A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Jan. 28, 2003 at 3:15 AM
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Today is Feb. 3.

This is "the day the music died." On this date in 1959, singers Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and Ritchie Valens were killed in a plane crash in a cornfield near Mason City, Iowa. Only hours earlier, they'd played what turned out to be their final show -- at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. Singer Don McLean memorialized the death of Holly in his song "American Pie," calling it "the day the music died."

It was on this date in 1992 that pretrial hearings began in Simi Valley, Calif., in the trial of four Los Angeles policemen accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King. Their acquittal at the end of April sparked rioting in Los Angeles and other U.S cities.

Exactly one year later, in 1993, the same four officers went on trial in federal court in Los Angeles. They were accused of violating King's civil rights.

Also in 1993, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was suspended for one year and fined $25,000 by Major League Baseball's Executive Council for using racially and ethnically insensitive language.

Despite pleas from numerous sympathizers, including Pope John Paul II, Texas executed its first female inmate in 135 years on this date in 1998. The execution of Karla Faye Tucker, 38, was controversial because she'd repeatedly expressed remorse for the 1983 murders she was convicted of committing.

The income tax began on this date in 1913. It was included in the 16th Amendment, allowing establishment of an income tax, became part of the U.S. Constitution after ratification by Wyoming.

And, in 2002, in one of the most exciting Super Bowl games ever, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal as time ran out to give the underdog New England Patriots a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

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


Today is Feb. 4.

It was on this date in 2002 that President Bush handed Congress a $2.13 trillion budget for the 2003 fiscal year. This included a 14 percent or $48 billion increase in defense spending.

On this date in 1789, George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, was unanimously elected the first president of the United States by all 69 presidential electors who cast their votes.

It was not better the second time around for O.J. Simpson. A year and a half after he had been acquitted on criminal charges in the slayings of his former wife and a friend, a jury in a civil case against him found him liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million to the victims' families.

It was on this date in 1974 that Patricia Hearst, the 19-year-old daughter of publisher Randolph Hearst, was abducted from her apartment in Berkeley, Calif. A group of self-styled "urban guerrillas" claimed responsibility. After she was found she was convicted of being a willing participant with her captors in a bank robbery months after her abduction. Today, she's married to a former police officer and is an author.

And a convention in Montgomery, Ala., attended by delegates from six states -- Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina -- elected Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy on this date in 1861. He was a one-term president.

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


Today is Feb. 5.

It was on this date in 1991 -- as the air war against Iraq raged on -- that President Bush sent his top military advisers to Saudi Arabia to decide whether a ground assault was needed to liberate Iraqi-occupied Kuwait. They decided it was -- and U.S. troops marched into Kuwait City about 100 hours after the assault was launched. American-led allied forces rolled over Iraqi troops, who surrendered in droves.

Two federal grand juries in Florida announced indictments of Panama military strongman General Manuel Antonio Noriega and 16 associates on drug smuggling and money laundering charges on this date in 1988.

British clergyman Roger Williams arrived in Salem, Mass., on this date in 1631, seeking religious freedom and a new place to call home. He'd later found the colony of Rhode Island.

Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard and Edward Mitchell walked on the moon for four hours on this date in 1971. Shepard -- the first American in space -- also became the first person to play golf on the moon. Do lunar duffers strive for a crater-in-one instead of a hole-in-one?

Justice delayed turned out finally to be justice achieved on this date in 1994, when white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith was convicted of the 1963 murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. De La Beckwith died in 2002 in prison.

And Paul Simon's first solo single following his break-up with Art Garfunkel was released on this day in 1972. The song was "Mother and Child Reunion."

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


Today is Feb. 6.

President Clinton declared on this date in 1998 that he'd never consider resigning because of allegations that he'd had an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was still denying having anything to do with the young woman. Later on, he'd admit to "an improper relationship" with Monica.

It wasn't until this date in 1865, only a couple of months before the end of the Civil War, that Gen. Robert E. Lee was appointed commander in chief of the armies of the Confederacy.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was named commander of Allied expeditionary forces in North Africa on this day in 1943. He later became World War II Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

It was on this date in 1952 that Princess Elizabeth became sovereign of Great Britain upon the death of her father, King George VI. She was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953.

And the smoke cleared in 6,800 federal buildings nationwide on this day in 1987 when broad no-smoking rules took effect for 890,000 employees.

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


Today is Feb. 7.

It was on this date in 1964 that Beatlemania reached the shores of North America with the arrival of the Beatles at New York's Kennedy Airport. Thousands of screaming fans were on hand to welcome them. John, Paul, George and Ringo were in the United States for a brief tour and to perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Despite exchanges between Israel and the Palestinians that at times approached outright warfare, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon said in 2002 that he expected a Palestinian state to emerge from the conflict.

The Senate voted on this day in 1973 to set up a committee to investigate the break-in that had occurred the previous June at the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington, D.C.'s Watergate complex. What they would find was a cover-up that reached all the way to the Oval Office and led to the resignation of President Nixon in August 1974.

It was on this date in 1904 when fire broke out in downtown Baltimore and by the time it was put out 31 hours later, an 80-block area had been destroyed. Miraculously no live or homes were lost. Authorities believed a discarded cigarette had caused the fire.

D.W. Griffith's silent masterpiece "The Birth Of A Nation," a landmark in the history of cinema and the first American full-length motion picture, opened in Los Angeles on this date in 1915. It was a smash hit though many found its racist nature to be offensive. The still controversial movie had a rebirth on video in 2002.

On this date in 1986, both Ferdinand Marcos and challenger Corazon Aquino claimed victory in the Philippine presidential election. What became known as the "People's Revolution" would force Marcos and his family to flee the country later in the month, leaving behind Imelda's thousands of pairs of shoes.

Also in 1986, Haiti's President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier fled to France. "Baby Doc" -- as he was called, but probably not to his face -- had succeeded his dictator father, "Papa Doc," in ruling the Caribbean island nation with an iron fist.

Five years later, in 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was inaugurated as Haiti's first democratically elected president in 186 years. A military coup would later oust Aristide, but the threat of a U.S. invasion restored him to office.

Sen. Bob Packwood apparently had been a very busy man: on this date in 1993, another 13 women accused the Oregon Republican of improper advances, bringing the total to 23 women who had said the lawmaker harassed them with unwelcome sexual overtures.

And on this day in 1959, 1,000 mourners attended Buddy Holly's funeral in Lubbock, Texas. He'd been killed four days earlier -- along with J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and Richie Valens -- when their plane crashed in an Iowa cornfield.

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


Today is Feb. 8.

This was not a good day in 1587 for Mary, Queen of Scots. She was beheaded after being charged with conspiring to murder England's Queen Elizabeth I. Mary Stuart was, more or less, a victim of the political intrigues and the religious conflicts that stemmed from the Reformation and Henry VIII's split from the Roman Catholic Church.

This also wasn't a good day for disc jockeys when, in 1960, Congress opened hearings into "payola" -- with Alan Freed and Dick Clark among those accused of accepting bribes to play records on the air. Clark escaped the inquiry with his reputation intact, but Freed did not. He ended up pleading guilty to charges of commercial bribery and never worked in radio again. It was a sad end to the career of the man credited with coining the phrase "rock 'n' roll."

And on this date in 1993, General Motors announced it was suing NBC-TV, contending the network rigged a demonstration crash showing a GM pickup truck with "sidesaddle" fuel tank exploding into flames. "Sidesaddle" meant the gas tank was located outside the vehicle frame -- making it, according to critics, more prone to leaks and fire in the event of an accident.

In 2002 sports, the Winter Olympic Games got under way in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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


Today is Feb. 9.

A dark chapter in U.S. history began on this date in 1950 when, during a speech in Wheeling, W. Va., Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., charged the U.S. State Department was infested with communists. There would be congressional hearings, "witch hunts," and the blacklisting of Hollywood personalities and others before McCarthy was discredited and the "Red Scare" ended.

On this day in 1825, after no presidential candidate won the necessary majority, the House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams the sixth president of the United States. Adams, the first U.S. president whose father (John Adams) also was president (the second being George W. Bush), would later do something no American president has ever done since -- he would serve 17 years in Congress following his presidential term.

The revolving doors to the office of the Soviet presidency turned on this date in 1984 when Yuri Andropov, in power only 15 months following the death of Leonid Brezhnev, died at age 69. He was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko, who died 13 months later and was succeeded by Mikhail Gorbachev.

It was on this date in 1964 that the Beatles made the group's first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." The performance was barely audible over the screams of the largely young female audience. Afterwards, D.J. Murray the K -- known as the "fifth Beatles" -- took John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to a Playboy Club. George Harrison stayed back at the hotel with a cold.

And in 1994, a grand jury convened in Santa Barbara, Calif., to hear evidence in the allegations of child molestation that had been leveled against pop star Michael Jackson. No charges were ever filed.

In sports, the solid silver trophy known today as the Davis Cup was first put up for competition on this date in 1900. It all began when American collegian Dwight Filley Davis challenged British tennis players to come across the Atlantic and compete against his Harvard team.

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

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