Today In History...

In 1787 Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the constitution.
In 1836 Martin Van Buren is elected the 8th U.S. president.
In 1941 At 7:55am on a Sunday morning, Pearl Harbor is attacked by carrier based Japanese planes killing 2300. The following day in his war speech to Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt called it "a day which will live in infamy."
In 1946 A fire at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, kills 119 people.
In 1953 Israel's Prime Minister Ben-Gureon retires.
In 1965 Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I simultaneously lift the mutual excommunications that had led to the split of the two churches in 1054.
In 1972 America's last manned moon mission to date, Apollo XVII, is launched.
In 1972 Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, is stabbed and seriously wounded.
In 1973 The banana eating record was first set at 17 in two minutes.
In 1979 Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Harvard's first woman professor dies.
In 1983 An Aviaco DC-9 collides on a runway with an Iberia Air Lines Boeing 727 accelerating for takeoff in Madrid, Spain, killing all 42 people aboard the DC-9 and 51 aboard the Iberia jet.
In 1985 Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart dies at age 70.
In 1982 Texas abandons the electric chair for lethal injection when Charlie Brooks Jr. is executed in Huntsville.
In 1984 South African Bishop Desmond Tutu meets at the White House with President Reagan.
In 1986 Student protests in Paris sparked by proposed educational reforms continue to escalate as dozens of people clash with police in the Latin Quarter.
In 1987 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visits America for the first time.
In 1987 43 people are killed in the crash of a Pacific Southwest Airlines jetliners in California when a gunman opens fire on a fellow passenger and the two pilots.
In 1988 A major earthquake in the Soviet Union, measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale, devastates northern Armenia. Official estimates put the death toll at over 25,000.
In 1989 East Germany's Communist Party agrees to cooperate with the opposition in paving the way for free elections and a revised constitution.
In 1990 President Bush arrives in Venezuela on the last stop of his South American tour.
In 1991 50 years after Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, a visibly moved President Bush leads the nation in services commemorating the day that brought the U.S. into World War II.
In 1992 The U.S. Supreme Court rejects the challenge to a Mississippi abortion law which required women to get counseling and then wait 24 hours before terminating their pregnancies.
In 1993 A gunman opens fire on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train, killing six people and wounding 17.
In 1993 Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary reveals that the government had conducted more than 200 nuclear weapons tests in secret.
In 1993 Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders suggests that the government study the impact of drug legalization.
In 1994 PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Gaza City, pledges to protect Israelis from militant extremists.
In 1995 A Russian-built Tupolev 154 carrying 97 people disappears from radar screens along forested mountains of Russia's Far East.
In 1995 A 746-pound probe from the "Galileo" spacecraft hurtled into Jupiter's atmosphere, sending back data to the mothership before it was presumably destroyed.
In 1996 The space shuttle Columbia lands at the Kennedy Space Center, ending a nearly 18-day mission marred by a jammed hatch that prevented two planned spacewalks.
In 1997 Republicans threaten Attorney General Janet Reno with contempt of Congress over her decision to forgo an independent counsel's investigation of White House campaign fund raising.
In 1998 The UN evacuates 14 peacekeepers trapped by fighting between army and rebel forces in central Angola.
In 1998 Attorney General Janet Reno declines to seek an independent counsel investigation of President Clinton over 1996 campaign financing.
In 1999 NASA scientists all but gave up hope of contacting the Mars Polar Lander, last heard from four days earlier.
In 2002 President Saddam Hussein grudgingly apologizes to Kuwait for his 1990 invasion.
In 2002 Miss Turkey Azra Akin win Miss World in London, bringing to a close an international pageant that had incited deadly rioting in Nigeria, the original site of the event.
In 2003 Allies of President Vladimir Putin win a sweeping victory in Russia's parliamentary elections.
In 2004 Amway co-founder Jay Van Andel dies at age 80.
In 2011 Harry Morgan, who appeared in more than 100 films but was best known for TV roles including "Dragnet" and "M*A*S*H," dies at age 96.


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