A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  July 21, 2002 at 3:04 AM
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Today is July 21.

On this date in 2000, a report from special counsel John Danforth cleared Attorney General Janet Reno and the federal government of wrongdoing in the April 19, 1993 fire that ended the Branch Davidian siege near Waco, Texas. The FBI had launched a tear-gas assault on the compound of the armed religious cult to end a tense 51-day standoff. Fire broke out in the compound, ultimately claiming the lives of some 80 Brancxh Davidians, including 22 children.

Although the civil War had been "on" for about three months, it wasn't until this date in 1861 that the first major military engagement took place. Union troops, led by Gen. McDowell, and Confederate forces, led by Gen, Beauregard, met at Bull Run Creek, Va., about 35 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The Battle of Bull Run Creek lasted about 10 hours, during which socialites -- dressed in their finest -- came to picnic and watch the fighting. The Confederates won.

Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin climbed back into their lunar module and lifted off from the surface of the moon on this date in 1969, after spending about 21 1/2 hours on the lunar surface.

Jesse James pulled off his first train robbery on this date in 1873. The soon-to-be-infamous outlaw held up the Rock Island Express near Adair, Iowa, and escaped with $3,000 -- although gang insiders said it was more like $65,000. The train company didn't want people to know they carried that much money.

And it was on this date in 1992 that a judge in Pontiac, Mich., dismissed murder charges against euthanasia advocate Jack "Dr. Death" Kevorkian, who'd been accused of helping four chronically ill women end their lives. The retired pathologist began his quest to legalize what he called "medicide" in 1990 when he helped an Oregon woman with Lou Gehrig's disease kill herself. It took a videotape of Kevorkian presiding over the death of a Michigan man to land him in prison. The tape had aired on CBS's "60 Minutes."

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

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