A Blast From The Past

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International  |  Nov. 13, 2001 at 5:00 AM
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Today is Nov. 19.

The Cold War formally ended on this date in 1990, when leaders of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) --- composed of NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations --- signed a massive conventional arms treaty following a three-day meeting in Paris.

It was on this date in 1919 that the U.S. Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles, which had been drawn up by the Paris peace conference at the end of World War I. As a result, the United States never joined the League of Nations -- even though it was the brainchild of President Woodrow Wilson.

It was on this date in 1863 that President Lincoln delivered what became known as the Gettysburg Address at the Pennsylvania field where the Battle of Gettysburg had been fought. His remarks -- lasting only a minute or so -- were not the main oration that day. No, that honor went to Edward Everett, who gave a three-hour speech describing the battle.

A Houston jury ruled on this date in 1985 that Texaco must pay $10.5 billion to Pennzoil for Texaco's 1984 acquisition of Getty Oil Co. It was the largest damage award in U.S. history.

And the first surviving set of septuplets --- that's seven babies --- was born on this date in 1997 to Bobbi McCaughey in Des Moines, Iowa. McCaughey had been taking fertility drugs to get pregnant. In one fell swoop, the family of three (the McCaugheys also had a 2-year-old daughter) grew to a family of 10.

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

Today is Nov. 20.

The U.S. World War II offensive against Japan in the Central Pacific, known as Operation Galvanic, began on this date in 1943 with the Battle of Tarawa-Makin. U.S. forces attacked the heavily fortified Gilbert Islands. It took them eight days to oust the Japanese invaders, at a cost of 1,000 American and 4,700 Japanese lives.

Prior to this battle, censorship had kept the U.S. public in the dark about the human cost of war, but casualty figures and photographs from this battle appalled Americans.

Actor-turned-politician Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination on this date in 1975. He would lose to incumbent Gerald Ford, who then was defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter in November 1976. Reagan would have more success four years later.

It was President Reagan who announced on this date in 1982 that U.S. Marines would go to Lebanon to assist in the evacuation of PLO fighters. The Marines were pulled out in October 1983 after 240 of them were killed in a terrorist bombing in Beirut.

The Nuremberg Trials began on this day in 1945. The International War Crimes Tribunal heard evidence against 24 German leaders, including military leaders, civilian officials, and judges. Many were found guilty and sentenced to death.

It was on this date in 1789 that New Jersey became the first state to ratify 10 of the 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution proposed by Congress two months earlier. These 10 amendments came to be known as the Bill of Rights.

Edward I was proclaimed King of England on this date in 1272. Edward was called the English Justinian because of his legal reforms.

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, the future Queen Elizabeth II of England, wed Philip Mountbatten on this date in 1947. Philip, a former prince of Greece, had become a British citizen nine months earlier and was given the title Duke of Edinburgh.

British Prime Minister Thatcher failed to win a 65-percent majority in a Conservative Party vote on this day in 1990, forcing a runoff against Michael Heseltine.

And on this day in 1992, fire erupted at Windsor Castle -- Queen Elizabeth's official residence west of London -- causing much damage. The queen and Prince Andrew pitched in to help save priceless artworks housed in the fortress.

And Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain died on this day in 1975. Franco had ruled Spain since 1939. His final illness had lasted so long -- with so many false alarms -- that "Saturday Night Live's" Chevy Chase got laughs every Saturday night by reporting: "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead."

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

Today is Nov. 21.

Nazi forces occupied western Czechoslovakia on this date in 1938 and declared its people German citizens. The annexation of the Sudatenland was Hitler's first major belligerent action. In response, England and its allies chose to sit still for it in return for a promise of "peace in our time," which Hitler later broke.

This miscalculation has influenced geopolitics ever since, because it comes to mind when world leaders consider what, if anything, to do about regional troublemakers.

President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ended a summit meeting in Switzerland on this date in 1985, and promised to step up the pace of arms-reduction talks.

It was on this date in 1800 that the U.S. Congress met for the first time in Washington, D.C. Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives had been meeting in Philadelphia from 1790 to 1800, when the north wing of the new Capitol was completed.

This is the anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act. Congress passed it on this day in 1974 over President Ford's veto. The Freedom of Information Act allows citizens to see any federal government document that is not classified.

President Bush signed a new Civil Rights Act on this date in 1991. It made it easier for workers to sue in job discrimination cases.

The man they called the Junk Bond King was sentenced to jail on this date in 1990. Michael Milken, a former executive with the brokerage house Drexel Burnham Lambert, got 10 years for securities violations. Junk bonds are bonds that pay big because they carry high risk. In the 1980s and '90s, some people lost big by investing in them.

And it was on this date in 1783, in Paris, that Jean de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes made the first free-flight ascent in a balloon.

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

Today is Nov. 22.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated on this date in 1963.

President Kennedy was shot in the head while riding in an open motorcade in Dallas. The governor of Texas, John Connally, was wounded at the same time. The motorcade raced to the nearest hospital but the president could not be saved.

Within hours, Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the 36th U.S. chief executive. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the crime but would be shot to death before he could stand trial. His assailant, Jack Ruby, later died in jail of cancer.

Three American presidents had been assassinated before -- but this was the first time since the advent of broadcasting, and that allowed the public to learn of the shooting before any suspect had been arrested, and indeed before it was known the president had died.

Another nation lost its president on this date in 1989. Lebanon's newly elected president, Rene Moawad, died in bomb blast that also killed 17 other people in Syrian-patrolled Muslim west Beirut.

The same day, 12 U.S. Green Berets were evacuated from the San Salvador Sheraton. They were the last of nearly 100 people trapped when leftist rebels seized the hotel in the capital city of El Salvador.

Margaret Thatcher announced on this date in 1990 that she would step down as British prime minister. She resigned after failing to win a decisive victory in a battle for control of her Conservative Party. Thatcher had been named prime minister in May 1979 and served more than 11 years in office -- the longest tenure of any British prime minister in the 20th century.

The State Department invited Israeli and Arab negotiators to begin bilateral peace talks in Washington, D.C., on this date in 1991. So began a new round of Middle East peace talks.

In another peaceable action, the State Department ended a 22-year ban on travel to China this date in 1972.

It was on this date in 1992 that 10 women who had worked with Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Oregon, accused him of unwelcome sexual advances.

That same day, Woody Allen told the CBS news program "60 Minutes" that Mia Farrow vowed to do something "very nasty" to him before she charged him with sexually abusing their adopted seven-year-old daughter.

It was on this date in 1977 that supersonic Concorde jets began regularly scheduled flights to New York from London and Paris. SSTs were developed jointly by Britain and France.

And New Zealanders Robert Hamill and Phil Stubbs, on this date in 1997, arrived in Barbados from the Canary Islands in their boat, Kiwi Challenger, after 41 days, one hour and 55 minutes. It was a new record for rowing across the Atlantic.

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

Today is Nov. 23.

It was on this date in 1992 that the United States lowered its flag over the last American base in the Philippines. The event ended nearly a century of U.S. military presence in the former American colony. The U.S. naval base at Subic Bay had been the center of American military operations in Southeast Asia. But Washington and Manila had been unable to agree to terms for a new lease on the land, and so the old lease was allowed to expire.

Also on this date in 1992, a Senate report said no credible evidence was found to support claims that Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign tried to delay the release of the U.S. hostages held by Iran. You might recall that the 52 Americans held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran since Nov. 4, 1979, were released on Reagan's inauguration date in January 1981.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was carved out of the Netherlands on this date in 1890 and became independent.

World War II rationing ended in the United States on all foods except sugar on this date in 1945.

And it was on this date in 1997 that Prince Charles appointed former British Prime Minister John Major as the legal and financial protector of Princes William and Harry. The boys' mother, Diana, had been killed in a car accident in Paris almost three months earlier.

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

Today is Nov. 24.

Accused Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was fatally shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby in a Dallas jail on this date in 1963. We said "accused" because Oswald was never tried and convicted in the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy. However, the Warren Commission would later rule Oswald was in all probability the killer, although conspiracy theories still abound. The more colorful ones include the Mafia and Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant launched the Battle of Chattanooga (Tenn.) on this date in 1863 after bringing in reinforcements. Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg had been confident that he and his troops were in an impregnable position on Lookout Mountain. They were wrong. Union forces overran the Confederate encampment and Bragg himself barely escaped capture.

A middle-aged man whose ticket was made out to "D.B. Cooper" hijacked a Northwest Airlines flight from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle on this date in 1971. Somewhere south of Seattle early the following day, he parachuted from the plane with the $200,000 in ransom he'd collected from the airline -- and was never heard from again.

Several thousand dollars of the ransom money was found in February 1980 along the Columbia River near Vancouver, Wash. But no sign of "D.B. Cooper."

It was on this date in 1985 that Arab commandos forced an EgyptAir jetliner to Malta and began shooting passengers, fatally wounding two. 57 other people died when Egyptian commandos stormed the jet, bringing the hijacking to a bloody end.

And Joseph Glidden received a patent for barbed wire on this date in 1874. Without barbed wire, farming of the Great Plains might have been near impossible.

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

Today is Nov. 25.

The world mourned on this date in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy, assassinated in Dallas three days earlier, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Chicago went into mourning on this date in 1987 when the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington, died in office of a heart attack at the age of 65.

The Iran-Contra scandal began, more or less, on this date in 1986 when President Reagan announced the resignation of national security adviser John Poindexter and the firing of Poindexter aide Lt. Col. Oliver North in the aftermath of the secret sale of arms to Iran. Money from the arms sales went to support the Contra rebels fighting to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua, at a time when Congress said such aid was illegal.

More than 6,000 British troops evacuated New York City on this date in 1783 after the peace treaty ending the Revolutionary War was signed.

Poland's first direct presidential elections took place on this date in 1990. Because no candidate received a majority of vote, labor leader Lech Walesa was forced into a run-off against businessman Stanislaw Tyminski, while Polish President Tadeusz Maziwoecki was knocked out of the race. Walesa would eventually win the presidency.

It was on this date in 1992 that the Czechoslovak Parliament voted to dissolve the country at the end of the year into separate Czech and Slovak states.

As the gasoline shortage continued, President Nixon on this date in 1973 ordered the national highway speed limit cut from 70 to 55 miles per hour to save lives and also to save gas. Sales of radar detectors and CB radios began to boom.

On this date in 1919, radio station WTAW in College Station, Texas, broadcast the first play-by-play description of a football game, between Texas and Texas A&M. The world would never be the same. By the way, A&M blanked Texas, 7-0.

And Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap," listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's longest running play, opened in London on this date in 1952.

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

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