Today in History


Today is Friday, May 5, the 125th day of 2023. There are 240 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 5, 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.

On this date:

In 1494, during his second voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus landed in Jamaica.

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

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 1942, wartime sugar rationing began in the United States.

In 1945, in the only fatal attack of its kind during World War II, a Japanese balloon bomb exploded on Gearhart Mountain in Oregon, killing the pregnant wife of a minister and five children. Denmark and the Netherlands were liberated as a German surrender went into effect.

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

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

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.

In 2009, Texas health officials confirmed the first death of a U.S. resident with swine flu.

In 2014, a narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings.

In 2016, former Los Angeles trash collector Lonnie Franklin Jr. was convicted of 10 counts of murder in the “Grim Sleeper” serial killings that targeted poor, young Black women over two decades.

In 2020, Tyson Foods said it would resume limited operation of its huge pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, with enhanced safety measures, more than two weeks after closing the facility because of a coronavirus outbreak among workers.

Ten years ago: In Afghanistan, seven Americans and one German soldier were killed in three separate attacks. Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, seriously wounded in a 2011 shooting at a Tucson, Arizona, shopping mall, received the 2013 Profile in Courage award at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. LeBron James of the Miami Heat was the overwhelming choice as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. Brett Rumford won the China Open by four strokes to become the first Australian in 41 years to win consecutive European Tour titles. Five years ago: Russians demonstrated in scores of cities across the country against the impending inauguration of Vladimir Putin to a new term as president, and police responded by reportedly arresting nearly 1,600 of them. North Korea readjusted its time zone to match South Korea’s, saying it was an early step toward making the longtime rivals “become one.” NASA launched the Mars InSight lander from California on a flight of more than six months to the red planet, where the robot geologist would dig deeper in to the Martian surface than ever before. Justify, on his way to a Triple Crown sweep, splashed through the slop at Churchill Downs to win the Kentucky Derby by 2½ lengths, becoming the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old. One year ago: Ukrainian fighters in the tunnels underneath Mariupol’s pulverized steel plant held out against Russian troops in an increasingly desperate effort to deny Moscow what would be its biggest success of the war yet: the full capture of the strategic port city. (The siege would end with Russia capturing the city May 20.) Hong Kong reopened beaches and pools in a relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, while China’s capital Beijing began easing quarantine rules for arrivals from overseas. President Joe Biden named Karine Jean-Pierre to be White House press secretary, the first Black woman and openly LGBTQ person to serve in the role.

Today’s Birthdays: Country singer-musician Roni Stoneman is 85. Actor Michael Murphy is 85. Actor Lance Henriksen is 83. Comedian-actor Michael Palin is 80. Actor John Rhys-Davies is 79. Rock correspondent Kurt Loder is 78. Rock musician Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) is 75. Actor Melinda Culea is 68. Actor Lisa Eilbacher is 66. Actor Richard E. Grant is 66. Former broadcast journalist John Miller is 65. Rock singer Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) is 64. Broadcast journalist Brian Williams is 64. Rock musician Shawn Drover (Megadeth) is 57. TV personality Kyan (KY’-ihn) Douglas is 53. Actor Tina Yothers is 50. R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn is 48. Actor Santiago Cabrera is 45. Actor Vincent Kartheiser is 44. Singer Craig David is 42. Actor Danielle Fishel is 42. Actor Henry Cavill is 40. Actor Clark Duke is 38. Soul singer Adele is 35. Rock singer Skye Sweetnam is 35. R&B singer Chris Brown is 34. Figure skater Nathan Chen is 24.

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