updated 3/23/2005 12:04:01 AM ET 2005-03-23T05:04:01

Today is Wednesday, March 23, the 82nd day of 2005. There are 283 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry made his famous call for American independence from Britain, telling the Virginia Provincial Convention, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

On this date:
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, Italy.

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

In 1942, during World War II, the U.S. government began evacuating Japanese-Americans from their West Coast homes to detention centers.

In 1956, Pakistan became an independent republic within the British Commonwealth.

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.

In 1983, President Reagan first proposed developing technology to intercept enemy missiles — a proposal that came to be known as the Strategic Defense Initiative, as well as “Star Wars.”

In 1983, Dr. Barney Clark, recipient of a permanent artificial heart, died at the University of Utah Medical Center after 112 days with the device.

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

In 2003, a U.S. Army maintenance convoy was ambushed in Iraq; 11 soldiers were killed, seven were captured, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was rescued on April 1.

Ten years ago: Secretary of State Warren Christopher met with Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev in Geneva; afterward, Kozyrev said the U.S.-Russia “honeymoon has come to an end,” referring to disagreements over Chechnya and nuclear sales to Iran.

Five years ago: Pope John Paul II paid his respects at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. President Clinton visited the western Indian village of Nayla. In a first, Speaker Dennis Hastert named a Catholic priest, the Rev. Daniel Coughlin, as the new House chaplain.

One year ago: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell offered a strong defense of the administration’s pre-Sept. 11 actions as they testified before a federal commission reviewing the 2001 attacks. A report by Medicare trustees said that without changes, the federal health care program would go broke by 2019, seven years earlier than expected.

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Marty Allen is 83. Movie director Mark Rydell is 71. Singer-producer Ric Ocasek is 56. Singer Chaka Khan is 52. Actress Amanda Plummer is 48. Actress Hope Davis is 41. Comedian John Pinnett is 41. Actor Richard Grieco is 40. Country musician Kevin Griffin (Yankee Grey) is 40. Rock singer-musician Damon Albarn (Blur) is 37. Actress-singer Melissa Errico is 35. Rock musician John Humphrey (The Nixons) is 35. Actress Keri Russell is 29. Actress Nicholle Tom is 27. Country singer Paul Martin (Marshall Dyllon) is 27.

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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