Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Thursday, August 20, the 232nd day of 2015. There are 133 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlights in History:

On August 20, 1940, during World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill paid tribute to the Royal Air Force before the House of Commons, saying, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Exiled Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky was assassinated in Coyoacan, Mexico by Ramon Mercader, a Spanish Communist agent working at the behest of Josef Stalin. (Trotsky died the next day.)

On this date:

In 1833, Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president of the United States, was born in North Bend, Ohio.

In 1866, President Andrew Johnson formally declared the Civil War over, months after fighting had stopped.

In 1882, Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” had its premiere in Moscow.

In 1910, a series of forest fires swept through parts of Idaho, Montana and Washington, killing at least 85 people and burning some 3 million acres.

In 1914, German forces occupied Brussels, Belgium, during World War I.

In 1953, the Soviet Union publicly acknowledged it had tested a hydrogen bomb.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act, a nearly $1 billion anti-poverty measure.

In 1968, the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations began invading Czechoslovakia to crush the “Prague Spring” liberalization drive.

In 1972, the Wattstax concert took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In 1977, the U.S. launched Voyager 2, an unmanned spacecraft carrying a 12-inch copper phonograph record containing greetings in dozens of languages, samples of music and sounds of nature.

In 1989, entertainment executive Jose Menendez and his wife, Kitty, were shot to death in their Beverly Hills mansion by their sons, Lyle and Erik. Fifty-one people died when a pleasure boat sank in the River Thames (tehmz) in London after colliding with a dredger.

In 1994, Benjamin Chavis Jr. was fired as head of the NAACP after a turbulent 16-month tenure.

Ten years ago: Northwest Airlines mechanics went on strike rather than accept pay cuts and layoffs; Northwest ended up hiring replacement workers. San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Thomas Herrion, 23, died of a heart attack shortly after a preseason game against the Denver Broncos. With a deafening boom, the ashes of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson were blown into the sky above Woody Creek, Colorado.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama invited Israel and the Palestinians to meet face-to-face in Washington the following month for talks aimed at achieving an agreement to establish an independent Palestinian state and secure peace for Israel.

One year ago: The United States launched a new barrage of airstrikes against Islamic State extremists and weighed sending more troops to Iraq as President Barack Obama vowed to be relentless in pursuit of a terrorist group that beheaded American journalist James Foley. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in Ferguson, Missouri, to meet with federal investigators and reassure residents of the community torn by several nights of racial unrest since the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer.

Today’s Birthdays: Writer-producer-director Walter Bernstein is 96. Boxing promoter Don King is 84. Former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, is 82. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is 80. Former MLB All-Star Graig Nettles is 71. Broadcast journalist Connie Chung is 69. Musician Jimmy Pankow (Chicago) is 68. Actor Ray Wise is 68. Actor John Noble is 67. Rock singer Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) is 67. Country singer Rudy Gatlin is 63. Singer-songwriter John Hiatt is 63. Actor-director Peter Horton is 62. TV weatherman Al Roker is 61. Actor Jay Acovone is 60. Actress Joan Allen is 59. Movie director David O. Russell is 57. TV personality Asha Blake is 54. Actor James Marsters is 53. Rapper KRS-One is 50. Actor Colin Cunningham is 49. Actor Billy Gardell is 46. Rock singer Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) is 45. Rock musician Brad Avery is 44. Actor Jonathan Ke Quan is 44. Actor Misha Collins is 41. Rock singer Monique Powell (Save Ferris) is 40. Jazz/pop singer-pianist Jamie Cullum is 36. Actor Ben Barnes is 34. Actress Meghan Ory is 33. Actor Andrew Garfield is 32. Actor Brant Daugherty is 30. Actress-singer Demi Lovato is 23.

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