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A Blast From The Past

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International   |   Nov. 20, 2001 at 4:45 AM   |   Comments

Today is Nov. 20.


The U.S. World War II offensive against Japan in the Central Pacific, known as Operation Galvanic, began on this date in 1943 with the Battle of Tarawa-Makin. U.S. forces attacked the heavily fortified Gilbert Islands. It took them eight days to oust the Japanese invaders, at a cost of 1,000 American and 4,700 Japanese lives.

Prior to this battle, censorship had kept the U.S. public in the dark about the human cost of war, but casualty figures and photographs from this battle appalled Americans.


Actor-turned-politician Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination on this date in 1975. He would lose to incumbent Gerald Ford, who then was defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter in November 1976. Reagan would have more success four years later.

It was President Reagan who announced on this date in 1982 that U.S. Marines would go to Lebanon to assist in the evacuation of PLO fighters. The Marines were pulled out in October 1983 after 240 of them were killed in a terrorist bombing in Beirut.


The Nuremberg Trials began on this day in 1945. The International War Crimes Tribunal heard evidence against 24 German leaders, including military leaders, civilian officials, and judges. Many were found guilty and sentenced to death.


It was on this date in 1789 that New Jersey became the first state to ratify 10 of the 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution proposed by Congress two months earlier. These 10 amendments came to be known as the Bill of Rights.


Edward I was proclaimed King of England on this date in 1272. Edward was called the English Justinian because of his legal reforms.


Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, the future Queen Elizabeth II of England, wed Philip Mountbatten on this date in 1947. Philip, a former prince of Greece, had become a British citizen nine months earlier and was given the title Duke of Edinburgh.


British Prime Minister Thatcher failed to win a 65-percent majority in a Conservative Party vote on this day in 1990, forcing a runoff against Michael Heseltine.

And on this day in 1992, fire erupted at Windsor Castle -- Queen Elizabeth's official residence west of London -- causing much damage. The queen and Prince Andrew pitched in to help save priceless artworks housed in the fortress.


And Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain died on this day in 1975. Franco had ruled Spain since 1939. His final illness had lasted so long -- with so many false alarms -- that "Saturday Night Live's" Chevy Chase got laughs every Saturday night by reporting: "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead."


We now return you to the present, already in progress.

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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