A Blast from the Past

By United Press International   |   Jan. 15, 2003 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

Today is Jan. 15.

In 2002, John Walker Lindh, a 20-year-old American seized with the Taliban in Afghanistan, was charged on this date with conspiring to kill U.S. citizens and abetting terrorist groups. He was returned to the United States for trial on Jan. 23 and indicted by a grand jury on Feb. 5. He later pleaded not guilty.

President Nixon called a halt to American military offensives in Vietnam on this date in 1973. It was the beginning of the end of the Vietnam War, which was billed at the time as the first war the United States ever lost.

On this date in 1986, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev proposed that the superpowers eliminate all nuclear weapons by the year 2000.

Ireland became a free nation on this date in 1922. Before that it had been part of the British Empire, as Northern Ireland still is. Today about a third of all the folks in England have some kind of Irish blood and there are many times more Irish ethnics in the United States than in Ireland itself.

The donkey became the symbol of the Democratic Party as a result of a cartoon that appeared in the magazine Harper's on this date in 1870. The man who drew it, Thomas Nast, also came up with the elephant as a symbol for Republicans. Furthermore, he drew the first "Uncle Sam" figure, and our modern day image of Santa Claus is based on a Nast cartoon as well.

Construction of the Pentagon was completed on this day in 1943. It was the world's largest building of its kind. And it was too small. By the time it was finished, the Defense Department needed more office space than could be fit into that one building.

The British Museum opened on this day in 1759. Today you go to the British Museum if you want to see autographed scores by Beethoven and Brahms, or several famous English novels in the original handwriting, or the Rosetta Stone.

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

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