Today in History
Today is Monday, May 1, the 121st day of 2017. There are 244 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlights in History:
On May 1, 1967, Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. (They divorced in 1973.) Anastasio Somoza Debayle became president of Nicaragua.
On this date:
In 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain was created as a treaty merging England and Scotland took effect.
In 1786, Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro” premiered in Vienna.
In 1866, three days of race-related rioting erupted in Memphis, Tennessee, as white mobs targeted blacks, 46 of whom were killed, along with two whites. (The violence spurred passage of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining American citizenship and equal protection under the law.)
In 1898, Commodore George Dewey gave the command, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley,” as an American naval force destroyed a Spanish squadron in Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.
In 1915, during World War I, a German submarine torpedoed and severely damaged the SS Gulflight, an American tanker near Britain’s Scilly Isles, even though the United States was still neutral in the conflict.
In 1931, New York’s 102-story Empire State Building was dedicated. Singer Kate Smith made her debut on CBS Radio on her 24th birthday.
In 1941, the Orson Welles motion picture “Citizen Kane” premiered in New York.
In 1960, the Soviet Union shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance plane over Sverdlovsk and captured its pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
In 1971, the intercity passenger rail service Amtrak went into operation.
In 1987, during a visit to West Germany, Pope John Paul II beatified Edith Stein, a Jewish-born Carmelite nun who was gassed in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. (She was canonized in 1998.)
In 1992, on the third day of the Los Angeles riots, a visibly shaken Rodney King appeared in public to appeal for calm, pleading, “Can we all get along?”
In 2011, President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a U.S. commando operation (because of the time difference, it was early May 2 in Pakistan, where the al-Qaida leader met his end).
Ten years ago: In only his second veto, President George W. Bush rejected legislation to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq in a showdown with Congress over whether the war should end or escalate. Thousands of people protested across the country to demand a path to citizenship for an estimated 12 million people living in the U.S. without legal permission.
Five years ago: In a swift and secretive trip to the Afghan war zone, President Barack Obama signed an agreement vowing long-term ties with Afghanistan after America’s combat forces returned home. Hundreds of activists across the U.S. joined worldwide May Day protests, with Occupy Wall Street members in several cities leading demonstrations and in some cases clashing with police.
One year ago: A wildfire broke out near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada; in the days that followed, the blaze destroyed 2,400 homes and other buildings and forced more than 80,000 people to evacuate. Anti-government protesters disbanded from the heavily fortified Green Zone they had stormed a day earlier. After a half-century of waiting, Cuban-born passengers set sail from Miami on an historic cruise to Havana, the first such trip from the U.S. since recent policy changes. Elephants performed for the last time at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Providence, Rhode Island.
Today’s Birthdays: Singer Judy Collins is 78. Actor Stephen Macht is 75. Singer Rita Coolidge is 72. Pop singer Nick Fortuna (The Buckinghams) is 71. Actor-director Douglas Barr is 68. Actor Dann Florek is 66. Singer-songwriter Ray Parker Jr. is 63. Actor Byron Stewart is 61. Hall of Fame jockey Steve Cauthen is 57. Actress Maia Morgenstern is 55. Actor Scott Coffey is 53. Country singer Wayne Hancock is 52. Actor Charlie Schlatter is 51. Country singer Tim McGraw is 50. Rock musician Johnny Colt is 49. Rock musician D’Arcy is 49. Movie director Wes Anderson is 48. Actress Julie Benz is 45. Actor Bailey Chase is 45. Country singer Cory Morrow is 45. Gospel/rhythm-and-blues singer Tina Campbell (Mary Mary) is 43. Actor Darius McCrary is 41. Actor Jamie Dornan is 35. Actress Kerry Bishe is 33.
Thought for Today: “He who is swift to believe is swift to forget.” — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Polish-born scholar (1907-1972).