Today in History

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Today is Tuesday, May 5, the 125th day of 2015. There are 240 days left in the year.

Today's Highlights in History:

On May 5, 1945, in the only fatal attack of its kind during World War II, a Japanese balloon bomb exploded on Gearhart Mountain in Oregon, killing Elsie Mitchell, the 26-year-old pregnant wife of a minister, and five children: Dick Patzke, 14; Jay Gifford, 13; Edward Engen, 13; Joan Patzke, 13; and Sherman Shoemaker, 11. Denmark and the Netherlands were liberated as a German surrender went into effect.

On this date:

In 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte, 51, died in exile on the island of St. Helena.

In 1862, Mexican troops defeated French occupying forces in the Battle of Puebla.

In 1865, what's believed to be America's first train robbery took place as a band of criminals derailed a St. Louis-bound train near North Bend, Ohio; they proceeded to rob the passengers and loot safes on board before getting away.

In 1915, musical film star Alice Faye was born Alice Leppert in New York.

In 1925, schoolteacher John T. Scopes was charged in Tennessee with violating a state law that prohibited teaching the theory of evolution. (Scopes was found guilty, but his conviction was later set aside.)

In 1934, the first Three Stooges short for Columbia Pictures, "Woman Haters," was released.

In 1955, West Germany became a fully sovereign state. The baseball musical "Damn Yankees" opened on Broadway.

In 1961, astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. became America's first space traveler as he made a 15-minute suborbital flight aboard Mercury capsule Freedom 7.

In 1973, Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby, the first of its Triple Crown victories.

In 1981, Irish Republican Army hunger-striker Bobby Sands died at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland in his 66th day without food.

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan kept a controversial promise to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl by leading a wreath-laying ceremony at the military cemetery in Bitburg.

In 1994, Singapore caned American teenager Michael Fay for vandalism, a day after the sentence was reduced from six lashes to four in response to an appeal by President Bill Clinton, who considered the punishment too harsh.

Ten years ago: Tony Blair won a historic third term as Britain's prime minister, but his Labor Party suffered a sharply reduced parliamentary majority. "Precious Doe," a slain girl in Kansas City, Missouri, was identified after four years as 3-year-old Erica Michelle Marie Green. (Harrell Johnson was later convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole; Erica's mother, Michelle Green, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and received a 25-year term.) Michael Jackson's lawyers opened their successful defense in his molestation and conspiracy trial.

Five years ago: Preliminary plans for a mosque and cultural center near ground zero in New York were unveiled, setting off a national debate over whether the project was disrespectful to 9/11 victims and whether opposition to it exposed anti-Muslim biases. Three people, trapped in an Athens bank torched by rioters, died during a nationwide strike against the cash-strapped Greek government's harsh austerity measures.

One year ago: A narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings. Philadelphia guard Michael Carter-Williams won the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Pat Carroll is 88. Former AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeney is 81. Saxophonist Ace Cannon is 81. Country singer-musician Roni Stoneman is 77. Actor Michael Murphy is 77. Actor Lance Henriksen is 75. Comedian-actor Michael Palin is 72. Actor John Rhys-Davies is 71. Actor Roger Rees is 71. Rock correspondent Kurt Loder is 70. Rock musician Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) is 67. Actress Melinda Culea is 60. Actress Lisa Eilbacher is 58. Actor Richard E. Grant is 58. Former CBS News correspondent John Miller is 57. Rock singer Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) is 56. NBC newsman Brian Williams is 56. Rock musician Shawn Drover (Megadeth) is 49. TV personality Kyan Douglas is 45. Actress Tina Yothers is 42. Rhythm and blues singer Raheem DeVaughn is 40. Actor Vincent Kartheiser is 36. Singer Craig David is 34. Actress Danielle Fishel is 34. Actor Henry Cavill is 32. Actor Clark Duke is 30. Soul singer Adele is 27. Rock singer Skye Sweetnam is 27. Rhythm-and-blues singer Chris Brown is 26.

Thought for Today: "Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go." -- Hermann Hesse, German-born Swiss poet and author (1877-1962).

Copyright 2015, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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