A Blast from the Past

By United Press International   |   July 30, 2002 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Aug. 5.

She died on this date 40 years ago but Marilyn Monroe is still very much a part of the Hollywood scene. She was the epitome of movie glamour, sex goddess of the 1950s, not easily forgotten, whose 29 films in a relatively brief career often turn up on TV and one of them, "Some Like It Hot," was named best American comedy of the 20th century by the American Film Institute. Her life was like a movie script and her death was fittingly bathed in mystery and controversy. She was but 36 when she died, apparently from an overdose of sleeping pills, a probable suicide. But, to this day, theories and suspicions persist that she was murdered.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan began the wholesale firing of 11,359 striking air-traffic controllers who had refused his order to return to work. Air travel was significantly slowed for months.

It was a sign of things to come. On this date in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the first federal income tax. It was a wartime measure, with all incomes over $800 to be taxed at the rate of three percent. However, it was never really put into effect, and was rescinded in 1872.

Another sign of things to come: "American Bandstand" was a Philadelphia TV show hosted by 26-year-old disc jockey Dick Clark until this date in 1957, when it began airing nationally. The format was simple - teenagers dancing, performers singing their hits and Clark counting down the weekly top-10 songs. The show was not only the TV longest-running series but also the first devoted exclusively to rock 'n' roll. "American Bandstand" was canceled six months after Clark turned over hosting duties to David Hirsch in 1989.

Yet another sign of things to come: in 1994, Kenneth Starr, solicitor general under President Bush, was named as independent prosecutor investigating the Whitewater scandal. It was some sort of failed land deal involving President Clinton. But the investigation would later turn into something much, much juicier - Monica-gate.

Speaking of scandals: on this date in 1974, President Nixon admitted ordering the Watergate investigation halted six days after the June 1972 break-in at the Washington, D.C., hotel that gave the scandal its name. Nixon said he expected to be impeached. Three days later, he would announce his resignation.

And it was on this date in 1833 that Chicago was incorporated as a village with a population of about 200.

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


Today is Aug. 6

The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on this day in 1945. It was the first time in history that a city had suffered a nuclear attack, and one of only two times that has happened down to this day. Japan did not surrender, ending World War II, until nine days later after a second bomb was dropped -- on the city of Nagasaki.

Italy invaded Somalia -- starting the Battle of North Africa in World War II -- on this day in 1940. In those days, it was called Somaliland and it was a British possession.

It was back in 1890 that William Kemmier became the first person executed by an electric chair, at Auburn Prison in New York. He had been convicted of killing his girlfriend.

William Schroeder died of a stroke in Louisville, Ky., on this day in 1986 ... after 620 days with the Jarvik-7 mechanical heart. He was the longest-living permanent artificial heart patient.

In 1996, NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin announced the discovery of evidence of a primitive life form on Mars, a fossil found on a meteorite in Antartica believed to have landed billions of years ago.

The UN Security Council voted on this day in 1990 to impose an economic and military embargo on Iraq as punishment for its invasion of Kuwait.

Gertrude Ederle of New York became the first American to swim the English Channel on this day in 1926.

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


Today is Aug. 7.

This is the anniversary of the military buildup that became known as Desert Shield. On this date in 1990 -- five days after Iraq invaded Kuwait -- President George Bush sent U.S. troops and air power to protect Saudi Arabian oil fields from possible Iraqi attack. Desert Storm followed the in January as allied air strikes drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

It was on this date in 1942 that the U.S. Marines launched America's first offensive in World War II, landing on the Pacific island of Guadalcanal.

A number of Americans were among the 224 people killed on this date in 1998 when bombs detonated within minutes of each other outside U.S. embassy buildings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Washington blamed terrorist Osami bin Laden and bombed his Afghanistan camp in retaliation.

On this date in 1782, Gen. George Washington ordered the creation of a Badge of Military Merit to honor Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War. It consisted of a purple cloth heart with a silver braided edge. After 1932 the award went to those wounded in action.

And the satellite Explorer 6 transmitted the first view of the Earth from space on this date in 1959. For the first time, we had a likeness of our planet based on more than projections.

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


Today is Aug. 8.

Prime-time television programming was disrupted on this date in 1974 when -- in a speech from the White House -- Richard Nixon became the first U.S. president to announce his resignation. He was facing impeachment over the Watergate scandal. Nixon left office the next day and Vice President Ford became president.

Six years earlier to the day, 1968, times were much better for Richard Nixon. That's when he was formally nominated as the Republican presidential candidate. He was elected that November, defeating Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Independent George Wallace in his second bid for the White House. The first was in 1960 when he lost to John F. Kennedy.

It was on this date in 1940 that the German Luftwaffe, or air force, began a series of daylight air raids on Britain. Hitler was hoping to bomb Britain into submission. It didn't work.

And the regime of Iraq's Saddam Hussein was shaken on this date in 1995 when it was reported that his two eldest daughters, their husbands and other senior army officers had defected. The daughters and their spouses later returned after Saddam told them all was forgiven. But, one day after they returned to Baghdad, the husbands were executed.

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


Today is Aug. 9.

Three days after the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, an American B-29 bomber left its base on this date in 1945 and headed for the Japanese city of Kokura. However, because of bad weather over Kokura, the plane headed for a secondary target -- Nagasaki -- and dropped an atomic bomb nicknamed "Fat Man" at 11:02 a.m., local time. The blast killed an estimated 70,000 people and destroyed half the city. Japan would surrender six days later.

It was on this date in 480 B.C., after one of history's most famous battles, that Persian forces finally overran the heavily outnumbered Spartan defenders of the narrow pass at Thermopylae in Greece.

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal of the Games in the 4x100-meter relay. His relay team set a new world record of 39.8 seconds, which held for 20 years.

The world would learn the name of Charles Manson after this date in 1969, when his followers crept into the Los Angeles home of film director Roman Polanski and murdered his wife, actress Sharon Tate, and four other people. The slayings were the first of two nights of bizarre killings by the cult.

And President Nixon's resignation became effective at noon on this date in 1974. Vice President Ford was sworn in as the nation's 38th chief executive, thus becoming the first person to serve as vice president and president without being elected.

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


Today is Aug. 10.

Terror at a Los Angeles community center on this date in 1999. A white supremacist gunman opened fire in the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community Center, wounding three children and two adults. He then fled, and killed a Filipino-American letter-carrier a few miles away. The gunman, Buford Furrow Jr., surrendered in Las Vegas the next day. He told authorities he committed the shootings because he was "concerned about the decline of the white race."

New Yorkers breathed a sigh of relief on this date in 1977. A 24-year-old postal employee named David Berkowitz was arrested and charged with being the "Son of Sam," the serial killer who terrorized New York City for more than a year, killing six young people and wounding seven others with a .44-caliber revolver

It was on this date in 1990 that a jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Mayor Marion Barry on one misdemeanor cocaine possession charge and acquitted him on another. However, the jury deadlocked on the 12 other counts and a mistrial was declared. Barry would do some time and later revive his political career -- once again being elected mayor of Washington.

A committee of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson suggested to the Continental Congress on this date in 1776 that the United States adopt "E pluribus unum" -- "Out of many, one" -- as the motto for its Great Seal.

For years, the United States owned and operated the Panama Canal, which cut thousands of miles off the voyages of ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. But on this date in 1977, the U.S. and Panama reached an agreement in principle to transfer control of the canal to Panama by the year 2000. The handover took place on Dec. 31, 1999.

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


Today is Aug. 11.

A minor clash between the California Highway Patrol and two young black men on this date in 1965 touched off rioting in the predominately black Watts section of South-Central Los Angeles. In six days of violence, 34 people were killed, more than 3,000 more arrested and property damage was listed at $40 million.

On this date in 1998, two boys were found to be "delinquent," or guilty, of murder in the fatal shootings the previous March of four students and a teacher at their middle school in Jonesboro, Ark. The boys were 11 and 13 at the time of the incident.

Major league baseball players went on strike following conclusion of the day's games on this date in 1994.

On this date back in 1934, a group of federal prisoners classified as "most dangerous" became the first civilian inmates at the new high-security penal facility on a 22-acre rocky outcrop off the San Francisco coast called Alcatraz.

And, on this date in 1984, in an off-air radio voice check that TV cameras picked up, President Reagan joked, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." The Kremlin was not amused.

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

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