A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Dec. 7, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Today is Dec. 7.

Today is a "date that will live in infamy." On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, nearly 200 Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The raid, which lasted a little more than an hour, killed nearly 3,000 people and nearly destroyed the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet. The attack came one day after President Franklin Roosevelt send a message of peace to Japan's Emperor Hirohito, and catapulted the United States into World War II. The U.S. Congress declared war on Japan one day later.

An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale struck the Soviet Republic of Armenia on this date in 1988. As many as 60,000 people were killed -- many when their poorly constructed homes collapsed on them. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev cut short his U.S. visit to fly home to head the worldwide relief efforts.

The destruction of a 16th century mosque in India by militant Hindus on this date in 1992 sparked five days of violence across the Indian subcontinent that left more than 1,100 people dead.

It was on this date in 1993 that a gunman opened fire on a crowded Long Island, N.Y., commuter train -- killing several persons. One of those killed was the husband of Carolyn McCarthy, who later campaigned on a platform of gun control to win a seat in the U.S House of Representatives.

Charles Brooks Jr., earned a dubious place in history on this date In 1983. Convicted of murdering an auto mechanic, Brooks became the first person put to death by lethal injection in this country. He received an intravenous injection of sodium pentathol, the barbiturate that is known as a "truth serum" when administered in lesser doses, at the Texas State Prison in Huntsville.

Delaware became the first state to ratify the United States Constitution, doing so on this date in 1787. The vote was unanimous.

And where would we be without Leo Baekeland, who on this date in 1909, patented the process for making Bakelite -- giving birth to the modern plastics industry.

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

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