... 1983 (20 years ago today), in a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, with Coretta Scott King and civil rights leaders of many races attending, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that established Martin Luther King Day. (photo credit) A decade earlier, Illinois legislator Harold Washington, who would become Chicago's 1st African-American mayor, had succeeded in making the day a state holiday in Illinois; however, efforts on the national level stalled for many years. Among those opposing the measure was U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), today the GOP nominee for President. As a result of the 1983 U.S. law, the 3d Monday in January now is the only holiday that honors an individual American.
... 1963 (45 years ago today), the military seized power in South Vietnam, killing President Ngo Dinh Diem (below right). Investigating the matter years later, the Church Committee, a mid-1970s congressional group that investigated CIA activities, concluded
that the United States government offered encouragement for the coup, but neither desired nor was involved in the assassinations. Rather, Diem's assassination appears to have been a spontaneous act by Vietnamese generals, engendered by anger at Diem for refusing to resign or put himself in the custody of the leaders of the coup.