Today is Wednesday, April 12, the 102nd day of 2017. There are 263 days left in the year.
Today’s highlight: On April 12, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, at age 63; he was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman.
On this date:
In 1606, England’s King James I decreed the design of the original Union Flag, which combined the flags of England and Scotland.
In 1776, North Carolina’s Fourth Provincial Congress authorized the colony’s delegates to the Continental Congress to support independence from Britain.
In 1861, the American Civil War began as Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
In 1934, “Tender Is the Night,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was first published in book form after being serialized in Scribner’s Magazine.
In 1955, the Salk vaccine against polio was declared safe and effective.
In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space, orbiting the earth once before making a safe landing.
In 1963, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, charged with contempt of court and parading without a permit. (During his time behind bars, King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”)
In 1975, singer, dancer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker, 68, died in Paris.
In 1981, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight. Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, 66, died in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 1985, Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, became the first sitting member of Congress to fly in space as the shuttle Discovery lifted off.
In 1990, in its first meeting, East Germany’s first democratically elected parliament acknowledged responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust, and asked the forgiveness of Jews and others who had suffered.
In 1992, after five years in the making, Euro Disneyland (now called Disneyland Paris) opened in Marne-La-Vallee, France, amid controversy as French intellectuals bemoaned the invasion of American pop culture.
Ten years ago: A suicide bomber breached security in Iraq’s parliament and blew himself up in the dining hall; a Sunni parliament member was killed. CBS fired Don Imus from his radio program for insulting the Rutgers women’s basketball team on the air; in the evening, Imus met with team members at the New Jersey governor’s mansion in Princeton (Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who was en route to that meeting, was seriously injured when his official vehicle crashed).
Five years ago: Jury selection began in Greensboro, North Carolina, for the corruption trial of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, charged with six counts of campaign finance fraud. (The jury ended up acquitting Edwards of accepting illegal campaign contributions while deadlocking on the other five counts; federal prosecutors later dropped the remaining charges.)
One year ago: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told 1,500 Marines and sailors at Camp Pendleton, California, that the Pentagon’s decision to let women compete for all military combat positions was as irreversible as earlier edicts to integrate blacks and allow gays and lesbians to openly serve. A man convicted of killing his neighbor during a burglary in 1996 became the fourth person put to death in Georgia in 2016. Al-Jazeera America, which failed in its attempt to establish another TV news network, signed off after more than 2 1/2 years on the air. Actress Anne Jackson, who often appeared onstage with her husband, Eli Wallach, in comedies and classics, died in New York at age 90. David Gest, a music producer and Liza Minnelli’s former husband, died in London at 62.
Today’s birthdays: Children’s author Beverly Cleary is 101. Actress Jane Withers is 91. Opera singer Montserrat Caballe is 84. Playwright Alan Ayckbourn is 78. Jazz musician Herbie Hancock is 77. Rock singer John Kay (Steppenwolf) is 73. Actor Ed O’Neill is 71. Actor Dan Lauria is 70. Former talk show host David Letterman is 70. Author Scott Turow is 68. Singer David Cassidy is 67. Actor-playwright Tom Noonan is 66. Rhythm-and-blues singer JD Nicholas (The Commodores) is 65. Singer Pat Travers is 63. Actor Andy Garcia is 61. Movie director Walter Salles is 61. Country singer Vince Gill is 60. Actress Suzzanne Douglas is 60. Model/TV personality J Alexander is 59. Rock musician Will Sergeant (Echo & the Bunnymen) is 59. Rock singer Art Alexakis (Everclear) is 55. Country singer Deryl Dodd is 53. Folk-pop singer Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) is 53. Actress Alicia Coppola is 49. Rock singer Nicholas Hexum (311) is 47. Actor Nicholas Brendon is 46. Actress Shannen Doherty is 46. Actress Marley Shelton is 43. Actress Sarah Jane Morris is 40. Actress Jordana Spiro is 40. Rock musician Guy Berryman (Coldplay) is 39. Actor Riley Smith is 39. Actress Claire Danes is 38. Actress Jennifer Morrison is 38. Actor Matt McGorry is 31. Contemporary Christian musician Joe Rickard (Red) is 30. Rock singer-musician Brendon Urie (Panic! at the Disco) is 30. Actress Saoirse Ronan is 23.
Thought for today: “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.” — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945).