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Today in history: April 19

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

Today is Wednesday, April 19, the 109th day of 2005. There are 256 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 19, 1775, the American Revolutionary War began with the battles of Lexington and Concord.

On this date:
In 1782, the Netherlands recognized American independence.

In 1893, the Oscar Wilde play “A Woman of No Importance” opened at the Haymarket Theatre in London.

In 1933, the United States went off the gold standard.

In 1943, during World War II, tens of thousands of Jews living in the Warsaw Ghetto began a valiant but futile battle against Nazi forces.

In 1945, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel” opened on Broadway.

In 1951, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, relieved of his Far East command by President Truman, bid farewell to Congress, quoting a line from a ballad: “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

In 1975, India announced it had launched its first satellite, from the Soviet Union atop a Soviet rocket.

In 1989, 47 sailors were killed when a gun turret exploded aboard the USS Iowa.

In 1993, the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, ended as fire destroyed the structure after federal agents began smashing their way in; dozens of people, including David Koresh, were killed.

In 1995, a truck bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds. (Timothy McVeigh was later convicted of federal murder charges and executed.)

Ten years ago: On the first anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, hundreds of mourners paused for 168 seconds of silence at the site where the federal building once stood. President Clinton, visiting Russia, paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Russians who died in the Nazi siege of Leningrad — and to the victims of the Oklahoma bombing as well.

Five years ago: Pharmaceutical giants dropped a lawsuit against a South African law that could provide cheaper, generic AIDS drugs to millions of Africans — ending an international battle over patent rights and profit. The musical “The Producers” opened on Broadway. Former New Hampshire Gov. Meldrim Thomson died at his home in Orford at age 89.

One year ago: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was elected pope in the first conclave of the new millennium; he took the name Benedict XVI. A Spanish court convicted a former Argentine naval officer, Adolfo Scilingo, of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 640 years in prison for throwing 30 prisoners from planes during his country’s “dirty war.” General Motors reported a $1.1 billion quarterly loss.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Hugh O’Brian is 81. Actress Elinor Donahue is 69. Actor Tim Curry is 60. Pop singer Mark “Flo” Volman (The Turtles; Flo and Eddie) is 59. Tennis player Sue Barker is 50. Recording executive Suge Knight is 41. Singer-songwriter Dar Williams is 39. Actress Ashley Judd is 38. Singer Bekka Bramlett is 38. Latin pop singer Luis Miguel is 36. Actor James Franco is 28. Actress Kate Hudson is 27. Actor Hayden Christensen is 25. Actress Catalina Sandino Moreno is 25. Actor Courtland Mead is 19.

Thought for Today: “The charm, one might say the genius of memory, is that it is choosy, chancy and temperamental: it rejects the edifying cathedral and indelibly photographs the small boy outside, chewing a hunk of melon in the dust.” — Elizabeth Bowen, Irish-born author (1899-1973).