Today’s Highlight in History:
On Aug. 24, 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces invaded Washington D.C., setting fire to the Capitol (which was still under construction) and the White House, as well as other public buildings.
On this date:
In A.D. 79, long-dormant Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in volcanic ash; an estimated 20,000 people died.
In 1572, the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of French Protestants at the hands of Catholics began in Paris.
In 1821, the Treaty of Cordoba was signed, granting independence to Mexico from Spanish rule.
In 1912, Congress passed a measure creating the Alaska Territory. Congress approved legislation establishing Parcel Post delivery by the U.S. Post Office Department, slated to begin on January 1, 1913.
In 1932, Amelia Earhart embarked on a 19-hour flight from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, making her the first woman to fly solo, non-stop, from coast to coast.
In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty came into force.
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Communist Control Act, outlawing the Communist Party in the United States.
In 1964, the first Roman Catholic Mass celebrated in English took place at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis.
In 1970, an explosives-laden van left by anti-war extremists blew up outside the University of Wisconsin’s Sterling Hall in Madison, killing 33-year-old researcher Robert Fassnacht.
In 1989, Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti (juh-MAH’-tee) banned Pete Rose from the game for betting on his own team, the Cincinnati Reds.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida, causing $30 billion in damage; 43 U.S. deaths were blamed on the storm.
In 2006, the International Astronomical Union declared that Pluto was no longer a planet, demoting it to the status of a “dwarf planet.”
Ten years ago: An independent commission said the blame for abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison lay mainly with the American soldiers who ran the jail, but said senior commanders and top-level Pentagon officials could also be faulted for failed leadership and oversight. Chechen separatists set off bombs aboard two Russian airliners that crashed after taking off from the same Moscow airport, killing 90 people. Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who famously theorized that terminally ill patients go through five stages of grief, died in Scottsdale, Arizona, at age 78.
Five years ago: All sales under the government’s Cash for Clunkers program came to an end, although car dealers were given more time to submit pending claims for reimbursement. Scotland’s justice minister, Kenny MacAskill, defended his much-criticized decision to free Abdel Baset al-Megrahi (AHB’-dehl BAH’-seht AH’-lee ahl-meh-GRAH’-hee), convicted of being the Lockerbie bomber, on compassionate grounds.
One year ago: Tens of thousands of people marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and down the National Mall, commemorating the 50th anniversary of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech (delivered on August 28, 1963). Julie Harris, 87, one of Broadway’s most honored performers, died in West Chatham, Massachusetts.
Today’s Birthdays: Former Education Secretary Shirley Hufstedler is 89. Actor Kenny Baker (“Star Wars”) is 80. Composer-musician Mason Williams is 76. Rhythm-and-blues singer Marshall Thompson (The Chi-Lites) is 72. Rock musician Ken Hensley is 69. Actress Anne Archer is 67. Actor Joe Regalbuto is 65. Actor Kevin Dunn is 59. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is 59. Actor-writer Stephen Fry is 57. Actor Steve Guttenberg is 56. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken Jr. is 54. Actor Jared Harris is 53. Talk show host Craig Kilborn is 52. CBS News correspondent Major Garrett is 52. Rock singer John Bush is 51. Actress Marlee Matlin is 49. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller is 49. Broadcast journalist David Gregory (“Meet the Press”) is 44. Country singer Kristyn Osborn (SHeDaisy) is 44. Actor-comedian Dave Chappelle is 41. Actor Carmine Giovinazzo is 41. Actor Alex O’Loughlin is 38. Actress Beth Riesgraf is 36. Actor Chad Michael Murray is 33. Christian rock musician Jeffrey Gilbert (Kutless) is 31. Singer Mika is 31. Actor Blake Berris (TV: “Days of Our Lives”) is 30. Actor Rupert Grint (“Harry Potter” films) is 26.
Thought for Today: “Of the twenty or so civilizations known to modern Western historians, all except our own appear to be dead or moribund, and, when we diagnose each case… we invariably find that the cause of death has been either War or Class or some combination of the two.” – Arnold J. Toynbee, English historian (1889-1975).
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