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Today in history: April 9

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Palm Sunday, April 9, the 99th day of 2006. There are 266 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 9, 1865, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

On this date:
In 1682, French explorer Robert La Salle reached the Mississippi River.

In 1939, singer Marian Anderson performed a concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, after she was denied the use of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In 1940, during World War II, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway.

In 1942, American and Philippine defenders on Bataan capitulated to Japanese forces; the surrender was followed by the notorious “Bataan Death March” which claimed nearly 10,000 lives.

In 1947, a series of tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas claimed 169 lives.

In 1959, NASA announced the selection of America’s first seven astronauts: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard and Donald Slayton.

In 1963, British statesman Winston Churchill was made an honorary U.S. citizen.

In 1965, the newly built Houston Astrodome featured its first baseball game, an exhibition between the Astros and the New York Yankees. (The Astros won, 2-1.)

In 1983, the space shuttle Challenger ended its first mission with a safe landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

In 2003, jubilant Iraqis celebrated the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, beheading a toppled statue of their longtime ruler in downtown Baghdad and embracing American troops as liberators.

Ten years ago: In a dramatic shift of purse-string power, President Clinton signed a line-item veto bill into law. (However, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the veto in 1998.) Dan Rostenkowski, the once-powerful House Ways and Means chairman, pleaded guilty to two mail fraud charges in a deal that brought with it a 17-month prison term. (Rostenkowski served 15 months, and was pardoned by President Clinton in 2000.)

Five years ago: President Bush sent Congress details of his $1.96 trillion budget for fiscal 2002, in which he targeted scores of federal programs to make room for his 10-year $1.6 trillion tax cut. American Airlines’ parent company acquired bankrupt Trans World Airlines. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Willie Stargell died in Wilmington, N.C., at age 61.

One year ago: Britain’s Prince Charles married longtime love Camilla Parker Bowles, who took the title Duchess of Cornwall. Tens of thousands of supporters of a militant Shiite cleric filled central Baghdad’s streets, demanding that American soldiers go home. A day after the funeral for Pope John Paul II, cardinals began an intense period of silence and prayer before their conclave to choose the next pope. Feminist author Andrea Dworkin died in Washington at age 58.

Today’s Birthdays: Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner is 80. Naturalist Jim Fowler is 74. Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo is 73. Actress Michael Learned is 67. Country singer Margo Smith is 64. Country singer Hal Ketchum is 53. Actor Dennis Quaid is 52. Humorist Jimmy Tingle is 51. Golfer Severiano Ballesteros is 49. Country musician Dave Innis (Restless Heart) is 47. Actress-model Paulina Porizkova is 41. Actress Cynthia Nixon is 40. Rock singer Kevin Martin (Candlebox) is 37. Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam is 27. Rock musician Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes) is 26. Actor Ryan Northcott is 26. Actor-singer Jesse McCartney is 19. Actress Kristen Stewart is 16. Actress Elle Fanning is 8.

Thought for Today: “It is difficult to give children a sense of security unless you have it yourself. If you have it, they catch it from you.” — William C. Menninger, American scientist, physician, engineer (1899-1966).