A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Sept. 17, 2002 at 3:12 AM
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Today is Sept. 23.

The USS Bonhomme Richard, commanded by John Paul Jones and actually sinking at the time, defeated the British frigate HMS Serapis in a battle off the coast of Scotland on this day in 1779 during the American Revolutionary War. During the battle, the British commander called on Jones to surrender and Jones replied with his now-famous quote: "I have not yet begun to fight."

It was in 1806 that, amid much public excitement, American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned to St. Louis, Mo., completing the first recorded overland journey from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Coast and back.

It was on this day in 1950 that Congress adopted the Internal Security Act, which provided for the registration of communists. The Supreme Court later ruled it unconstitutional.

After 18 years in exile, Juan Peron was again elected president of Argentina on this date in 1973. His second wife, Isabel, became vice president and succeeded him when he died 10 months later. By the way, Isabel tried calling herself "Eva" to capitalize on the popularity of the first Mrs. Peron.

Among the terms ending the 1991 Gulf War was Iraqi cooperation in U.N. attempts to determine if Saddam Hussein had or was trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction. It was on this date in 1991 that 44 U.N. inspectors were detained in Baghdad after they tried to remove secret Iraqi plans for building nuclear weapons. They were freed five days later.

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


Today is Sept. 24.

The U.S. Supreme Court was born on this date in 1789 when the Judiciary Act was passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington. It set up a court consisting of six justices who were to serve on the tribunal until death or retirement. The number was expanded to nine in 1869.

It was on this date in 1929 that aviator James Doolittle, later of World War II fame, demonstrated the first "blind" take-off and landing, using only instruments to guide his aircraft. It became standard procedure in all commercial and military aircraft.

President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack on this date in 1955 while vacationing in Colorado. Despite that, Eisenhower was re-elected to a second term the following year.

In a speech at the United Nations, South African black leader Nelson Mandela -- on this date in 1993 -- called for the lifting of remaining international economic sanctions against South Africa. Pretoria was taking important steps away from the state-sanctioned racial separation known as "apartheid." Within a year, Mandela would be elected the country's first-ever black president in an election in which everyone, regardless of race, could vote.

And it was on this date in 1998 that Iran's foreign minister announced that Iran had dropped its 1989 call for the death of Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses," which many Muslims found blasphemous. The Ayatollah had offered a $1 million reward to anyone carrying out the death sentence, sending the writer into hiding.

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


Today is Sept. 25.

Spanish explorer Vasco Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and, on this date in 1513, became the first known European to see the Pacific Ocean. He took possession of it in the name of Spain.

The first U.S. Congress, meeting on this date in 1789, adopted 12 amendments to the country's new Constitution. 10 of those amendments were ratified, and became known as "The Bill of Rights."

Sandra Day O'Connor was sworn in as the first woman associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court on this date in 1981. The oath was administered by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. O'Connor had been nominated by President Reagan in July 1981.

It was on this date in 1984 that Jordan announced it would restore relations with Egypt. That was something no Arab country had done since a total of 17 Arab nations broke relations with Cairo in the wake of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979.

And the first -- and only edition -- of Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestic was published by Benjamin Harris, in Boston, Mass., on this date in 1690. Authorities considered this first newspaper published in America to be offensive and ordered it suppressed.

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


Today is Sept. 26.

It was on this date in 1991 that four men and four women entered the huge, airtight greenhouse Biosphere II in Arizona. The idea was for them to be self-sustaining, growing their own food and recycled air and water -- with no outside help -- for two years. While that was the goal, in actuality, it was later revealed that oxygen had to be pumped in after levels within the Biosphere dropped dangerously low. The eight "bio-nauts" emerged again on this date in 1993.

The shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth on this date in 1996, bringing with it astronaut Shannon Lucid. Her six-month tour -- 188 days, to be exact -- aboard the Russian Mir space station set a world record for a woman in space, as well as a record stay in orbit for any American astronaut.

The double murder trial of football legend O.J. Simpson opened on this date in 1994 in a Los Angeles courtroom. The athlete-turned-actor was accused of killing his ex-wife and her friend. While Simpson would be acquitted of criminal charges in Oct. 1995, a civil jury would later find him liable in the deaths -- and order him to pay more than $33 million.

British troops occupied Philadelphia on this date in 1777, during the Revolutionary War. They didn't stay.

On this date in 1950, U.N. troops took the South Korean capital of Seoul from North Korean forces.

The Motion Picture Association of America, under pressure from legitimate filmmakers, adopted the "NC-17" rating -- no children under 17 allowed -- on this date in 1990. "NC-17" replaced the "X" rating that had been exploited by the porn industry.

And the longest winning streak in sports -- 132 years -- ended on this date in 1983, when the yacht Australia II won the America's Cup from the United States.

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


Today is Sept. 27.

In 2001, in further steps following the terrorist attacks on the U.S., President Bush asked the nation's governors to assign National Guard troops to help protect commercial airports. He said armed sky marshals in plainclothes would soon begin riding some flights.

On this date in 1964, the Warren Commission said it found no conspiracy in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. After a 10-month investigation, the commission said that Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, acted alone.

Warsaw fell to the Germans on this date in 1939. The defenders of the Polish capital were no match for 19 days of heavy air raids and artillery bombardment from the Nazis. World War II was less than a month old at this point.

George Stephenson's Stockton & Darlington's line in England operated the first locomotive to pull a passenger train on this date in 1825. One commentator warned that the railroad would turn stay-at-homes into gad-abouts, honest men into liars, and encourage intellectual decline.

It was on this date in 1954 that NBC's "The Tonight Show" made its television debut with host Steve Allen. The late-night show has gone through numerous changes since then, and yet remains a top-rated program that sets the standards for all variety/talk shows. Allen served as host until 1957, followed over the years by Jack Parr, Johnny Carson and Jay Leno.

And it was on this date in 1998 that St. Louis Cardinal slugger Mark McGwire set an all-time major-league season home run record when he hit his 70th home run. He had earlier broken Roger Maris's season record of 61 home runs.

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


Today is Sept. 28.

It was on this date in 1982 that the first news reports appeared of deaths in the Chicago area from tainted Extra-strength Tylenol. A total of seven people, including a 10-year-old girl, died after swallowing capsules that had been laced with cyanide. While the case remains unsolved, it did lead to new tamper-proof packaging for consumer products.

The Greeks defeated the Persians at Marathon on this date in 490 B.C. A Greek soldier ran 26 miles to tell the Athenians of the victory and then dropped dead after his announcement. His feat of endurance provided the model for the modern marathon race.

The first night football game in America took place on this date in 1892. Mansfield State Normal School (now Mansfield University) hosted Wyoming Seminary at Smythe Park in Mansfield, Pa.

More sports history: baseball's biggest scandal broke on this date in 1920 when a grand jury indicted eight Chicago White Sox players for throwing the 1919 World Series with the Cincinnati Reds. One of those indicted was "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. "Say it ain't so, Joe."

And it was on this date in 1989 that former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos died in exile in Hawaii. Marcos had been ousted three years earlier during a "People's Revolution" that swept Corazan Aquino, widow of slain opposition leader Benigno Aquino, into power.

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


Today is Sept. 29.

The Revolutionary War was over, and the Continental Army disbanded. But the founding fathers thought it might be a good idea to institute some means of defense for our country. And so it was on this date in 1789 that the U.S. War Department organized America's first standing army. 700 troops would serve for three years.

It was on this date in 1986 that the Soviet Union released American journalist Nicholas Daniloff, whom Moscow accused of spying and whom Washington said was just a reporter.

Radio was used by both political parties for this first time on this date in 1936. Previously, the candidates slugged it out in the newspapers. In 1936, by the way, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for a second term against Republican challenger Alf Landon.

Also on this date in 1992, after weeks of stalemate, President Bush challenged his Democratic challenger, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, to four debates.

And it was also in 1992 that Magic Johnson announced he would again play basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson had retired less than a year earlier because he was HIV-positive. He was lured back on the court by a yearly salary of more than $14 million.

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

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