Today is Thursday, Sept. 16, the 260th day of 2004. There are 106 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Sept. 16, 1919, the American Legion was incorporated by an act of Congress.

On this date:

In 1638, France's King Louis IV was born.

In 1810, Mexico began its revolt against Spanish rule.

In 1893, hundreds of thousands of settlers swarmed onto a section of land in Oklahoma known as the "Cherokee Strip."

In 1940, President Roosevelt signed into law the Selective Training and Service Act, which set up the first peacetime military draft in U.S. history.

In 1940, Samuel T. Rayburn of Texas was elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1953, "The Robe," the first movie presented in the widescreen process CinemaScope, had its world premiere at the Roxy Theater in New York.

In 1966, the Metropolitan Opera opened its new opera house at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

In 1974, President Ford announced a conditional amnesty program for Vietnam war deserters and draft-evaders.

In 1977, Maria Callas, the American-born prima donna famed for her lyric soprano and fiery temperament, died in Paris at age 53.

In 1982, the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children by Lebanese Christian militiamen began in west Beirut's Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps.

Ten years ago: A federal jury ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion in punitive damages to commercial fishermen, Alaska natives, property owners and others harmed in the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. Two astronauts from the space shuttle Discovery went on the first untethered spacewalk in 10 years.

Five years ago: Hurricane Floyd hit the Carolinas and began making its way up the East Coast, damaging 12,000 homes and claiming more than 50 lives even after it weakened to a tropical storm. In southern Russia, an explosion described by authorities as the fourth massive terrorist attack in two weeks demolished an apartment building, killing at least 18 people.

One year ago: North Carolina Sen. John Edwards formally launched his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. Actor-singer Sheb Wooley died in Nashville, Tenn., at age 82.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Janis Paige is 82. Actress Lauren Bacall is 80. Blues singer B.B. King is 79. Clergyman-author Robert H. Schuller is 78. Actor Peter Falk is 77. Actress Linda Miller is 62. Rhythm and blues singer Betty Kelly (Martha & the Vandellas) is 60. Musician Kenny Jones (Small Faces; Faces; The Who) is 56. Actress Susan Ruttan is 56. Actor Ed Begley Jr. is 55. Country singer David Bellamy (The Bellamy Brothers) is 54. Country singer-songwriter Phil Lee is 53. Rock musician Ron Blair (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) is 52. Jazz musician Earl Klugh is 51. Singer Frank Reed (The Chi-Lites) is 50. TV personality Mark McEwen is 50. Actor Mickey Rourke is 48. Magician David Copperfield is 48. Country singer-songwriter Terry McBride is 46. Actress Jayne Brook is 42. Singer Richard Marx is 41. Comedian Molly Shannon is 40. Singer Marc Anthony is 35. Singer Musiq is 27. Actress Alexis Bledel is 23. Actress Madeline Zima is 19. Actress Kyla Pratt is 18.

Thought for Today: "Stoicism is the wisdom of madness and cynicism the madness of wisdom." - Bergen Evans, American lexicographer (1904-1978).


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