Today in History

Today is Thursday, July 4, the 185th day of 2013. There are 180 days left in the year. This is Independence Day.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

On this date:

In 1802, the United States Military Academy officially opened at West Point, N.Y.

In 1831, the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, died in New York City at age 73.

In 1863, the Civil War Siege of Vicksburg, Miss., ended as a Confederate garrison surrendered to Union forces.

In 1872, the 30th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, was born in Plymouth, Vt.

In 1912, the 48-star American flag, recognizing New Mexico statehood, was adopted. A train wreck near Corning, N.Y., claimed 39 lives.

In 1939, Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees delivered his famous farewell speech in which he called himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

In 1942, Irving Berlin’s musical review “This Is the Army” opened at the Broadway Theater in New York.

In 1959, America’s 49-star flag, recognizing Alaskan statehood, was officially unfurled.

In 1960, America’s 50-star flag, recognizing Hawaiian statehood, was officially unfurled.

In 1976, Israeli commandos raided Entebbe (en-TEH’-bee) airport in Uganda (yoo-GAHN’-dah), rescuing almost all of the passengers and crew of an Air France jetliner seized by pro-Palestinian hijackers.

In 1982, the space shuttle Columbia concluded its fourth and final test flight with a smooth landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne married his manager, Sharon Arden, in Maui, Hawaii.

In 1987, Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” was convicted by a French court of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison (he died in September 1991).

Ten years ago: A speaker claiming to be Saddam Hussein called on Iraqis in a taped message to rally behind anti-U.S. resistance. President George W. Bush visited Dayton, Ohio, to praise the work of U.S. troops and celebrate the 100th anniversary of flight in the hometown of the Wright brothers. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman at a hotel near Vail, Colo. (Bryant denied assaulting the woman, but did acknowledge an adulterous encounter; prosecutors later dropped their case against Bryant because the woman did not want to go ahead with a trial.) Rhythm-and-blues singer Barry White died in Los Angeles at age 58.

Five years ago: Former Sen. Jesse Helms, an unyielding champion of the conservative movement who’d spent three combative and sometimes caustic decades in Congress, died in Raleigh, N.C., at age 86. Dara Torres completed her improbable Olympic comeback at age 41, making the U.S. team for the fifth time by winning the 100 freestyle at the trials in Omaha, Neb. Actress Evelyn Keyes died in Montecito, Calif., at age 91.

One year ago: Scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research in Geneva, where the world’s biggest atom smasher is located, cheered the apparent end of a decades-long quest for a new subatomic particle called the Higgs boson, or “God particle.” Three children drowned when a yacht carrying 27 people capsized in Long Island Sound off Oyster Bay, N.Y. Joey Chestnut won his sixth straight Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest at New York’s Coney Island, downing 68 dogs and buns to tie his personal best.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Eva Marie Saint is 89. Actress Gina Lollobrigida is 86. Playwright Neil Simon is 86. Country singer Ray Pillow is 76. Singer Bill Withers is 75. Actor Ed Bernard is 74. Actress Karolyn Grimes is 73. Broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera is 70. Rhythm-and-blues musician Ralph Johnson (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 62. Rock musician Domingo Ortiz (Widespread Panic) is 61. Singer John Waite is 58. Rock musician Kirk Pengilly (INXS) is 55. Country musician Teddy Carr is 53. Rock DJ Zonka is 51. Tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver is 51. Rock musician Matt Malley is 50. Christian rock singer Michael Sweet is 50. Actor Al Madrigal is 42. Actress Jenica Bergere is 39. Actor-singer John Lloyd Young is 38. Singer Stephen “Ste” McNally (BBMak) is 35. Actress Becki Newton is 35. TV personality Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is 31. Rhythm-and-blues singer Melanie Fiona is 30. Presidential daughter Malia Obama is 15.

Thought for Today: “If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence, it would have been worthwhile.” — Samuel Eliot Morison, American historian (1887-1976).

(Above Advance for Use Thursday, July 4)

Copyright 2013, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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