Today in History
Today is Wednesday, May 12, the 132nd day of 2021. There are 233 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlights in History:
On May 12, 1949, the Soviet Union lifted the Berlin Blockade, which the Western powers had succeeded in circumventing with their Berlin Airlift.
On this date:
In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, the besieged city of Charleston, South Carolina, surrendered to British forces.
In 1937, Britain’s King George VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey; his wife, Elizabeth, was crowned as queen consort.
In 1943, during World War II, Axis forces in North Africa surrendered. The two-week Trident Conference, headed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, opened in Washington.
In 1955, Manhattan’s last elevated rail line, the Third Avenue El, ceased operation.
In 1958, the United States and Canada signed an agreement to create the North American Air Defense Command (later the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD).
In 1970, the Senate voted unanimously to confirm Harry A. Blackmun as a Supreme Court justice.
In 1975, the White House announced the new Cambodian government had seized an American merchant ship, the Mayaguez, in international waters. (U.S. Marines gained control of the ship three days after its seizure, not knowing the 39 civilian members of the crew had already been released by Cambodia.)
In 1982, in Fatima, Portugal, security guards overpowered a Spanish priest armed with a bayonet who attacked Pope John Paul II. (In 2008, the pope’s longtime private secretary revealed that the pontiff was slightly wounded in the assault.)
In 1997, Australian Susie Maroney became the first woman to swim from Cuba to Florida, covering the 118-mile distance in 24 1/2 hours.
In 2002, Jimmy Carter arrived in Cuba, becoming the first U.S. president in or out of office to visit since the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power.
In 2008, a devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake in China’s Sichuan province left more than 87,000 people dead or missing.
In 2009, five Miami men were convicted in a plot to blow up FBI buildings and Chicago’s Sears Tower; one man was acquitted. Suspected Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk (dem-YAHN’-yuk) was deported from the United States to Germany.
Ten years ago: CEOs of the five largest oil companies went before the Senate Finance Committee, where Democrats challenged the executives to justify tax breaks at a time when people were paying $4 a gallon for gas. A German court convicted retired U.S. autoworker John Demjanjuk of being an accessory to the murder of tens of thousands of Jews as a Nazi death camp guard. (Demjanjuk, who maintained his innocence, died in March 2012 at age 91.)
Five years ago: A divided U.S. Supreme Court blocked the execution of an Alabama inmate so that a lower court could review claims that strokes and dementia had rendered him incompetent to understand his looming death sentence. (A federal appeals court ruled in March 2017 that Vernon Madison was incompetent, and could not be executed.)
One year ago: House Democrats unveiled a coronavirus aid package totaling more than $3 trillion, including nearly $1 trillion for states and cities to avert layoffs and a fresh round of direct cash aid to American households. (The measure won House approval but Senate Republicans and the White House rejected it as too costly.) Dr. Anthony Fauci warned a Senate panel that cities and states could “turn back the clock” and see more COVID-19 deaths and economic damage if they lifted stay-at-home orders too quickly. German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, who shot some of the earliest and most striking images of the Beatles and helped shape their visual style, died at age 81 in her native Hamburg.
Today’s Birthdays: Composer Burt Bacharach is 93. Actor Millie Perkins is 85. R&B singer Jayotis Washington is 80. Country singer Billy Swan is 79. Actor Linda Dano is 78. Actor Lindsay Crouse is 73. Singer-musician Steve Winwood is 73. Actor Gabriel Byrne is 71. Actor Bruce Boxleitner is 71. Singer Billy Squier is 71. Blues singer-musician Guy Davis is 69. Country singer Kix Brooks is 66. Actor Kim Greist is 63. Rock musician Eric Singer (KISS) is 63. Actor Ving Rhames is 62. Rock musician Billy Duffy is 60. Actor Emilio Estevez is 59. Actor April Grace is 59. Actor Vanessa A. Williams is 58. TV personality/chef Carla Hall is 57. Actor Stephen Baldwin is 55. Actor Scott Schwartz is 53. Actor Kim Fields is 52. Actor Samantha Mathis is 51. Actor Jamie Luner is 50. Actor Christian Campbell is 49. Actor Rhea Seehorn is 49. Actor Mackenzie Astin is 48. Country musician Matt Mangano (The Zac Brown Band) is 45. Actor Rebecca Herbst is 44. Actor Malin (MAH’-lin) Akerman is 43. Actor Jason Biggs is 43. Actor Rami Malek (RAH’-mee MA’-lihk) is 40. Actor-singer Clare Bowen is 37. Actor Emily VanCamp is 35. Actor Malcolm David Kelley is 29. Actor Sullivan Sweeten is 26.