A Blast From The Past

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International  |  Feb. 26, 2002 at 6:30 AM
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Today is March 4.

It was on this date in 1789 that Congress met for the first time under the new U.S. Constitution. Where? In New York City. Remember, Washington, D.C., hadn't been built yet.

11 years later, in 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.

On another red-letter political date: in 1917, Jeanette Rankin, a Montana Republican, was sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives and became the first woman to serve in Congress.

During a nationwide address on this day in 1987, President Reagan admitted that his administration had sold arms to Iran in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages being held by Iranian-backed militants in Lebanon. In an understatement, Reagan admitted it "was a mistake." We later found out that the money raised from the weapons sales had been funneled to the Contra rebels fighting the leftist government in Nicaragua at a time when such support was forbidden by Congress.

And a controversy erupted on this date in 1966 when John Lennon was quoted in the London Evening Standard as saying the Beatles "are more popular than Jesus Christ." The comment touched off international protests and many incidents of Beatles record-smashing and -burning.

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


Today is March 5.

The latest school shooting took place on this day in 2001 when police said 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams opened fire at his high school in the San Diego suburb of Santee, Calif. Two students were killed and 13 other people wounded. It later would come out that the teen had "joked" the previous weekend about shooting up the school.

The "Boston Massacre" took place on this date in 1770. British troops fired into a crowd of American colonists, killed five and wounding six. The skirmish was widely publicized and contributed to the unpopularity of the British regime in the days leading up to the Revolutionary War.

In elections held in Germany on this date in 1933, Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party won nearly half the seats in the Reichstag, the German parliament.

Just days after the end of the Gulf War, rebellions against Saddam Hussein were reported in southeastern Iraq. U.S. military officials predicted the unrest probably would lead to his overthrow. It didn't.

And it was on this date in 1963 that country singer Patsy Cline was killed in a plane crash near Camden, Tenn. She was 30.

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


Today is March 6.

"Remember the Alamo!" It was on this date in 1836 that Mexican forces, under the command of Gen. Santa Ana, captured the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas -- killing the last of the 187 defenders who had held out in the fortified mission for 13 days. Texans, under Gen. Sam Houston, rallied with the war cry "Remember the Alamo" and, on April 21 at the Battle of San Jacinto, captured Santa Ana. He signed a peace treaty recognizing Texas' independence.

155 years later, on this date in 1991, President Bush declared the Gulf War over. The "Mother of All Battles" between U.S.-led allied troops and Iraqi forces never happened -- America and its allies liberated occupied Kuwait with relative ease -- but getting Iraq to honor the terms of the agreement that ended the war has proven much, much more difficult.

It was on this date in 1857 that the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling that black slave Dred Scott could not sue for his freedom in a federal court -- even though his white master had died in a "free" state.

The long-awaited, much-feared Michelangelo computer virus struck around the world on this date in 1992. But it wasn't the disaster some had predicted. Hmmm, kind of like Y2K, eh?

And it was on this day in 1970 that Awareness Records released an album by "Family" cult leader Charles Manson. However, he was unable to promote it in person -- having been charged with murder in the August 1969 deaths of actress Sharon Tate and four others.

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


Today is March 7.

A turning point in World War II occurred on this date in 1945. The U.S. 1st Army captured the only bridge across the Rhine River that had not been blown up by the Germans. It marked the beginning of the Allied advance into Germany. World War II ended in Europe two months later on May 8.

U.S. troops began heading home from the Persian Gulf region on this date in 1991 after driving Iraq out of neighboring Kuwait. Unlike Vietnam-era soldiers from some 20 years earlier, they were welcomed home with huge celebrations and ticker-tape parades.

Another dry run for the moon landing. On this day in 1969, two of the three Apollo-9 astronauts test flew their lunar module around the main spacecraft while in Earth orbit, then linked the two together again.

He wasn't "the Boss" back then. It was on this date in 1973 that a then-unknown Bruce Springsteen starred in a showcase at Max's Kansas City club in New York City. In the audience -- CBS Records talent scout John Hammond. The man who signed Billie Holiday and Bob Dylan would also sign Springsteen to a long-term recording contract.

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


Today is March 8.

Hundreds of years of Russian imperial rule was coming to an end. On this date in 1917, strikes and riots in St. Petersburg marked the start of the Russian Bolshevik revolution. Later that summer, Czar Nicholas, his wife and children were taken and summarily executed.

A lot of great spy novels revolve around Soviet espionage but on this date in 1999 it was Chinese spying the United States was worried about. As the investigation continued into how China had managed to steal American nuclear secrets, the Dept. of Energy fired a Chinese-born computer scientist from the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin died on this date in 1992. The stern underground leader hunted by the British as a terrorist before Israel won independence went on to win the Nobel Prize for making peace with Egypt.

The Beatles as a cover band: it was on this date in 1962 that the Beatles -- with Pete Best on drums -- make the band's TV debut on the BBC show "Teenager's Turn." They played Roy Orbison's "Dream Baby." 34 years later, in 1996, BBC Radio One declined to air the second Beatles single "Real Love" from "The Beatles Anthology" -- calling it of insufficient merit.

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


Today is March 9.

Rodney King took the witness stand on this date in 1993 in the federal trial of four Los Angeles police officers videotaped beating and kicking him during a 1991 traffic stop. The federal trial had been ordered after a criminal jury acquitted the cops a year earlier -- sparking rioting in L.A. and elsewhere.

How the mighty have fallen. On this date in 1992, a federal judge in New York announced a final $1.3 billion agreement to settle the civil suits growing out of the 1989 collapse of Drexel Burham Lambert Inc. The brokerage had once been the most powerful firm on Wall Street.

The module containing the bodies of the seven astronauts killed in the January 28th explosion of the shuttle Challenger was located on the ocean floor off Florida on this date in 1986. It was later revealed that at least some of the crew had survived the destruction of the spacecraft, only to be killed when the cabin hit the water after falling some 400,000 feet.

Napoleon married his Josephine on this date in 1796. Josephine de Beauharnais had been widowed during the French Revolution; indeed, she almost lost her head herself. Later, the Parisian socialite caught the eye of a young French general named Napoleon Bonaparte. Their marriage didn't last -- but it reportedly wasn't for a lack of love. Napoleon, by then the emperor of France, wanted an heir and Josephine was unable to have any more children.

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


Today is March 10.

James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was sentenced to 99 years in prison on this date in 1969. Ray would later recant, claiming he did not fire the bullet that killed the civil rights leader. Just before his death, Ray met in prison with members of the King family, who declared afterwards that they believed he was innocent.

Stupid bar tricks involving dollar bills became possible on this date in 1862 when the U.S. Treasury issued the first American paper money, in denominations from $5 to $1,000.

On this date in 515 B.C., the re-building of the great Jewish temple in Jerusalem was completed.

Rapidly melting snow and ice jams in 1993 forced rivers out of their banks and hundreds from their homes in Nebraska in the worst flooding in 15 years. This was a bad year for flooding in the nation's midsection. At one point, downtown Fargo, N.D., flooded and then burned down after the high water prevented fire trucks from getting to the fire. There's something ironic about buildings surrounded by floodwater catching fire but we're sure the irony was lost on Fargo officials.

Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album marked its 37th week atop the Billboard Top-200 album chart on this date in 1984. That was longer than any other contemporary rock or pop album. Only the cast album of "West Side Story" -- at 54 weeks -- had a longer run at the top.

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

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