Today is Wednesday, Sept. 21, the 264th day of 2011. There are 101 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Sept. 21, 1897, the New York Sun ran its famous editorial, written anonymously by Francis P. Church, that responded to a letter from 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon asking whether Santa Claus really existed. Church wrote, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy."
On this date:
In 1792, the French National Convention voted to abolish the monarchy.
In 1893, one of America's first horseless carriages was taken for a short test drive in Springfield, Mass., by Frank Duryea, who had designed the vehicle with his brother, Charles.
In 1937, "The Hobbit," by J.R.R. Tolkien, was first published.
In 1938, a hurricane struck parts of New York and New England, causing widespread damage and claiming some 700 lives.
In 1948, Milton Berle made his debut as permanent host of "The Texaco Star Theater" on NBC-TV.
In 1961, the first Boeing CH-47 Chinook military helicopter made its first hovering flight.
In 1970, "NFL Monday Night Football" made its debut on ABC-TV as the Cleveland Browns defeated the visiting New York Jets, 31-21.
In 1981, the Senate unanimously confirmed the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor to become the first female justice on the Supreme Court. Belize attained full independence from Britain.
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo crashed into Charleston, S.C. Twenty-one students in Alton, Texas, died when their school bus, involved in a collision with a soft-drink delivery truck, careened into a water-filled pit.
In 1991, an 18-hour hostage drama ended in Sandy, Utah, as Richard L. Worthington, who'd killed a nurse and seized control of a hospital maternity ward, finally freed nine captives, including a baby who was born during the siege. (Worthington committed suicide in prison in 1993.) Armenians voted overwhelmingly to declare their independence from the Soviet Union.
Ten years ago: Congress again opened the federal coffers to those harmed by terrorism, providing $15 billion to the airline industry, which was suffering mounting economic losses since the Sept. 11 attacks. Hollywood's finest paid tribute to real-life heroes during a telethon for victims of the terrorist attacks that was carried on more than 30 networks.
Five years ago: The White House and rebellious Senate Republicans announced agreement on rules for the interrogation and trial of suspects in the war on terror. Space shuttle Atlantis and its six astronauts safely returned from a 12-day mission to install a big new piece of the orbiting outpost. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would recommend all Americans ages 13 to 64 be routinely tested for HIV.
One year ago: The mayor and ex-city manager of the Los Angeles suburb of Bell were among eight current and former city officials arrested in a corruption scandal that authorities said cost the blue-collar city more than $5.5 million in excessive salaries and illegal personal loans. Two men filed a lawsuit accusing Atlanta megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long of coercing them into sexual relationships when they were teenage members of his congregation. (Long, who denied the allegations, later reached out-of-court settlements with them and two other men.)
Today's Birthdays: Actor Karl Slover ("The Wizard of Oz") is 93. Actor Larry Hagman is 80. Poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen is 77. Author-comedian Fannie Flagg is 70. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer is 68. Musician Don Felder is 64. Author Stephen King is 64. Basketball Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore is 62. Actor-comedian Bill Murray is 61. Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye is 60. Rock musician Philthy Animal is 57. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is 54. Movie producer-writer Ethan Coen is 54. Actor-comedian Dave Coulier is 52. Actor David James Elliott is 51. Actress Serena Scott-Thomas is 50. Actress Nancy Travis is 50. Actor Rob Morrow is 49. Retired MLB All-Star Cecil Fielder is 48. Actress Cheryl Hines is 46. Country singer Faith Hill is 44. Rock musician Tyler Stewart (Barenaked Ladies) is 44. Country singer Ronna Reeves is 43. Actress-talk show host Ricki Lake is 43. Rapper Dave (De La Soul) is 43. Actor Rob Benedict is 41. Actor James Lesure is 40. Actor Alfonso Ribeiro is 40. Actor Luke Wilson is 40. Actor Paulo Costanzo is 33. Actress Autumn Reeser is 31. TV personality Nicole Richie is 30. Actress Maggie Grace is 28. Actor Joseph Mazzello is 28. Rapper Wale is 27. Actors Lorenzo and Nikolas Brino ("7th Heaven") are 13.
Thought for Today: "The only true measure of success is the ratio between what we might have done and what we might have been on the one hand, and the thing we have made and the things we have made of ourselves on the other." -- H.G. Wells, English author (born this date in 1866, died 1946.)