Today is July 17.
The 300-year-old Romanov dynasty ended on this date in 1918 with the murders of Russian Czar Nicholas II and his family. Nicholas had abdicated in 1917 at the beginning of the Russian Revolution; and he, his wife and their five children were imprisoned in the Ural Mountains of Siberia. But local Soviet officials, worried about advancing pro-monarchy forces, ordered the family executed by firing squad. Did Alexis, the heir to the throne, and Anastasia, one of his sisters, survive? To this day, that answer remains inconclusive...
President Clinton was slapped with a subpoena on this date in 1998 as independent counsel Kenneth Starr continued his investigation into allegations of presidential philandering with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton thus became the first sitting U.S. president to be subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury.
TWA Flight 800, just minutes out of New York's JFK Airport and bound for Paris, exploded and crashed off the Long Island coast on this date in 1996. All 230 people aboard were killed. Despite claims by some witnesses that they saw a streak of light just before the explosion -- suggesting the jetliner was taken out by a surface-to-air missile -- an investigation pointed to an electrical malfunction in a fuel tank as the cause of the blast.
After three years of planning, the first U.S.-USSR joint space mission took place on this date in 1975. Three American and two Soviet spacemen linked their Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 spacecraft for historic handshakes 140 miles above the Earth. The capsules remained linked in orbit for 47 hours while the two crews conducted experiments and visited with each other.
Pilot Douglas Corrigan, who had worked as a mechanic 11 years earlier on Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis," wanted his place in the sun before it set on his career, He had flown in his rebuilt plane from California to New York to attempt a trans-Atlantic flight but aviation officials nixed that, saying his plane was too rickety. So, he took off for the return to the West Coast only to get caught up in a cloud bank with a faulty compass and apparently lost his bearings, he said, and 28 hours later landed in Dublin, Ireland. Forever after, he was known as "Wrong Way" Corrigan and relished the celebrity status he had sought so vigorously .
And, the "Happiest Place on Earth," Disneyland -- the first U.S. theme park -- opened in Anaheim, Calif., on this date in 1955.
We now return you to the present, already in progress.