Today in History - Wednesday Edition | NBC 10 Philadelphia
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Today in History - Wednesday Edition

Today is Wednesday, Sept. 21, the 265th day of 2016. There are 101 days left in the year.

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    American hikers, including Montgomery County's Josh Fattal (right) were jailed in Iran.

    Today's Highlight in History:

    On Sept. 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages a day after saying the law should not be used as an excuse for discrimination, violence or intimidation against gays and lesbians. (Although never formally repealed, DoMA was effectively overturned by U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2013 and 2015.)

    On this date:

    In 1792, the French National Convention voted to abolish the monarchy.

    In 1866, English novelist H.G. Wells was born in Bromley, Kent.

    In 1897, the New York Sun ran its famous editorial, written anonymously by Francis P. Church, which declared, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

    In 1925, the Rudolf Friml operetta "The Vagabond King" opened on Broadway.

    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 1957, Norway's King Haakon VII died in Oslo at age 85. The legal mystery-drama "Perry Mason," starring Raymond Burr, premiered on CBS-TV.

    In 1964, Malta gained independence from Britain.

    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 1976
    , Orlando Letelier, onetime foreign minister to Chilean President Salvador Allende, was killed when a bomb exploded in his car in Washington D.C. (The bombing, which also killed Letelier's assistant, Ronni Moffitt, was blamed on Chile's secret police.)

    In 1989, Hurricane Hugo crashed into Charleston, South Carolina (the storm was blamed for 56 deaths in the Caribbean and 29 in the United States). Twenty-one students in Alton, Texas, died when their school bus, hit by a soft-drink delivery truck, careened into a water-filled pit.

    In 1996, John F. Kennedy Jr. married Carolyn Bessette in a secret ceremony on Cumberland Island, Georgia. The board of all-male Virginia Military Institute voted to admit women.

    Ten years ago: The Bush White House and rebellious Senate Republicans, including John McCain of Arizona, 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 recommended that all Americans ages 13 to 64 be routinely tested for HIV.

    Five years ago: Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, two Americans jailed in Iran as spies, left Tehran for the Gulf state of Oman, closing a high-profile drama that brought more than two years of hope and heartbreak for their families. The state of Texas executed Lawrence Russell Brewer for his role in the gruesome dragging death of James Byrd Jr. The state of Georgia executed Troy Davis, who used his last words to declare his innocence in the killing of police officer Mark MacPhail. Alternative rock group R.E.M. announced on its website that it had "decided to call it a day as a band."

    One year ago: Pope Francis traveled to Cuba's fourth-largest city, Holguin, where he celebrated a Mass marking the anniversary of the day he decided as a teenager to become a priest by pressing a subtle message to Cubans: Overcome ideological preconceptions and be willing to change. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker abandoned his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. A federal judge in Albany, Georgia, sentenced former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell to 28 years in prison for his role in a deadly 2008-9 salmonella outbreak blamed for nine deaths.

    Today's Birthdays: Poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen is 82. Author-comedian Fannie Flagg is 75. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer is 73. Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is 72. Musician Don Felder is 69. Author Stephen King is 69. Basketball Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore is 67. Actor-comedian Bill Murray is 66. Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye is 65. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is 59. Movie producer-writer Ethan Coen is 59. Actor-comedian Dave Coulier is 57. Actor David James Elliott is 56. Actress Serena Scott-Thomas is 55. Actress Nancy Travis is 55. Actor Rob Morrow is 54. Retired MLB All-Star Cecil Fielder is 53. Actress Cheryl Hines is 51. Country singer Faith Hill is 49. Rock musician Tyler Stewart (Barenaked Ladies) is 49. Country singer Ronna Reeves is 48. Actress-talk show host Ricki Lake is 48. Rapper Dave (De La Soul) is 48. Actor Rob Benedict is 46. Actor James Lesure is 45. Actor Alfonso Ribeiro is 45. Actor Luke Wilson is 45. Actor Paulo Costanzo is 38. Actor Bradford Anderson is 37. Actress Autumn Reeser is 36. TV personality Nicole Richie is 35. Actress Maggie Grace is 33. Actor Joseph Mazzello is 33. Actress Ahna O'Reilly is 32. Rapper Wale is 32. Actor Ryan Guzman is 29. Actors Lorenzo and Nikolas Brino are 18.

    Thought for Today: "The crisis of yesterday is the joke of tomorrow." — H.G. Wells, English author (1866-1946).