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Today is Martin Luther King’s Birthday, the federal holiday that honors the assassinated civil rights leader.

Well, not everywhere.

All 50 states celebrate the public holiday on the third Monday in January, but not all states, cities and towns dedicate it solely to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Some package it as a broader celebration of civil rights.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech was born of pain and suffering. Yet its remarkable optimism provided much needed solace, hope and inspiration to blacks and others disenfranchised more than half a century ago and remains relevant today.

On the annual holiday honoring him, Rev. King’s dream of peace, unity and justice still resonates in a nation too often defined by what divides us rather than what unites us.

That’s why in Wilkinsburg, as elsewhere across the nation today, a prayer vigil for peace for “all faiths, all races, all ages” will be held at the Wilkinsburg Train Station at noon, sponsored by the Wilkinsburg Sanctuary Project for Peace.

For Pastor Janet Hellner-Burris of the Christian Church of Wilkinsburg, coordinator of the sanctuary project, the dream lives on even in a nation some refer to as the Divided States of America.


Highlights of Today in History: Start of Operation Desert Storm, Space Shuttle Columbia lifts off, Prohibition takes effect, Shah of Iran flees into exile, musical “Hello Dolly” opens.


Start of Operation Desert Storm, as an American-led coalition begins bombing targets in Iraq and Kuwait.

It happens after Saddam Hussein fails to meet a U.N. deadline on withdrawing from Kuwait. President George H.W. Bush:


Space Shuttle Columbia lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida – on what turns out to be its final flight.

The mission ends in tragedy when the shuttle disintegrates on re-entry – with all of its crew, lost.


Prohibition takes effect across the United States – barring the sale, manufacture, and transport of alcholic beverages.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution establishing Prohibition is repealed more than a decade later.


Facing growing unrest, the Shah of Iran flees into exile, never to return.

What soon follows: an Islamic fundamentalist regime, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, replaces the Shah.

Months later, dozens of Americans are taken hostage, when the U.S. Embassy is seized in Iran’s capital, Tehran.

And, 1964:

In New York, the musical “Hello Dolly” – starring Carol Channing – opens on Broadway.

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