Today in history: June 11

/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, June 11, the 162nd day of 2006. There are 203 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlights in History:
On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress formed a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence calling for freedom from Britain.

On this date:
In 1509, England’s King Henry the Eighth married Catherine of Aragon.

In 1770, Captain James Cook, commander of the British ship Endeavour, discovered the Great Barrier Reef off Australia by running onto it.

In 1919, “Sir Barton” won the Belmont Stakes, becoming horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner.

In 1942, the United States and the Soviet Union signed a lend-lease agreement to aid the Soviet war effort in World War II.

In 1947, the government announced the end of household and institutional sugar rationing, to take effect the next day.

In 1963, Buddhist monk Quang Duc immolated himself on a Saigon street to protest the government of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

In 1970, the United States presence in Libya came to an end as the last detachment left Wheelus Air Base.

In 1977, “Seattle Slew” won the Belmont Stakes, capturing the Triple Crown.

In 1985, Karen Ann Quinlan, the comatose patient whose case prompted a historic right-to-die court decision, died in Morris Plains, New Jersey, at age 31.

In 2004, the nation bade a lingering goodbye to former President Ronald Reagan at a stately funeral service in Washington D.C. followed hours later by a hilltop burial ceremony in his beloved California.

Ten years ago: Closing a congressional career that had lasted three and a half decades, Bob Dole said goodbye to the Senate to begin in earnest his campaign for the presidency.

Five years ago: Timothy McVeigh was executed by injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

One year ago: The first tropical storm of the season, Arlene, sloshed ashore in the Florida Panhandle. The world’s richest countries agreed in London to write off more than $40 billion of debt owed by the poorest nations. French journalist Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi assistant were freed after more than five months as hostages in Iraq. “Afleet Alex” won the Belmont Stakes by seven lengths.

Today’s Birthdays: Opera singer Rise Stevens is 93. Actor-producer Richard Todd is 87. Author William Styron is 81. Actor Gene Wilder is 73. Actor Chad Everett is 69. Comedian Johnny Brown is 69. Former auto racer Jackie Stewart is 67. Singer Joey Dee is 66. Actress Adrienne Barbeau is 61. Rock musician Frank Beard (ZZ Top) is 57. Rock singer Donnie Van Zant is 54. Actor Peter Bergman is 53. Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana is 50. Actor Hugh Laurie (“House”) is 47. Country singer-songwriter Bruce Robison is 40. Actor Peter Dinklage is 37. Country musician Smilin’ Jay McDowell is 37. Rock musician Dan Lavery (Tonic) is 37. Rock musician Tai Anderson (Third Day) is 30. Actor Joshua Jackson is 28. Christian rock musician Ryan Shrout (Kutless) is 26. Actor Shia La Beouf (“Even Stevens”) is 20.

Thought for Today: “Neither in the life of the individual nor in that of mankind is it desirable to know the future.” — Jakob Burckhardt, Swiss historian (1818-1897).