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Today in History — April 4

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

Today is Wednesday, April 4, the 94th day of 2007. There are 271 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 39, was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.

On this date:
In 1818, Congress decided the U.S. flag would consist of 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state of the Union.

In 1841, President William Henry Harrison succumbed to pneumonia one month after his inaugural, becoming the first U.S. chief executive to die in office.

In 1850, the city of Los Angeles was incorporated.

In 1887, Susanna Madora Salter became the first woman elected mayor of an American community: Argonia, Kan.

In 1902, British financier Cecil Rhodes left $10 million in his will to provide scholarships for Americans, British colonists and Germans at Oxford University.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. troops on Okinawa encountered the first significant resistance from Japanese forces at the Machinato Line.

In 1949, 12 nations, including the U.S., signed the North Atlantic Treaty.

In 1975, more than 130 people, most of them children, were killed when a U.S. Air Force transport plane evacuating Vietnamese orphans crashed shortly after takeoff from Saigon.

In 1981, Henry Cisneros became the first Mexican-American elected mayor of a major U.S. city: San Antonio.

In 1983, the space shuttle Challenger roared into orbit on its maiden voyage.

Ten years ago: Space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on what was supposed to have been a 16-day mission — however, a defective power generator forced the shuttle’s return four days later.

Five years ago: President Bush urged Israel to pull its troops back from Palestinian cities and dismissed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as a failed leader who had “betrayed the hopes of his people.” Bush ordered Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region to seek a cease-fire. Two teenagers were sentenced to long prison terms in the murders of Dartmouth College professors Half and Susanne Zantop. (Robert Tulloch received life without parole; James Parker was sentenced to 25 years to life as an accomplice.)

One year ago: The Iraq tribunal announced new criminal charges against Saddam Hussein and six others, accusing them of genocide and crimes against humanity stemming from a 1980s crackdown against Kurds. Denis Donaldson, a former Sinn Fein official recently exposed as a British spy, was found fatally shot at his home in County Donegal, Ireland. Maryland beat Duke, 78-75, in overtime to win its first NCAA women’s basketball title.

Today’s Birthdays: Author-poet Maya Angelou is 79. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) is 75. Recording executive Clive Davis is 75. Bandleader Hugh Masekela is 68. Author Kitty Kelley is 65. Actor Craig T. Nelson is 63. Actor Walter Charles is 62. Actress Caroline McWilliams is 62. Actress Christine Lahti is 57. Country singer Steve Gatlin (The Gatlin Brothers) is 56. Writer-producer David E. Kelley is 51. Actor Phil Morris is 48. Actress Lorraine Toussaint is 47. Actor Hugo Weaving is 47. Rock musician Craig Adams (The Cult) is 45. Actor David Cross is 43. Actor Robert Downey Jr. is 42. Actress Nancy McKeon is 41. Actor Barry Pepper is 37. Country singer Clay Davidson is 36. Singer Jill Scott is 35. Rock musician Magnus Sveningsson (The Cardigans) is 35. Magician David Blaine is 34. Singer Kelly Price is 34. Rhythm-and-blues singer Andre Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 33. Actor James Roday is 31. Actor Heath Ledger is 28. Actress Natasha Lyonne is 28. Actress Jamie Lynn Spears is 16.

Thought for Today: “You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea.” — Medgar Evers, American civil rights activist (1926-1963).