► Today is Wednesday, Sept. 14, the 257th day of 2011. There are 108 days left in the year. ► Today’s birthdays: Actress Zoe Caldwell is 78. Feminist author Kate Millett is 77. Actor Walter Koenig is 75. Basketball Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown is 71. Singer-actress Joey Heatherton is 67. Actor Sam Neill is 64. Singer Jon “Bowzer’’ Bauman (Sha Na Na) is 64. Rock musician Ed King is 62. Actor Robert Wisdom is 58. Rock musician Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) is 56. Country singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman is 55. Actress Mary Crosby is 52. Singer Morten Harket (a-ha) is 52. Country singer John Berry is 52. Actress Melissa Leo is 51. Actress Faith Ford is 47. Actor Jamie Kaler is 47. Actress Michelle Stafford is 46. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is 46. Rock musician Mike Cooley (Drive-By Truckers) is 45. Actor Dan Cortese is 44. Contemporary Christian singer Mark Hall is 42. Actor-writer-director-producer Tyler Perry is 42. Actor Ben Garant is 41. Rock musician Craig Montoya is 41. Actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley is 40. Rapper Nas is 38. Actor Austin Basis is 35. Country singer Danielle Peck is 33. Pop singer Ayo is 31. Actor Sebastian Sozzi is 29. Actor Adam Lamberg is 27. Actor-singer Logan Henderson is 22. ► In 1321, Italian poet Dante Alighieri died in Ravenna; he was believed to have been 56. ► In 1814, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write a poem after witnessing how the American flag continued to fly over Maryland’s Fort McHenry after a night of British bombardment during the War of 1812; that poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry,’’ later became the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner.’’ ► In 1861, the first naval engagement of the Civil War took place as the USS Colorado attacked and sank the Confederate private schooner Judah off Pensacola, Fla. ► In 1901, President McKinley died in Buffalo of gunshot wounds inflicted by an assassin. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt succeeded him. ► In 1927, modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan died in Nice, France, when her scarf became entangled in a wheel of the sports car she was riding in. ► In 1941, Vermont passed a resolution enabling its servicemen to receive wartime bonuses by declaring the US to be in a state of armed conflict, giving rise to headlines that Vermont had “declared war on Germany.’’ ► In 1964, Pope Paul VI opened the third session of the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, also known as “Vatican II.’’ (The session closed two months later.) ► In 1982, Princess Grace of Monaco, formerly actress Grace Kelly, died at 52 of injuries from a car crash the day before; Lebanon’s president-elect, Bashir Gemayel, was killed by a bomb. ► In 1986, President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, appeared together on radio and television to appeal for a “national crusade’’ against drug abuse. ► In 1991, the government of South Africa, the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party signed a national peace pact. ► In 2001, patriotism mixed with prayer as Americans packed churches and clogged public squares on a day of remembrance for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. President George W. Bush prayed with his Cabinet and attended services at Washington National Cathedral, then flew to New York, where he waded into the ruins of the World Trade Center and addressed rescue workers in a flag-waving, bullhorn-wielding show of resolve. Officials announced the Pentagon would call up as many as 50,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve. ► In 2006, authorities advised people to avoid eating bagged fresh spinach, the suspected (later confirmed) source of an outbreak of E. coli illnesses that killed three people. Three men became the first rabbis ordained in Germany since World War II. Actor-bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, husband of Jayne Mansfield and father of Mariska Hargitay, died in Los Angeles at 80. ► In 2010, Sarah Shourd, one of three American hikers detained by Iran, was freed on $500,000 bail after 410 days in prison. Reggie Bush announced he was forfeiting his 2005 Heisman title, citing a scandal over improper benefits while he was a star running back at Southern California; it was the first time college football’s top award had been relinquished by a recipient. Dodge Morgan, who became the first American to sail around the world without stopping in 1986, died in Boston at 78.