol Records released the album “Meet the Beatles!”
In 1986, the United States observed the first federal holiday in honor of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
In 1989, George H.W. Bush was sworn in as the 41st president of the United States; Dan Quayle was sworn in as vice president.
In 1994, Shannon Faulkner became the first woman to attend classes at The Citadel in South Carolina. (Faulkner joined the cadet corps in Aug. 1995 under court order but soon dropped out, citing isolation and stress from the legal battle.)
In 2001, George Walker Bush became America’s 43rd president after one of the most turbulent elections in U.S. history.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union address, asserted that America was strengthening its economy and successfully combatting terrorism. Dick Gephardt quit the Democratic presidential race. Martha Stewart’s stock-trading trial formally began in New York (Stewart ended up serving a five-month prison sentence for lying about a stock sale). The Salvation Army announced a donation likely to exceed $1.5 billion from the estate of Joan Kroc, the late widow of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc.
Five years ago: Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s 44th, as well as first African-American, president. Russian natural gas began flowing into Ukraine after a nearly two-week cutoff that had left large parts of Europe cold and dark.
One year ago: President Barack Obama was sworn in for four more years in a simple Sunday ceremony at the White House. The San Francisco 49ers rebounded from a 17-0 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in the NFC championship game. The Baltimore Ravens earned their first Super Bowl appearance in 12 years with a 28-13 victory over the New England Patriots for the AFC championship.