Today in History

Today is Thursday, Jan. 26, the 26th day of 2017. There are 339 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Jan. 26, 1942, the first American Expeditionary Force to head to Europe during World War II arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

On this date:

  • In 1784, in a letter to his daughter Sarah, Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness over the choice of the bald eagle as the symbol of America, and stated his own preference: the turkey.
  • In 1788, the first European settlers in Australia, led by Capt. Arthur Phillip, landed in present-day Sydney.
  • In 1837, Michigan became the 26th state.
  • In 1870, Virginia rejoined the Union.
  • In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Rocky Mountain National Park Act, which created America’s 10th national park.
  • In 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, rebel forces led by Gen. Francisco Franco captured Barcelona.
  • In 1950, India officially proclaimed itself a republic as Rajendra Prasad took the oath of office as president.
  • In 1962, the United States launched Ranger 3 to land scientific instruments on the moon — but the probe ended up missing its target by more than 22,000 miles.
  • In 1979, former vice president Nelson A. Rockefeller died in New York at age 70.
  • In 1988, Australians celebrated the 200th anniversary of their country as a grand parade of tall ships re-enacted the voyage of the first European settlers. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Phantom of the Opera” opened at Broadway’s Majestic Theater.
  • In 1992, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton, appearing with his wife, Hillary, on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” acknowledged “causing pain in my marriage,” but said past problems were not relevant to the campaign.
  • In 1998, President Bill Clinton forcefully denied having an affair with a former White House intern, telling reporters, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

Ten years ago: The White House said President George W. Bush had authorized U.S. forces in Iraq to take whatever actions were necessary to counter Iranian agents deemed a threat to American troops or the public at large. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a news conference that a congressional resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq undercut U.S. commanders and emboldened the enemy. Nine black youths were convicted in juvenile court in Long Beach, California, of beating three white women in a racially charged attack on Halloween night. (The nine were later sentenced to probation and house arrest after spending about three months in custody during their trials.)

Five years ago: The Pentagon outlined a plan for slowing the growth of military spending, including cutting the size of the Army and Marine Corps, retiring older planes and trimming war costs. An aggressive Mitt Romney repeatedly challenged Republican rival Newt Gingrich in their final debate before the critical Florida primary. Capping three days of mourning, some 12,000 people — including Penn State students, fans and football stars — paid tribute to the late Joe Paterno in a campus memorial service that exposed a strong undercurrent of anger over his firing. Actor Robert Hegyes, 60, died in Edison, New Jersey.

One year ago: The FBI arrested the leaders of an armed group that was occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon for more than three weeks during a traffic stop that left one man, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, dead. Pope Francis held talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican, calling on Tehran to play a key role in stopping the spread of terrorism. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that its symbolic “Doomsday Clock” remained at three minutes to midnight, citing rising tension between Russia and the U.S., North Korea’s recent nuclear test and a lack of aggressive steps to address climate change. Character actor Abe Vigoda, 94, died in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Anne Jeffreys is 94. Cartoonist Jules Feiffer is 88. Sportscaster-actor Bob Uecker is 82. Actor Scott Glenn is 78. Singer Jean Knight is 74. Activist Angela Davis is 73. Actor Richard Portnow is 70. Rock musician Corky Laing (Mountain) is 69. Actor David Strathairn is 68. Alt-country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams is 64. Rock singer-musician Eddie Van Halen is 62. Reggae musician Norman Hassan (UB40) is 59. Actress-comedian-talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is 59. Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky is 56. Musician Andrew Ridgeley is 54. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jazzie B. (Soul II Soul) is 54. Actor Paul Johansson is 53. Director Lenny Abrahamson is 51. Actor Bryan Callen is 50. Gospel singer Kirk Franklin is 47. Actor Nate Mooney is 45. Actress Jennifer Crystal is 44. Rock musician Chris Hesse (Hoobastank) is 43. Actor Gilles Marini is 41. Gospel singer Tye Tribbett is 41. NBA player Vince Carter is 40. Actress Sarah Rue is 39. Actor Colin O’Donoghue is 36. Country musician Michael Martin (Marshall Dyllon) is 34.

Thought for Today: “Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet, dramatist and author (1749-1832).

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