Today in History: Vesuvius wakes up

Today in History

Today is Friday, Aug. 24, the 236th day of 2018. There are 129 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On August 24, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty came into force.

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On this date:

In A.D. 79, long-dormant Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in volcanic ash; an estimated 20,000 people died.

In A.D. 410, Rome was overrun by the Visigoths, a major event in the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces invaded Washington, D.C., setting fire to the Capitol (which was still under construction) and the White House, as well as other public buildings.

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In 1912, Congress passed a measure creating the Alaska Territory. Congress approved legislation establishing Parcel Post delivery by the U.S. Post Office Department, slated to begin on January 1, 1913.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart embarked on a 19-hour flight from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, making her the first woman to fly solo, non-stop, from coast to coast.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Communist Control Act, outlawing the Communist Party in the United States.

In 1959, three days after Hawaiian statehood, Hiram L. Fong was sworn in as the first Chinese-American U.S. Senator while Daniel K. Inouye (in-OH’-way) was sworn in as the first Japanese-American U.S. Representative.

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In 1968, France became the world’s fifth thermonuclear power as it exploded a hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific.

In 1981, Mark David Chapman was sentenced in New York to 20 years to life in prison for murdering John Lennon. (Chapman remains imprisoned.)

In 1989, the Voyager 2 space probe flew by Neptune, sending back striking photographs.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida, causing $30 billion in damage; 43 U.S. deaths were blamed on the storm.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union declared that Pluto was no longer a full-fledged planet, demoting it to the status of a “dwarf planet.”

Ten years ago: A suicide bomber struck a welcome-home celebration on Baghdad’s outskirts for an Iraqi detainee released from U.S. custody, killing at least 25 people. An Iran-bound passenger jet carrying 90 people crashed in Kyrgyzstan, killing some 70 people. On the final day of the Beijing Games, Kobe Bryant hit two 3-pointers in a big fourth quarter to help the United States defeat Spain 118-107 and win the men’s basketball gold medal for the first time since 2000. Waipahu, Hawaii, defeated Matamoros, Mexico, in the Little League World Series, 12-3.

Five years ago: Tens of thousands of people marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and down the National Mall, commemorating the 50th anniversary of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech (delivered on August 28, 1963). Julie Harris, 87, one of Broadway’s most honored performers, died in West Chatham, Massachusetts.

One year ago: Presidential adviser Jared Kushner met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to jumpstart peace talks. Former Carter administration Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus, who engineered the conservation of millions of acres of Alaska land, died at the age of 85. Mavis Wanczyk, a hospital worker from the western Massachusetts town of Chicopee, was announced as the winner of the biggest undivided lottery jackpot in U.S. history, a $758.7 million Powerball prize; lottery officials said she chose to take a lump sum payment of $480 million, or $336 million after taxes. Florida put a convicted killer, Mark Asay, to death using an anesthetic (etomidate) that had never before been used in a U.S. lethal injection.

Today’s Birthdays: Composer-musician Mason Williams is 80. Rhythm-and-blues singer Marshall Thompson (The Chi-Lites) is 76. Rock musician Ken Hensley is 73. Actress Anne Archer is 71. Actor Joe Regalbuto is 69. Actor Kevin Dunn is 63. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is 63. Actor-writer Stephen Fry is 61. Actor Steve Guttenberg is 60. Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. is 58. Actor Jared Harris is 57. Talk show host Craig Kilborn is 56. CBS News correspondent Major Garrett is 56. Rock singer John Bush is 55. Actress Marlee Matlin is 53. Basketball Hall of Famer Reggie Miller is 53. Broadcast journalist David Gregory is 48. Country singer Kristyn Osborn (SHeDaisy) is 48. Movie director Ava DuVernay is 46. Actor-comedian Dave Chappelle is 45. Actor James D’Arcy is 45. Actor Carmine Giovinazzo is 45. Actor Alex O’Loughlin is 42. Actress Beth Riesgraf is 40. Actor Chad Michael Murray is 37. Christian rock musician Jeffrey Gilbert (Kutless) is 35. Singer Mika is 35. Actor Blake Berris is 34. Actor Rupert Grint (“Harry Potter” films) is 30.

Thought for Today: “Of the twenty or so civilizations known to modern Western historians, all except our own appear to be dead or moribund, and, when we diagnose each case… we invariably find that the cause of death has been either War or Class or some combination of the two.” — Arnold J. Toynbee, English historian (1889-1975).