Today in History

Today is Sunday, Feb. 8, the 39th day of 2015. There are 326 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 8, 1915, D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking as well as controversial silent movie epic about the Civil War, “The Birth of a Nation,” premiered in Los Angeles.

On this date:

In 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in England after she was implicated in a plot to murder her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1862, the Civil War Battle of Roanoke Island, North Carolina, ended in victory for Union forces led by Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside.

In 1904, the Russo-Japanese War, a conflict over control of Manchuria and Korea, began as Japanese forces attacked Port Arthur.

In 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated.

In 1925, Academy Award-winning actor Jack Lemmon was born in Newton, Massachusetts.

In 1942, during World War II, Japanese forces began invading Singapore, which fell a week later.

In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed her accession to the British throne following the death of her father, King George VI.

In 1965, Eastern Air Lines Flight 663, a DC-7, crashed shortly after takeoff from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport; all 84 people on board were killed. The Supremes’ record “Stop! In the Name of Love!” was released by Motown.

In 1968, three college students were killed in a confrontation with highway patrolmen in Orangeburg, South Carolina, during a civil rights protest against a whites-only bowling alley.

In 1974, the last three-man crew of the Skylab space station returned to Earth after spending 84 days in space. (Skylab remained in orbit another five years before plunging to its destruction in 1979.)

In 1985, the crime drama “Witness,” starring Harrison Ford, was released by Paramount Pictures.

In 1989, 144 people were killed when an American-chartered Boeing 707 filled with Italian tourists slammed into a fog-covered mountain in the Azores.

Ten years ago: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (ah-ree-EL’ shah-ROHN’) and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (mahk-MOOD’ ah-BAHS’) announced a cease-fire at a summit in Egypt. An earlier-than-usual Mardi Gras festival opened in New Orleans with sparse crowds. Longtime CBS newsman George Herman died in Washington, D.C. at age 85. Doobie Brothers drummer Keith Knudsen died in Kentfield, California, at age 56.

Five years ago: Endeavour and six astronauts rocketed into orbit, hauling a new room and observation deck for the International Space Station. Michael Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of the pop superstar in Los Angeles Superior Court. (Murray was convicted in 2011 and served two years in jail.) The Nielsen Co. estimated that 106.5 million people watched the New Orleans Saints upset the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl, beating the 1983 “M-A-S-H” finale, which had 105.97 million viewers. U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., died at a hospital in Arlington, Virginia, at age 77.

One year ago: In an assertion of same-sex marriage rights, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that same-sex spouses could not be compelled to testify against each other, should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and were entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages. On the first day of medal competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics, Sven Kramer of the Netherlands led a clean sweep by the Dutch in the men’s 5,000-meter speed skating while in slopestyle’s Olympic debut, U.S. snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won the first gold medal of the games.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Jack Larson (TV: “Adventures of Superman”) is 87. Composer-conductor John Williams is 83. Newscaster Ted Koppel is 75. Actor Nick Nolte is 74. Comedian Robert Klein is 73. Actor-rock musician Creed Bratton is 72. Singer Ron Tyson is 67. Actress Brooke Adams is 66. Actress Mary Steenburgen is 62. Author John Grisham is 60. Retired NBA All-Star and College Basketball Hall of Famer Marques Johnson is 59. Actor Henry Czerny is 56. The president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, is 55. Rock singer Vince Neil (Motley Crue) is 54. Rock singer-musician Sammy Llanas (YAH’-nus) (The BoDeans) is 54. Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa P. Jackson is 53. Movie producer Toby Emmerich is 52. Actress Mary McCormack is 46. Rock musician Keith Nelson (Buckcherry) is 46. Retired NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning is 45. Dance musician Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (Daft Punk) is 41. Actor Seth Green is 41. Actor Josh Morrow is 41. Rock musician Phoenix (Linkin Park) is 38. Actor Jim Parrack is 34. Folk singer-musician Joey Ryan (Milk Carton Kids) is 33. Actress-comedian Cecily Strong is 31. Rock musician Jeremy Davis (Paramore) is 30. Rock musician Max Grahn (Carolina Liar) is 27. Actor Ryan Pinkston is 27. Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton is 25. Actress Karle Warren is 23.

Thought for Today: “If each man or woman could understand that every other human life is as full of sorrows, or joys, or base temptations, of heartaches and of remorse as his own… how much kinder, how much gentler he would be.” – William Allen White, American journalist (1868-1944).

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