A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Oct. 4, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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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.

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

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