Today is Thursday, July 4, the 185th day of 2013 with 180 to follow.
This is Independence Day in the United States.
The moon is waning. Morning stars are Mars, Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus. Evening stars are Mercury, Saturn and Venus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Cancer. They include author Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1804; distiller Hiram Walker in 1816; songwriter Stephen Foster ("Oh! Susannah," "Beautiful Dreamer") in 1826; circus operator James Bailey (Barnum and Bailey) in 1847; Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, in 1872; innovative cartoonist Rube Goldberg in 1883; Louis B. Mayer, film mogul and co-founder of MGM, in 1885; actor/politician George Murphy and organized crime figure Meyer Lansky, both in 1902; conductor Mitch Miller in 1911; Ann Landers, advice columnist, and her twin, also an advice columnist, Abigail Van Buren in 1918; former hotel executive Leona Helmsley in 1920; actor Eva Marie Saint in 1924 (age 89); playwright Neil Simon and actor Gina Lollobrigida, both in 1927 (age 86); Al Davis, Oakland Raiders owner, in 1929; New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in 1930; TV reporter Geraldo Rivera in 1943 (age 70); activist Ron Kovic in 1946 (age 67); former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in 1952 (age 61); and tennis player Pam Shriver in 1962 (age 51).
On this date in history:
In 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming U.S. independence from Britain.
In 1863, Union troops defeated Confederate forces in a battle at Vicksburg, Miss.
In 1895, the poem "America the Beautiful," by Wellesley College Professor Katherine Lee Bates, was published.
In 1914, director D.W. Griffith began filming his controversial film "The Birth of a Nation," which introduced important filmmaking techniques and influenced many other directors.
In 1939, Lou Gehrig gave his "luckiest man on the face of the Earth" speech in announcing his retirement from the New York Yankees. Gehrig had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a deliberating motor neuron disease.
In 1986, more than 250 sailing ships and the United States' biggest fireworks display honored the Statue of Liberty in its 100th birthday year.
In 1995, the British Parliament reconfirmed John Majors as prime minister.
In 1997, NASA's Pathfinder reached Mars to become the first U.S. spacecraft to land on the planet in more than two decades.
In 2005, NASA's "Deep Impact" spacecraft completed an 85 million-mile journey by intentionally slamming into the Tempel 1 comet to learn more about comets and other aspects of the solar system.
In 2006, North Korea test-launched seven ballistic missiles in what it called "routine military exercises," causing a firestorm of anger among its neighbors and the United States.
In 2007, the Russian resort city of Sochi was selected to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
In 2008, former arch-conservative U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, heralded as the last of the "Old South" politicians, died at age 86 after battling cancer and heart disease.
In 2010, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus took command of the Afghan war, acknowledging the "tough fight" ahead for NATO forces while pledging "we are in this to win."
In 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama hosted a White House Independence Day barbecue for military service members and their families.
A thought for the day: U.S. President Calvin Coolidge supposedly said, "If you don't say anything, you won't be called upon to repeat it."