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Today in History - Feb. 16

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

Today is Friday, Feb. 16, the 47th day of 2007. There are 318 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 16, 1862, during the Civil War, some 14,000 Confederate soldiers surrendered at Fort Donelson, Tenn. (Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s victory earned him the nickname “Unconditional Surrender Grant.”)

On this date:
In 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur led a successful raid into Tripoli Harbor to burn the U.S. Navy frigate Philadelphia, which had fallen into the hands of pirates.

In 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was organized in New York City.

In 1918, Lithuania proclaimed its independence, which lasted until World War II (it again declared independence in 1990).

In 1923, the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen’s recently unearthed tomb was unsealed in Egypt by English archaeologist Howard Carter.

In 1945, American troops landed on the island of Corregidor in the Philippines during World War II.

In 1959, Fidel Castro became premier of Cuba after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista.

In 1968, the nation’s first 911 emergency telephone system was inaugurated, in Haleyville, Ala.

In 1977, Janani Luwum, the Anglican archbishop of Uganda, and two other men were killed in what Ugandan authorities said was an automobile accident.

In 1987, John Demjanjuk went on trial in Jerusalem, accused of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a guard at the Treblinka Nazi concentration camp. (Demjanjuk was convicted, but the conviction ended up being overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court.)

In 1996, 11 people were killed in a fiery collision between an Amtrak passenger train and a Maryland commuter train in Silver Spring, Md.

Ten years ago: U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., the chairman of the House committee investigating campaign fund-raising activities, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that his probe would be far broader than originally anticipated.

Five years ago: President Bush, en route to a three-nation tour of Asia, stopped off at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, where he told hundreds of cheering U.S. soldiers that “America will not blink” in the fight against terrorism and Osama bin Laden. Authorities in Noble, Ga., arrested Ray Brent Marsh, who’d been operating a crematory where hundreds of decomposing corpses were found stacked in storage sheds and scattered in the woods behind it. (Marsh later pleaded guilty and is serving a 12-year sentence.) Former Cabinet member and Common Cause founder John W. Gardner died in Stanford, Calif., at age 89.

One year ago: President Bush said he was satisfied with Vice President Dick Cheney’s explanation about his shooting accident; Texas authorities said they had closed their investigation without filing any charges. Rene Preval was declared the winner of Haiti’s presidential election. Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko beat world champion Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland by an unfathomable 27.12 points to win the gold medal in men’s figure skating at the Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Patty Andrews is 89. Kim Jong Il, the president of North Korea, is 65. Actor Jeremy Bulloch is 61. Actor Pete Postlethwaite is 61. Actor William Katt is 56. Actor James Ingram is 51. Actor LeVar Burton is 50. Actor-rapper Ice-T is 49. Actress Lisa Loring is 49. Tennis Hall of Fame player John McEnroe is 48. Rock musician Andy Taylor is 46. Rock musician Taylor Hawkins (Foofighters) is 35. Singer Sam Salter is 29.

Thought for Today: “Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it.” — Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).