Today is Wednesday, March 21, the 81st day of 2012 with 286 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Neptune and Saturn. The evening stars are Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus and Venus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Aries. They include composer Johann Sebastian Bach in 1685; Mexican revolutionary and president Benito Juarez in 1806; Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1839; theatrical impresario Florenz Ziegfeld in 1867; English theatrical director Peter Brook in 1925 (age 87); musician Eddie Money in 1949 (63); and actors James Coco in 1930, Al Freeman Jr. in 1934 (age 78), Timothy Dalton in 1946 (age 66), Gary Oldman in 1958 (age 54) and Matthew Broderick and Rosie O’Donnell, both in 1962 (age 50).
On this date in history:
In 1413, Henry V was crowned king of England.
In 1617, Pocahontas died in England at about age 22. Three years earlier, she converted to Christianity, took the name Rebecca and married Englishman John Rolfe.
In 1790, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia became the first U.S. secretary of state.
In 1857, 100,000 people were killed in an earthquake in Tokyo.
In 1918, U.S. and German soldiers fought the World War I battle of the Somme.
In 1945, 7,000 Allied planes dropped more than 12,000 tons of explosives on Germany during a single World War II daytime bombing raid.
In 1952, Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed organized the first rock ‘n’ roll concert — the Moondog Coronation Ball.
In 1960, police opened fire on a group of unarmed black South African demonstrators in the black township of Sharpeville, near Johannesburg, killing 69 people and wounding 180.
In 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev pledged that Russia would cooperate with the United States in peaceful exploration of space. The joint American-Soviet Soyuz space mission was conducted in July 1975.
In 1963, the federal prison on San Francisco Bay’s Alcatraz Island was closed.
In 1965, more than 3,000 civil rights demonstrators, led by Martin Luther King Jr., began a four-day march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala., to demand federal protection of voting rights.
In 1984, the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk collided with a nuclear-powered Soviet submarine in the Sea of Japan.
In 1993, Nicaraguan rebels ended their 13-day seizure of the Nicaraguan Embassy, freeing the last 11 hostages under a deal that gave them asylum in the Dominican Republic.
In 1999, balloonists Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones landed near Cairo after becoming the first to circle the globe by balloon.
In 2002, Pope John Paul II, referring to the sexual abuse scandal that had shaken the Roman Catholic clergy, said in a letter that “a dark shadow of suspicion” had fallen over all priests because of the behavior of those who had succumbed to “the most grievous forms” of evil.
In 2003, some 1,300 missiles struck Baghdad after dark in part of a “shock-and-awe” offensive as journalists imbedded with the troops reported from the battleground. Meanwhile, U.S. troops seized major oil fields near Basra.
Also in 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $2.2 trillion budget embracing President George W. Bush‘s tax-cutting plan.
In 2005, a 17-year-old youth at the northern Minnesota Indian Reservation of Red Lake killed nine people, wounded 12 others and killed himself.
In 2006, about 100 armed Iraqi insurgents stormed a jail north of Baghdad, killing 18 policemen and freeing 10 prisoners. Ten of the attackers were killed.
In 2010, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to budge from plans to build new housing units in East Jerusalem despite intense U.S. pressure to do so.
Also in 2010, the first eruption of a volcano in southern Iceland since the 1820s forced the evacuation of 450 people but there were no reports of injuries or major property damage.
Also in 2011, surgeons at a Boston hospital said they had performed the first full face transplant in the United States on a Texas man burned in a 2008 electrical accident.
A thought for the day: Thomas Jefferson advised, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”