Today is Tuesday, April 12, the 102nd day of 2011. There are 263 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began as Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. (The Union troops holding the fort surrendered the following day.)
On this date:
In 1606, England's King James I decreed the design of the original Union Flag, which combined the flags of England and Scotland.
In 1811, fur traders employed by John Jacob Astor began building Fort Astoria in present-day Oregon.
In 1877, the catcher's mask was first used in a baseball game, by James Tyng of Harvard in a game against the Lynn Live Oaks.
In 1934, "Tender Is the Night," by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was first published in book form after being serialized in Scribner's Magazine.
In 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Ga., at age 63; he was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman.
In 1955, the Salk vaccine against polio was declared safe and effective.
In 1960, Candlestick Park in San Francisco first opened, with Vice President Richard Nixon throwing the ceremonial first pitch. (The San Francisco Giants went on to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1.)
In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space, orbiting the earth once before making a safe landing.
In 1981, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight. Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis died in Las Vegas, Nev., at age 66.
In 1985, Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, became the first sitting member of Congress to fly in space as the shuttle Discovery lifted off.
Ten years ago: The 24 crew members of a U.S. spy plane arrived in Hawaii after being held for 11 days in China. Cincinnati Mayor Charles Luken declared a state of emergency amid the worst outbreak of racial violence in the city since the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. The Philippine military rescued U.S. hostage Jeffrey Schilling from Muslim rebels who had threatened to behead him.
Five years ago: Jurors in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial listened to a recording of shouts and cries in the cockpit as desperate passengers twice charged panicked hijackers during the final half hour of doomed United Flight 93 on 9/11. The Rev. William Sloane Coffin, a former Yale chaplain known for Vietnam-era peace activism, died in Strafford, Vt., at age 81. Indian movie star Rajkumar died in Bangalore at age 77.
One year ago: President Barack Obama opened a 47-nation nuclear summit in Washington, boosted by Ukraine's announcement that it will give up its weapons-grade uranium. The Bristol Herald Courier won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for uncovering a scandal in which Virginia landowners were deprived of millions in natural gas royalties. The musical "Next to Normal" won the Pulitzer for drama; Paul Harding's "Tinkers" was the surprise fiction winner.
Today's Birthdays: Country singer Ned Miller is 86. Actress Jane Withers is 85. Opera singer Montserrat Caballe is 78. Actor Charles Napier is 75. Playwright Alan Ayckbourn is 72. Jazz musician Herbie Hancock is 71. Actor Frank Bank ("Leave It to Beaver") is 69. Rock singer John Kay (Steppenwolf) is 67. Actor Ed O'Neill is 65. Author Tom Clancy is 64. Actor Dan Lauria is 64. Talk show host David Letterman is 64. Author Scott Turow is 62. Singer David Cassidy is 61. Actor-playwright Tom Noonan is 60. Rhythm-and-blues singer JD Nicholas (The Commodores) is 59. Singer Pat Travers is 57. Actor Andy Garcia is 55. Movie director Walter Salles is 55. Country singer Vince Gill is 54. Actress Suzzanne Douglas is 54. Rock musician Will Sergeant (Echo & the Bunnymen) is 53. Rock singer Art Alexakis (Everclear) is 49. Country singer Deryl Dodd is 47. Folk-pop singer Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) is 47. Actress Alicia Coppola is 43. Rock singer Nicholas Hexum (311) is 41. Actor Nicholas Brendon is 40. Actress Shannen Doherty is 40. Actress Marley Shelton is 37. Actress Jordana Spiro is 34. Rock musician Guy Berryman (Coldplay) is 33. Actress Claire Danes is 32. Actress Jennifer Morrison is 32. Contemporary Christian musician Joe Rickard (Red) is 24. Rock singer-musician Brendon Urie (Panic! at the Disco) is 24. Actress Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement") is 17.
Thought for Today: "Future years will never know the seething hell and the black infernal background of countless minor scenes and interiors, (not the official surface courteousness of the Generals, not the few great battles) of the Secession war; and it is best they should not -- the real war will never get in the books." -- Walt Whitman, American author and poet (1819-1892).
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)