Today in History
Today is Sunday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2021. There are 313 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 21, 1965, minister and civil rights activist Malcolm X, 39, was shot to death inside Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom in New York by assassins identified as members of the Nation of Islam. (Three men were convicted of murder and imprisoned; all were eventually paroled.)
On this date:
In 1862, Nathaniel Gordon became the first and only American slave-trader to be executed under the U.S. Piracy Law of 1820 as he was hanged in New York.
In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.
In 1916, the World War I Battle of Verdun began in France as German forces attacked; the French were able to prevail after 10 months of fighting.
In 1945, during the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, the escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea was sunk by kamikazes with the loss of 318 men.
In 1964, the first shipment of U.S. wheat purchased by the Soviet Union arrived in the port of Odessa.
In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Beijing.
In 1973, Israeli fighter planes shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai Desert, killing all but five of the 113 people on board.
In 1975, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 2 1/2 to 8 years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up (each ended up serving a year and a-half).
In 1995, Chicago adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean by balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.
In 2005, President George W. Bush, in Belgium for a NATO summit, scolded Russia for backsliding on democracy and urged Mideast allies to take difficult steps for peace.
In 2010, a mistaken U.S. missile attack killed 23 civilians in Afghanistan. (Four American officers were later reprimanded.) The United States stunned Canada 5-3 to advance to the Olympic men’s hockey quarterfinals in Vancouver. Bode (BOH’-dee) Miller finally captured his elusive gold medal, winning the super-combined for his third medal in three events.
In 2018, the Rev. Billy Graham, a confidant of presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died at his North Carolina home; he was 99. A week after the Florida school shooting, President Donald Trump met with teen survivors of school violence and parents of slain children; Trump promised to be “very strong on background checks” and suggested he supported letting some teachers and other school employees carry weapons.
Ten years ago: Deep cracks opened in Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, with Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigning, air force pilots defecting and a major government building ablaze after clashes in the capital of Tripoli. Yemen’s embattled leader, President Ali Abdullah Saleh (AH’-lee ahb-DUH’-luh sah-LEH’), rejected demands that he step down, calling demonstrations against his regime unacceptable acts of provocation and offering to begin a dialogue with protesters.
Five years ago: Bombings claimed by the Islamic State group in the Syrian cities of Damascus and Homs killed nearly 130 people. Pope Francis, speaking at the Vatican, urged Catholic leaders to show “exemplary” courage by not allowing executions “in this Holy Year of Mercy.” Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500, edging Martin Truex Jr. by inches at the finish line.
One year ago: Health officials said at least 18 Americans who’d returned home from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan were infected with the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the U.S. to at least 35. Italy reported its first coronavirus death as the number of confirmed cases in Italy more than quadrupled. A temporary truce between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan took effect, setting the stage for the two sides to sign a peace deal the following week. Greyhound, the nation’s largest bus company, said it would stop allowing Border Patrol agents without a warrant to board its buses to conduct routine immigration checks. Wells Fargo agreed to pay $3 billion to settle criminal and civil investigations into a long-running practice in which employees opened millions of unauthorized bank accounts in order to meet sales goals.
Today’s Birthdays: Movie director Bob Rafelson is 88. Actor Gary Lockwood is 84. Actor-director Richard Beymer is 82. Actor Peter McEnery is 81. Film/music company executive David Geffen is 78. Actor Tyne Daly is 75. Actor Anthony Daniels is 75. Tricia Nixon Cox is 75. Former Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 74. Rock musician Jerry Harrison (The Heads) is 72. Actor Christine Ebersole is 68. Actor William Petersen is 68. Actor Kelsey Grammer is 66. Singer/guitarist Larry Campbell is 66. Country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 63. Actor Kim Coates is 63. Actor Jack Coleman is 63. Actor Christopher Atkins is 60. Actor William Baldwin is 58. Rock musician Michael Ward is 54. Actor Aunjanue Ellis is 52. Blues musician Corey Harris is 52. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 51. Rock musician Eric Wilson is 51. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 48. Singer Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) is 44. Actor Tituss Burgess is 42. Actor Jennifer Love Hewitt is 42. Comedian-actor Jordan Peele is 42. Actor Brendan Sexton III is 41. Singer Charlotte Church is 35. Actor Ashley Greene is 34. Actor Elliot Page (formerly Ellen Page) is 34. Actor Corbin Bleu is 32. Actor Hayley Orrantia is 27. Actor Sophie Turner is 25.