A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  April 8, 2003 at 3:15 AM
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Today is April 14.

President Lincoln was shot on this date in 1865 while watching a performance of "Our American Cousin" at the Ford Theater in Washington. He died the next morning and Vice President Andrew Johnson was sworn in as chief executive. The assassin was a young actor named John Wilkes Booth.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, latest in a long line of diplomats to try to defuse tensions in the Middle East and stop the wave of suicide bombings against Israel, met with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat on this date in 2002 but was told there would be no cease fire until the Israelis ended their military operation and pulled back.

On this date in 1986, U.S. warplanes bombed Libya in the biggest U.S. air strike since the Vietnam War. Libya claimed 40 people were killed, including a young daughter of Moammar Gadhafi. The attack had come in retaliation for the bombing of a West Berlin disco nine days earlier that had killed two U.S. servicemen. The United States blamed Libya for the bombing. Nearly two years later, West German authorities arrested a young woman in connection with the bombing and said it may have been the work of Syrian agents.

It may have been the shortest art heist in history. On this date in 1991, two gunmen stole 20 major paintings by Van Gogh from an Amsterdam museum. The art works were found abandoned 35 minutes later.

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet during a Time magazine interview on this date in 1997. Her very funny sitcom on ABC-TV did not long survive her confessions of being a lesbian.

And, in 2002 sports, Tiger Woods won his second straight Masters golf championship, and third overall.

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


Today is April 15.

Less than three hours after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic, the luxury liner Titanic -- on its first voyage from England to New York -- did what it supposedly was designed not to do. It sank. More than 1,500 lives were lost. About 700 people were rescued from the icy waters off Newfoundland by the liner Carpathia, which reached the scene about two hours after Titanic went down.

President Lincoln sent Congress a message on this date in 1861, recognizing a state of war with the Southern states and calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers.

On this date in 1999, astronomers from San Francisco State University, working at an observatory in Arizona, announced they had discovered evidence of a multi-planet solar system in the constellation Andromeda. It was the only known solar system other than our own.

The first McDonald's franchise opened on this date in 1955. Where? In the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, Ill. Ray Kroc had gotten the idea for what became his fast-food empire from a hamburger joint in San Bernardino, Calif., run by the McDonald brothers. Today, that first McDonald's in Des Plaines is a museum and a new, modern Mickey D's sits across the street.

And it was on this date in 1989 that Tone Loc's "Loc-ed After Dark" became the first rap album by a black artist to top the Billboard Top-200 album chart.

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


Today is April 16.

For a real blast from the past, look back to this day in 1947 in the Galveston Bay port of Texas City. A fire aboard the French freighter Grandcamp ignited ammonium nitrate and other volatile materials in the ship's hold, causing a massive explosion that destroyed much of the city and claimed nearly 600 lives.

It was on this date in 1862 that Congress abolished slavery in the District of Columbia. $1 million was appropriated to compensate the owners of freed slaves, and $100,000 was set aside for those slaves who wished to emigrate to Haiti, Liberia or any other country outside of the United States.

Apollo-16 blasted off for the moon with three American astronauts aboard on this date in 1972. The 11-day mission -- the second-to-last U.S. moon mission -- included 71 hours of exploration of the lunar surface.

It was the end of an era. On this date in 1999, "The Great One," Wayne Gretzky, 38, announced his retirement after 21 seasons of playing professional hockey. His last game with the New York Rangers was April 18. Gretzky held or shared 61 National Hockey League records and his claim to fame was leading the Edmondton Oilers to four Stanley Cup championships.

And the German band the Scorpions opened a string of 10 concerts in Leningrad and in Moscow on this date in 1988, becoming the first major hard rock group to play the Soviet Union.

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


Today is April 17.

The "Bay of Pigs" invasion was launched on this date in 1961. A force made up of more than 1,500 Cuban exiles invaded Cuba in an ill-fated attempt to overthrow Cuba's new communist government, headed by Fidel Castro. How much different history might've been had Castro made the American baseball team for which he tried out in the early 1950s.

A federal court jury on this date in 1993 convicted two Los Angeles police officers of violating Rodney King's civil rights in the black motorist's 1991 arrest and beating. Two other officers were acquitted. A year earlier, a jury in Simi Valley, Calif., had found the four officers not guilty of criminal charges in the case -- a verdict that triggered rioting in LA, which spread to several other cities.

The Pope excommunicated Martin Luther, a German priest, on this date in 1521 after he refused to admit to charges of heresy. It was Luther's rebellion against the Roman Catholic Church that led to the Reformation and the rise of the Protestant branch of Christianity.

And Paul McCartney's first post-Beatles solo album -- "McCartney" -- was released on this date in 1970. The same day, he announced the end of the Beatles.

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


Today is April 18.

A massive earthquake leveled much of the San Francisco business district -- some 10,000 acres -- on this date in 1906. The tremor collapsed buildings and ignited fires that destroyed much of what remained of the city. By the time it was over three days later, almost 500 people were dead and more than a quarter of a million had been left homeless.

It was on this date in 1945 that America lost its most popular World War II reporter. Ernie Pyle was killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on the island of Ie Shima in the Pacific.

In 2002, actor Robert Blake was arrested in connection with the murder of his wife in Los Angeles. Four days later he pleaded innocent when formally charged in the shooting. His former bodyguard was charged with conspiracy.

"The British are coming, the British are coming." The "midnight ride" of Paul Revere and William Dawes began about 10 p.m. on this date in 1775. They were warning American patriots between Boston and Concord, Mass., about the approaching British.

And on this date in 1992, an 11-year-old Florida boy sued to "divorce" his natural parents and remain with his foster parents. The boy eventually won his suit.

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


Today is April 19.

It was the worst instance of terrorism on U.S. soil. On this date in 1995, 168 people were killed -- including 19 children at a day care center-- and more than 400 injured when a car bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Okla. A decorated Gulf War veteran, Timothy McVeigh, and an army buddy, Terry Nichols, were later convicted in connection with the bombing. McVeigh reportedly had been deeply angered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' attack on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, exactly two years earlier. The ATF had offices in the building.

On June 11, 2001, McVeigh was executed by lethal injection at the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. He had dropped the appeals of his death sentence and said he wanted to die.

As we mentioned above, the 51-day Branch Davidian standoff near Waco, Texas, ended tragically on this date in 1993 when a fire destroyed the fortified compound after authorities tear-gassed the place. Cult leader David Koresh and 85 followers were killed.

It was one of the worst naval disasters since the Vietnam War. On this date in 1989, a freak explosion in a gun turret aboard the battleship USS Iowa killed 47 sailors. The blast occurred during gunnery exercises about 300 miles northeast of Puerto Rico.

The American Revolutionary War began at the Battle of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts on this date in 1775. It was "the shot heard 'round the world." Eight Minutemen were killed and 10 wounded in an exchange of musket fire with British Redcoats.

A 6-year-old Cuban refugee was very much in the news on this date in 2000. A federal appeals court ruled that Elian Gonzalez, whose mother had died during their journey to America, may stay in the United States until the court heard the full appeal from his relatives, who sought to retain custody of the boy. Eventually, he returned to Cuba with his father.

And on this date in 1992, a series of watercolors depicting members of the British royal family nude caused a stir with London's Fleet Street newspapers. The queen was not amused.

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


Today is April 20.

Horror at a suburban Denver high school. On this date in 1999, two heavily armed Columbine High School students -- later identified by authorities in Littleton, Colo., as Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17 -- entered the building and opened fire on their fellow students. They killed 12 teenagers and a teacher before turning their guns on themselves. It was by far the worst in a series of school shootings.

In 2002, Pope John Paul spoke out on the sex scandal that had shaken the Roman Catholic clergy. He said bishops must "diligently investigate accusations" against priests who broke their vows of celibacy.

It was on this date in 735 B.C., according to the Roman historian Varro, that Romulus founded the city of Rome.

The U.S. Supreme Court on this date in 1976 ruled that federal courts could order low-cost housing for minorities in a city's white suburbs to ease racial segregation.

Congress took a swipe at the KKK in 1871, passing the Third Force Act, popularly known as the Ku Klux Act. The new law authorized President Ulysses S. Grant to declare martial law, impose heavy penalties against terrorist organizations and use military force to suppress the Klan.

Elton John, Guns N' Roses, Roger Daltrey, Liza Minnelli, David Bowie, George Michael, Def Leppard, and Spinal Tap joined the surviving members of Queen at an AIDS Concert for Life on this date in 1992. The show honored Queen's lead singer Freddie Mercury, who'd died of AIDS the previous November. More than 70,000 people attended the concert at London's Wembley Stadium.

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

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