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A Blast from the Past

By United Press International   |   July 2, 2002 at 3:20 AM
Today is July 8.


The Liberty Bell rang out at what is now Independence Hall in Philadelphia on this date in 1776 to summon citizens for the first public reading of the new Declaration of Independence. The Continental Congress had adopted the document four days earlier, on July 4.

Also on this date, in 1835, the Liberty Bell cracked -- for the third time -- while being rung during the funeral of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall in Philadelphia.


The exploration of the world continued on this date in 1497, as Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama sailed from Lisbon. His voyage would lead to the discovery of a sea route to India around the southern tip of Africa.


A couple of U.S. military milestones. It was on this date in 1950 that Gen. Douglas MacArthur was designated commander of U.N. forces in Korea. And in 1969, the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam began.


The only leader in the history of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, died at age 82 on this date in 1994. Kim was a Stalinist-style dictator who created a godlike personality cult surrounding himself and his son and heir-apparent, Kim Jong Il. His passing occurred just weeks before an historic summit with the president of South Korea was to have taken place.


And four leaders of the Montana Freemen, on this date in 1998, were convicted in federal court in Billings, Mt., of conspiring to defraud banks. The anti-government, anti-tax group made headlines in 1996 during an 81-day standoff at its ranch.


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

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Today is July 9.


Many consider this event to mark the beginning of the rock 'n' roll music era. On this date in 1955, Bill Haley and the Comets' "Rock Around the Clock" hit No.1 on Billboard magazine's pop singles chart, then known as the "Best Sellers in Stores" chart. Nearly, half a century later, it's still rockin'.


The first Wimbledon tennis tournament was held on this date in 1877 at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club outside London. Twenty-one amateurs showed up to compete in the Gentlemen's Singles tournament, the only event at the first Wimbledon. Women didn't join the field until 1884.


Zachary Taylor, the 12th president of the United States, died suddenly of cholera on this date in 1850 after only 16 months in office. He was succeeded by Millard Fillmore.


The Italian campaign in World War II began on this date in 1943, when American, Canadian and British forces invaded Sicily.


Washington was quite alarmed after new Cuban leader Fidel Castro declared himself a communist. After all, Cuba was just 90 or so miles south of Florida -- too close for comfort. But on this date in 1960, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev threatened to attack the United States with rockets if American forces attempted to oust Cuba's communist government.


On this date in 1992, Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton picked Tennessee's Sen. Al Gore as his running mate.


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

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Today is July 10.


It has been the subject of movies, plays, books and a great deal of discussion. The so-called "Monkey Trial" began on this date in a small Dayton, Tenn., courtroom in 1925 in which John Scopes, a young teacher, was accused of teaching evolution, a state law violation. The widely ballyhooed trial, actually a test case to try to change the law, attracted two of the nation's foremost lawyers for a classic confrontation. William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate and fundamentalist hero, aided the state and legendary defender Clarence Darrow sided with the ACLU in the defense. A circus atmosphere prevailed and crowds got so huge the judge moved the trial outside on the lawn. Darrow thoroughly humiliated Bryan when he called him as the lone defense witness but Scopes was found guilty and fined $100. Though he won, Bryan was a beaten man and five days after the trial ended, on July 26, he lay down for a Sunday nap and never woke up.


Boris Yeltsin was inaugurated on this date in 1991 as the first popularly elected president of the Russian republic -- a first in Russia's 1,000-year history. He had soundly defeated the Communist Party candidate. The death knell for Communism had begun. Later that year, the Soviet Union ceased to be.


Also on this date in 1991, President Bush lifted U.S. trade and investment sanctions against South Africa. The sanctions had been put in place by Congress in 1986 to punish Johannesburg for its policy of racial separation known as apartheid. However, by this time, African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela had been released from prison and South Africa was taking steps to do away with apartheid.


Telstar was the first privately owned telecommunications satellite (AT&T) and, on this date in 1962, it began relaying TV pictures across the Atlantic Ocean between the United States and Europe.


Courtroom historical notes:

An Alaskan appeals court overturned the conviction of former Exxon Valdez Capt. Joseph Hazelwood on this date in 1992, clearing him of criminal responsibility in connection with the 1989 massive oil spill in Prince William Sound. It had been the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Also in 1992, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was sentenced to 40 years in prison for cocaine racketeering. The United States had invaded Panama in Dec. 1989 to capture Noriega and bring him to Miami, where he was put on trial.

And the defense in the O.J. Simpson murder trial opened its case on this date in 1995. You know how that turned out.


Remember the new Coke? It was on this date in 1985 that Coca-Cola -- besieged by consumers dissatisfied with the new Coke introduced just three months earlier -- dusted off the old formula and dubbed it "Coke Classic." Can you even find Coke II on store shelves these days?


And in 1999, the U.S. team won the Women's World Cup in soccer, defeating China in the final on penalty kicks.


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

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Today is July 11.


It was on this date back in 1804 that the most prominent duel ever fought in the United States took place. Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed his hated political enemy, Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the treasury and architect of the nation's political economy, in an "affair of honor" in Weehawken, N.J. Though charged with murder and discredited publicly, Burr returned to Washington and served out his term, immune from prosecution.


Chicken Little was right. It was on this date in 1979 that America's Skylab space station -- launched May 14, 1973 -- fell to earth, scattering tons of debris across the Indian Ocean and Australian desert. It had been calculated that the chances of being hit by a piece of Skylab was one in 152, but there were no known casualties.


Two explosions sank the 160-ft. Rainbow Warrior, flagship of the Greenpeace environmental activist group, in Auckland, New Zealand, on this date in 1985. A photographer aboard the ship was killed. The blasts caused an international uproar. The Rainbow Warrior had been scheduled to take part in protests against French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, and France later acknowledged responsibility in the incident.


World War II hero Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate, with Richard Nixon as his running mate, on this date in 1952. They were elected that November.


20 years after the overthrow of the South Vietnam government to invading communist forces from the North, the United States resumed diplomatic relations with Vietnam on this date in 1995.


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

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Today is July 12.


Many U.S. cities throughout the Midwest and Northeast set record high temperatures during July 1995 as the result of a heat wave that pushed the mercury into the 90s and 100s for days on end. On this date in 1995, authorities announced that at least 800 people had died as a result of the heat. Many were elderly people who had been unable or unwilling to air condition their homes.


It was on this date in 1972 that Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., was nominated as the Democratic candidate for president. He lost that November to Republican incumbent Richard Nixon.

And on this date in 1984, Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale named Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, D-N.Y., as his running mate. She was the first woman to share a major U.S. political party's presidential ticket.


Congress authorized a new award, the U.S. Medal of Honor, on this date in 1862. The award is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor.


The U.S. minimum wage was set at 40 cents an hour on this date in 1933.


And it was on this date in 1996 that details surfaced on the divorce of Britain's Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Among other things, she kept the princess title but not the title of Her Royal Highness, and received about $25 million in a lump sum -- followed by an income of $600,000 a year.


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

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Today is July 13.


Democrats chose Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts as their nominee for president on this day in 1960, picking him over Texas Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson who accepted the No. 2 spot on the ticket. Four months later, Kennedy defeated Republican Richard Nixon by a fraction of a point in one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history.


Where were you when the lights went out? It was on this date in 1977 that a state of emergency was declared in New York City when the entire area suffered a 25-hour power outage.


Rioting broke out in New York City on this date in 1863, during the Civil War, in response to the Federal Conscription Act. More than 1,000 people were killed.


Guglielmo Marconi was awarded a patent for wireless telegraphy, what became known as "radio," on this date in 1898.


If it wasn't for radio, the more than 50 rock stars who took part in "Live Aid" on this date in 1985 might never have gotten their start in show biz. Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof organized the shows at London's Wembly Stadium and Philadelphia's Kennedy Stadium, which lasted 17 hours and were seen by an estimated 1.5 billion television viewers. Performers included Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Madonna, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney. The concerts raised millions of dollars for African famine relief.


And as the heat wave of 1995 continued, it was on this date that the temperature in Chicago reached an all-time high of 106 degrees.


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

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Today is July 14.


The French Revolution began on this date in 1789 when a mob stormed the Bastille prison in Paris, freeing some prisoners and killing some defenders. The event -- which forced King Louis XVI to sign a new constitution, guaranteeing certain human rights -- is now celebrated as a national holiday in France known as "Bastille Day."


Four years later, in 1793, Jean Paul Marat, one of the most outspoken leaders of the French Revolution, is stabbed to death in his bath by Charlotte Corday, a Royalist sympathizer.


The German government, on this date in 1933, officially suppressed all political parties except the Nazis.


Robert Goddard was granted the first patent for a liquid-fueled rocket design on this date in 1914.


Terror gripped Chicago on this date in 1966 when eight student nurses were found brutally slain in a townhouse on the city's South Side. A ninth woman had escaped by hiding under a bed. A drifter, Richard Speck, was later was convicted in the killings.


On this date in 1998, moving into uncharted waters, rindependent counsel Kenneth Starr subpoenaed a number of Secret Service agents to testify before a grand jury investigating President Clinton's alleged affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky


And on this date in 1999, the European Union ended its 3-year ban on British beef imports. The ban had been prompted by fears of meat being contaminated with "mad cow disease."


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

© 2002 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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