Today in History

AP News
|
Posted: Feb 21, 2016 12:01 AM

Today in History

Today is Sunday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2016. There are 314 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 21, 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.

On this date:

In 1437, James I, King of Scots, was assassinated; his 6-year-old son succeeded him as James II.

In 1513, Pope Julius II, who'd commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, died nearly four months after the project was completed.

In 1613, Mikhail Romanov, 16, was unanimously chosen by Russia's national assembly to be czar, beginning a dynasty that would last three centuries.

In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.

In 1912, the Great Fifth Ward Fire broke out in Houston, Texas; although property losses topped $3 million, no one was killed in the blaze.

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 1958, the USS Gudgeon (SS-567) became the first American submarine to complete a round-the-world cruise, eight months after departing from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

In 1965, black Muslim leader 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.)

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Beijing.

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 prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up (each ended up serving a year and a-half).

In 1986, Larry Wu-tai Chin, the first American found guilty of spying for China, killed himself in his Virginia jail cell.

In 1995, Chicago adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean by balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush endorsed the takeover of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates, and pledged to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement. Donald Herbert, a brain-injured Buffalo, New York, firefighter who suddenly spoke after nearly a decade in a near-vegetative state, died at age 44. Harvard University president Lawrence H. Summers announced his resignation.

Five 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.

One year ago: U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made his international debut with a visit to Afghanistan to see American troops and commanders, meet with Afghan leaders and assess whether U.S. withdrawal plans were too risky to Afghan security. Activists, actors, and politicians gathered in New York City at the place where civil rights leader Malcolm X was shot to death 50 years earlier. Jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, 94, died in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Today's Birthdays: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is 92. Fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy is 89. Movie director Bob Rafelson is 83. Actor Gary Lockwood is 79. Actor-director Richard Beymer is 77. Actor Peter McEnery is 76. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is 76. Film/music company executive David Geffen is 73. Actress Tyne Daly is 70. Actor Anthony Daniels is 70. Tricia Nixon Cox is 70. Former Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 69. Rock musician Jerry Harrison (The Heads) is 67. Actress Christine Ebersole is 63. Actor William Petersen is 63. Actor Kelsey Grammer is 61. Country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 58. Actor Kim Coates is 58. Actor Jack Coleman is 58. Actor Christopher Atkins is 55. Rock singer Ranking Roger is 55. Actor William Baldwin is 53. Rock musician Michael Ward is 49. Actress Aunjanue Ellis is 47. Blues musician Corey Harris is 47. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 46. Rock musician Eric Wilson is 46. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 43. Singer Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) is 39. Actor Tituss Burgess is 37. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is 37. Actor Brendan Sexton III is 36. Singer Charlotte Church is 30. Actress Ashley Greene is 29. Actress Ellen Page is 29. Actor Corbin Bleu is 27. Actress Hayley Orrantia is 22. Actress Sophie Turner is 20.

Thought for Today: "There is nothing more horrifying than stupidity in action." — Adlai E. Stevenson, American politician and diplomat (1900-1965).