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April 13, 2014

Today in History for Sunday, April 13, 2014

MADISON, Fla. — Highlight in History

On April 13, 1964, Sidney Poitier became the first black performer in a leading role to win an Academy Award for his performance in “Lilies of the Field.” (Patricia Neal was named best actress for “Hud”; best picture went to “Tom Jones.”)

On this date

In 1861, at the start of the Civil War, Fort Sumter in South Carolina fell to Confederate forces.

In 1912, the Royal Flying Corps, a predecessor of Britain’s Royal Air Force, was created.

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., on the 200th anniversary of the third American president’s birth. Radio Berlin announced the discovery of thousands of graves of massacred Polish officers in Russia’s Katyn Forest; the Nazis blamed the killings on the Soviets, who in turn blamed the Nazis. (Post-Soviet Russia has acknowledged the massacre was carried out by Josef Stalin’s secret police.)

In 1958, Van Cliburn of the United States won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition for piano in Moscow; Russian Valery Klimov won the violin competition.

In 1970, Apollo 13, four-fifths of the way to the moon, was crippled when a tank containing liquid oxygen burst. (The astronauts managed to return safely.)

In 1974, NASA launched Westar 1, America’s first commercial communications satellite, for Western Union.

In 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Great Synagogue of Rome in the first recorded papal visit of its kind to a Jewish house of worship.

In 1992, the Great Chicago Flood took place as the city’s century-old tunnel system and adjacent basements filled with water from the Chicago River.

Ten years ago

Conceding a couple of “tough weeks in Iraq,” President George W. Bush signaled he was ready to put more American troops on the front lines and use decisive force if necessary to restore order despite “gut-wrenching” televised images of fallen Americans. Barry Bonds hit his 661st homer, passing Willie Mays to take sole possession of third place on baseball’s career list. Swimmer Michael Phelps won the 2003 Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete.

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