Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, October 21, the 294th day of 2015. There are 71 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On October 21, 1892, schoolchildren across the U.S. observed Columbus Day (according to the Gregorian calendar) by reciting, for the first time, the original version of “The Pledge of Allegiance,” written by Francis Bellamy for The Youth’s Companion. The pledge, which has been revised several times, originally went, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

On this date:

In 1797, the U.S. Navy frigate Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides,” was christened in Boston’s harbor.

In 1805, a British fleet commanded by Adm. Horatio Nelson defeated a French-Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar; Nelson, however, was killed.

In 1879, Thomas Edison perfected a workable electric light at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

In 1917, members of the 1st Division of the U.S. Army training in Luneville (luhn-nay-VEEL’), France, became the first Americans to see action on the front lines of World War I.

In 1944, during World War II, U.S. troops captured the German city of Aachen (AH’-kuhn).

In 1945, women in France were allowed to vote in parliamentary elections for the first time.

In 1959, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opened to the public in New York.

In 1960, Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon clashed in their fourth and final presidential debate in New York.

In 1967, the Israeli destroyer INS Eilat was sunk by Egyptian missile boats near Port Said (sah-EED’); 47 Israeli crew members were lost.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon nominated Lewis F. Powell and William H. Rehnquist to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Both nominees were confirmed.)

In 1985, former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White — who’d served five years in prison for killing Mayor George Moscone (mahs-KOH’-nee) and Supervisor Harvey Milk, a gay-rights advocate — was found dead in a garage, a suicide.

In 1995, Maxene Andrews of the Andrews Sisters died in Hyannis, Massachusetts, at age 79.

Ten years ago: Hurricane Wilma tore into Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula as a Category 4 storm, after killing 13 people in Haiti and Jamaica. The Kansas Supreme Court unanimously struck down a state law that punished underage sex more severely if it involved homosexual acts, saying “moral disapproval” of such conduct was not enough to justify the different treatment.

Five years ago: Eight current and former officials pleaded not guilty to looting millions of dollars from California’s modest blue-collar city of Bell. (Seven defendants ended up being convicted, and received sentences ranging from home confinement to 12 years in prison.) French police used tear gas and water cannon against rampaging youth in Lyon while the French government showed its muscle in parliament, short-circuiting tense Senate debate on a bill raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. James F. Neal, the attorney who prosecuted Jimmy Hoffa and key Watergate figures, and defended Elvis Presley’s doctor and the Exxon Corp. after the Alaska oil spill, died in Nashville at age 81.

One year ago: In South Africa, Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp; legal analysts said under the law, the man known as the “Blade Runner” because of his carbon-fiber running blades, would have to serve 10 months, or one-sixth of his sentence, in prison before he was eligible for house arrest. North Korea abruptly freed Jeffrey Fowle, an American, nearly six months after he was arrested for leaving a Bible in a nightclub. Former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, 93, died in Washington. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals 7-1 in the first game of the World Series.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Joyce Randolph is 91. Author Ursula K. Le Guin is 86. Rock singer Manfred Mann is 75. Musician Steve Cropper (Booker T. & the MG’s) is 74. Singer Elvin Bishop is 73. TV’s Judge Judy Sheindlin is 73. Actor Everett McGill is 70. Musician Lee Loughnane (LAHK’-nayn) (Chicago) is 69. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is 66. Actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson is 66. Musician Charlotte Caffey (The Go-Go’s) is 62. Movie director Catherine Hardwicke is 60. Actress-author Carrie Fisher is 59. Singer Julian Cope is 58. Rock musician Steve Lukather (Toto) is 58. Actor Ken Watanabe (wah-tah-NAH’-bee) is 56. Actress Melora Walters is 55. Rock musician Che (chay) Colovita Lemon is 45. Rock singer-musician Nick Oliveri (Mondo Generator) is 44. Christian rock musician Charlie Lowell (Jars of Clay) is 42. Actor Jeremy Miller is 39. Actor Will Estes is 37. Actor Michael McMillian is 37. Reality TV star Kim Kardashian (kahr-DASH’-ee-uhn) is 35. Actor Matt Dallas is 33. Actress Charlotte Sullivan is 32. Actor Aaron Tveit (tuh-VAYT’) is 32.

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