A Blast from the Past

By United Press International   |   March 24, 2003 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

Today is March 24.

It was on this date in 1999 that NATO began bombing targets in Yugoslavia after many weeks of unsuccessful negotiations with leader Slobodan Milosevic over the treatment of ethnic Albanians in the rebellious province of Kosovo. In response, Serbian troops forced hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians to flee Kosovo for neighboring Albania -- causing a refugee nightmare. The air war lasted almost three months until Serb forces withdrew from Kosovo.

Horror at an Arkansas school on this date in 1998 -- as students and teachers poured out of the Westside Middle School in Jonesboro after someone pulled the fire alarm, bullets were fired from the nearby woods. Four girls and a teacher were killed. The culprits -- two boys, ages 11 and 13.

The largest oil tanker spill in U.S. history took place on this date in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in the Gulf of Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons into one of nature's richest habitats - Prince William Sound, Alaska. Its captain, Joseph Hazelwood, was charged with piloting under the influence or something like that. These days, the Valdez has been renamed and is working the Mediterranean.

President Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill on this date in 1934 that granted independence to the Philippines. The measure -- which took effect on July 4, 1946 -- ended almost half-a-century of U.S. control of the island nation.

It was on this date in 1958 that a 23-year-old Elvis Presley was sworn into the U.S. Army as Pvt. Presley, serial number US-53310761.

In 2002, history was made at the Academy Awards as African-Americans took top acting awards for the first time. Halle Berry became the first black woman to win the best actress Oscar for her performance in "Monster's Ball." Hattie McDaniel and Whoopi Goldberg had earned supporting actress honors earlier. Denzel Washington won the best actor accolade for his role in "Training Day." It was his second Oscar, having previously won a best supporting honor for "Glory." Sidney Poitier was the only other African-American actor to win the top award (in1963). "A Beautiful Mind" was the best picture winner.

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

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