Today in History


The Associated Press



Today is Friday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2020. There are 314 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 21, 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 in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up (each ended up serving a year and a-half).

On this date:

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 1862, Nathaniel Gordon became the first and only American slave-trader to be executed under the U.S. Piracy Law of 1820 as he was hanged in New York.

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 1964, the first shipment of U.S. wheat purchased by the Soviet Union arrived in the port of Odessa.

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 1973, Israeli fighter planes shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai Desert, killing all but five of the 113 people on board.

In 1992, Kristi Yamaguchi (yah-mah-GOO’-chee) of the United States won the gold medal in ladies’ figure skating at the Albertville (AL-buhr-vihl) Olympics; Midori Ito (mee-doh-ree ee-toh) of Japan won the silver, Nancy Kerrigan of the U.S., the bronze.

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

In 2013, Drew Peterson, the Chicago-area police officer who gained notoriety after his much-younger fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007, was sentenced to 38 years in prison for murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

In 2018, the Rev. Billy Graham, a confidant of presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died at his North Carolina home; he was 99. A week after the Florida school shooting, President Donald Trump met with teen survivors of school violence and parents of slain children; Trump promised to be “very strong on background checks” and suggested he supported letting some teachers and other school employees carry weapons.

Ten years ago: A mistaken U.S. missile attack killed 23 civilians in Afghanistan. (Four American officers were later reprimanded.) The United States stunned Canada 5-3 to advance to the Olympic men’s hockey quarterfinals in Vancouver. Bode (BOH’-dee) Miller finally captured his elusive gold medal, winning the super-combined for his third medal in three events. Spectator Susan Zimmer, 52, was killed at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler when a tire flew off a crashing dragster and struck her.

Five years 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.

One year ago: Peter Tork, who rose to teen-idol fame in the 1960s playing the lovably clueless bass guitarist in the made-for-television rock band The Monkees, died at the age of 77. Teachers in Oakland, California, went on strike in the latest in a wave of teacher activism that had included walkouts in Denver, Los Angeles and West Virginia. North Carolina’s election board ordered a new election for the state’s last vacant congressional seat; Republican Mark Harris had dropped his bid to be declared the winner after conceding that his lead was tainted by evidence of ballot-tampering. (Republican Dan Bishop won a special election in September.) Opening the first-ever Vatican summit on preventing clergy sexual abuse, Pope Francis warned 190 bishops and religious superiors that their flocks were demanding concrete action to punish predator priests and keep children safe.

Today’s Birthdays: Movie director Bob Rafelson is 87. Actor Gary Lockwood is 83. Actor-director Richard Beymer is 81. Actor Peter McEnery is 80. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is 80. Film/music company executive David Geffen is 77. Actress Tyne Daly is 74. Actor Anthony Daniels is 74. Tricia Nixon Cox is 74. Former Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 73. Rock musician Jerry Harrison (The Heads) is 71. Actress Christine Ebersole is 67. Actor William Petersen is 67. Actor Kelsey Grammer is 65. Country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 62. Actor Kim Coates is 62. Actor Jack Coleman is 62. Actor Christopher Atkins is 59. Actor William Baldwin is 57. Rock musician Michael Ward is 53. Actress Aunjanue Ellis is 51. Blues musician Corey Harris is 51. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 50. Rock musician Eric Wilson is 50. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 47. Singer Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) is 43. Actor Tituss Burgess is 41. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is 41. Comedian-actor Jordan Peele is 41. Actor Brendan Sexton III is 40. Singer Charlotte Church is 34. Actress Ashley Greene is 33. Actress Ellen Page is 33. Actor Corbin Bleu is 31. Actress Hayley Orrantia is 26. Actress Sophie Turner is 24.

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

The Associated Press