A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Sept. 24, 2002 at 3:13 AM
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Today is Sept. 30.

In the heightened alert across America in 2001, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the government rounded up potential suspects that could be involved in future terrorist activities. By this date, about 500 people in the U.S. and elsewhere had been arrested or detained.

The civil rights struggle centered in Oxford, Miss., on this date in 1962. James H. Meredith, an African-American, was escorted onto the all-white University of Mississippi campus by U.S. Marshals, setting off a deadly riot during which two men were killed before the racial violence was quelled by more than 3,000 soldiers. Meredith enrolled the next day.

Germany, France and Britain signed the Munich Pact in Munich, Germany, on this date in 1938, supposedly heading off the outbreak of war but giving Czechoslovakia to Adolph Hitler's Germany. Afterward, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain predicted "peace for our time" but no such luck. World War II began less than one year later.

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in a military coup on this day in 1991. Aristide, a priest-turned-politician, was restored to power three years later during President Clinton's "Operation Uphold Democracy." The Caribbean nation's military leaders were convinced to step aside as U.S. forces prepared to invade.

Movie idol James Dean died in a car crash in California on this date in 1955. He was 24. Dean made only three films, but his rebellious attitude became a symbol for a generation.

An accident at a nuclear power plant 70 miles northeast of Tokyo on this date in 1999 released high levels of radiation in Japan's worst-ever nuclear accident. More than 50 people were apparently exposed to radiation, and hundreds of thousands more were told to stay indoors during the worst of it.

And a dentist in Charleston, Mass., used an experimental anesthetic known as ether on one of his patients on this date in 1846. Dr. William Morton performed a tooth extraction, first time an anesthetic had been.

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Today is Oct. 1.

Baseball's first World Series opened in Boston on this date in 1903. The Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League beat the Boston Pilgrims (Red Sox) of the American League, 7-3. However, Boston would go on to win the series, five games to three.

It was on this day in 1992 that Dallas billionaire Ross Perot formally announced his independent candidacy for president. (He had earlier said he wasn't going to run for the White House, but then changed his mind.) One of his many sound bites was: "I'm Ross, you're the boss." Amazingly, Perot got something like six percent of the vote that November.

President Nixon had resigned in disgrace as a result of Watergate, but his underlings still had to face the music. It was on this date in 1974 that former Attorney General John Mitchell and four other Nixon administration officials went on trial in connection with the Watergate cover-up.

Detroit businessman Henry Ford introduced the Model-T automobile on this day in 1908. Price: $500. The Model-T came in many colors -- all of them black. It was Ford who reportedly said, "History is bunk."

And the East became Red on this date in 1949, when Mao Tse-tung and other Chinese communist leaders formally proclaimed establishment of the People's Republic of China.

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Today is Oct. 2.

On this date in 2001, NATO told the United States it had made its case for military help in its war on terrorism. NATO said the U.S. had shown sufficient evidence that Osama bin Laden and his organization were responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Hollywood mourned and the world woke up to a new health crisis on this date in 1985, when actor Rock Hudson died of AIDS. The movie star had been a popular leading man in the 1950s and '60s. His illness opened people's eyes to the growing AIDS epidemic.

American Revolutionary War General-turned-turncoat Benedict Arnold may have escaped after selling us out to the British, but not everyone did. On this date in 1780, British spy Major John Andre was convicted in connection with Arnold's treason and was hanged in Tappan, N.Y.

Indian political leader and spiritual leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was born on this date in 1869. Gandhi achieved world honor for his advocacy of nonviolent resistance against tyranny. He was assassinated in the garden of his home in New Delhi on Jan. 30, 1948.

It was on this date in 1984 that Richard Miller became the only FBI agent ever to be charged with espionage. He was convicted two years later of passing government secrets to the Soviet Union through his Russian lover.

And this is the birthday of Charlie Brown and Snoopy. On this date in 1950, the "Peanuts" comic strip by Charles M. Schulz was published for the first time. Schulz announced his retirement in late 1999 and died Feb. 12, 2000 -- one day before his final original Sunday strip was published. "Peanuts" still runs in newspapers worldwide.

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Today is Oct. 3.

After months of televised testimony in a highly controversial and watchable trial held amid a circus-like atmosphere, O.J. Simpson was acquitted on murder charges on this date in 1995. A criminal court jury in Los Angeles found the former football star innocent in the June 1994 stabbing deaths of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. But, two years later, a civil jury found him liable in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estates of the victims and he was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the two families.

East and West Germany reunited on this date in 1990 -- after 45 years of division and just four days short of the 41st anniversary of East Germany's founding (Oct. 7, 1949). It was perhaps the most historic reunion of the 20th century. The newly reunited Germany took the name the Federal Republic of Germany, the formal name of the former West Germany, and adopted West Germany's constitution. Today the German capital is once again Berlin.

It was on this date in 1981 that the Irish Republican Army prisoners at Maze Prison in Belfast, Northern Ireland, ended their seven-month hunger strike. One at a time, an IRA prisoner would stop eating in a failed bid to force Britain to release them. A total of 10 men died.

Rebecca Felton, a Georgia Democrat, became the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate on this day in 1922. She was 87 years old at the time and served only two days -- having been appointed on an interim basis upon the death of Sen. Thomas E. Watson.

And the children's show "Captain Kangaroo," with Bob Keeshan in the title role, was broadcast for the first time on this date in 1955. Keeshan had portrayed Clarabelle the Clown on the kids' show "Howdy Doody."

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Today is Oct. 4.

On this date in 2001, a Siberian Airlines jetliner exploded and plunged into the Black Sea, killing all 64 passengers and 12 crew members. The passengers included 51 Israelis on a Siberian holiday trip. The U.S. said later evidence showed the plane had been hit by a missile fired during a Ukranian military training exercise.

The Soviet Union launched the first man-made space satellite on this date in 1957. The launch of Sputnik-1 came as a shock to Americans who had simply assumed their high-tech was better than that of the Russkies. The Sputnik surprise and the subsequent space flight by cosmonaut Yuri Gregarin in 1961 galvanized America into the aggressive space program that put men on the moon in 1969. It also resulted in a stepped-up emphasis on the teaching of science in American classrooms.

Another unpleasant surprise for Americans occurred on this date in 1777, during the Revolutionary War, when the army of Gen. George Washington was defeated by the British in a battle at Germantown, Penn.

Earl Butz, who was agriculture secretary under President Jimmy Carter, resigned on this date in 1976 after apologizing for what he called the "gross indiscretion" of uttering a racist remark.

It was on this date in 1989 that Art Shell was hired to coach the Oakland ) Raiders, making him the first black head coach in the modern NFL.

Hundreds of thousands of Christian men gathered on the Mall in Washington, D.C., on this date in 1997 to reaffirm their faith and to pledge to preserve the structure of the family. The rally was organized by Promise Keepers, an evangelical group founded by former football coach Bill McCartney.

And the Mormons in Utah renounced polygamy, the practice of having more than one wife, on this date in 1890 as a condition for achieving statehood.

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Today is Oct. 5.

Amerians in 2001 were growing concerned about a possible terrorist attack involving biological weapons. This concerned was revved up by the death from anthrax infection of Robert Stevens, photo editor for America media Inc. of Boca Raton Fla., publisher of the National Enquirer and other tabloids. It was one of several anthrax incidents dutring those late summer days.

It was on this date in 1986 that events were sent in motion that would lead to the unraveling of the scheme known as "Iran-Contra." A U.S. plane carrying arms for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels was shot down over Nicaragua, and the only survivor was a former U.S. Marine named Eugene Hasenfus. The U.S. government denied any link to the "mission." Nicaragua's Sandinista government would try and convict Hasenfus, but then pardon him a couple of months later. The episode exposed the covert operation and resulted in congressional hearings in the spring and summer of 1987.

Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic had lost the presidential election but didn't want to concede defeat. So it was on this date in 2000 that hundreds of thousands of people in Belgrade overthrew the government and pushed Milosevic out of power. The next day, Milosevic resigned, ending 13 years of rule that had led to a NATO bombing campaign in 1999.

The Shawnee chief Tecumseh -- regarded as one of the greatest of American Indians -- was killed on this date in 1813 while fighting on the side of the British during the War of 1812. Tecumseh had tried to establish an Indian confederation to stop white encroachment. While he advocated peaceful means and negotiations, he didn't rule out war as a last resort. He sided with the British in the War of 1812 after U.S. troops, during the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe, burned the Indiana town where he was headquartered.

Germany's Hindenburg Line was broken on this date in 1918 as World War I neared an end.

The Dalai Lama, the exiled god-king of Tibet, won the Nobel Peace Prize on this date in 1989 for nonviolent efforts to free his homeland from China.

Also on this date in 1989, televangelist Jim Bakker -- who may have fancied himself a god-king -- was convicted on all 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy for fleecing his PTL flock. Bakker lost his religious empire, he ended up serving time in prison, and his wife -- the heavily mascaraed Tammy Faye -- divorced him.

And it was on this date in 1994 that a total of 53 members of a secretive religious cult were found dead -- the victims of murder or suicide -- over a two-day period in Switzerland and in Quebec, Canada.

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


Today is Oct. 6.

Egyptian President and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Anwar Sadat was assassinated on this date in 1981 as he reviewed a military parade in Cairo. It was Sadat who, along with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, met with President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Md., and took the first steps toward restoring Egyptian-Israeli relations. Ironically, he was killed at a parade commemorating the 1973 Egyptian-Israeli War.

It was on this date in 1991 that reports first surfaced of Anita Hill's accusations of sexual harassment against U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas. Hill, a former personal assistant to Thomas, said her ex-boss had made crude, rude remarks to her from 1981 to 1983. Despite her allegations, and congressional hearings into the matter, Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate.

"The Jazz Singer," the legendary "first talkie," had its premiere in New York on this date in 1927, ushering in the era of movie sound and soon marking the end of the silents. While not the first Hollywood movie with sound, it was the first to coordinate sound with the action -- and that included several songs by Al Jolson, the No. 1 showman of his day, and was an instant hit. It was Jolson's famous line that pretty well summed up the situation: "You ain't heard nothin' yet."

On this date in 1853, Antioch College opened in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It was the first nonsectarian school to offer equal opportunity for both men and women.

In sports history...

Sports writer Grantland Rice was at the microphone as the World Series was broadcast for the first time on this date in 1921.

And on this date in 1993, Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan announced he was retiring. Jordan had been shaken by the murder that summer of his father. In 1994, "Air Jordan" would take up baseball and play for the minor leagues in a season that was shortened by a players' strike. He eventually returned to basketball -- and the Bulls.

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

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