Today in History 5/5


Today is Saturday, May 5, the 126th day of 2012. There are 240 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 5, 1862, the Battle of Puebla took place in Mexico as forces loyal to Benito Juarez defeated troops that had been sent by Napoleon III during the so-called French Intervention. (The Cinco de Mayo holiday commemorates Mexico’s victory.)

On this date:

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

• In 1891, New York’s Carnegie Hall (then named “Music Hall”) had its official opening night.

• In 1922, construction began on the original Yankee Stadium 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 1936, the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, fell to Italian invaders.

• In 1941, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa after the Italians were driven out with the help of Allied forces.

• In 1942, wartime sugar rationing began in the United States.

• 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 Freedom 7, a Mercury capsule launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

• In 1972, an Alitalia DC-8 crashed into Mount Longa near Palermo, Sicily, with the loss of all 115 people on board.

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

• In 1987, the congressional Iran-Contra hearings opened with former Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord (SEE’-kohrd) the lead-off witness. The federal government began a yearlong amnesty program, offering citizenship to illegal aliens who met certain conditions.

Ten years ago:

• French President Jacques Chirac was re-elected in a landslide victory over extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.

• Movie director George Sidney, who had directed dozens of musicals when the genre was at its peak, died in Las Vegas at age 85.

Five years ago:

• A Kenya Airways jet crashed in southern Cameroon, killing all 114 people on board.

• Street Sense roared from next-to-last in a 20-horse field to win the Kentucky Derby.

• Floyd Mayweather Jr. beat Oscar De La Hoya to win the WBC 154-pound title at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.

One year ago:

• Solemnly honoring victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, President Barack Obama hugged survivors at ground zero in New York and declared that the killing of Osama bin Laden was an American message to the world: “When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say.”

• Pakistan broke its silence over the U.S. commando raid that killed bin Laden, acknowledging its “shortcomings” in finding him but threatening to review cooperation with Washington if there were another similar violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

Today’s Birthdays:

Actress Pat Carroll is 85. Former AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeney is 78. Saxophonist Ace Cannon is 78. Country singer-musician Roni Stoneman is 74. Actor Michael Murphy is 74. Actor Lance Henriksen is 72. Comedian-actor Michael Palin is 69. Actor John Rhys-Davies is 68. Actor Roger Rees is 68. Rock correspondent Kurt Loder is 67. Rock musician Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) is 64. Actor Richard E. Grant is 55. CBS News corespondent John Miller is 54. Rock singer Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) is 53. NBC News anchor Brian Williams is 53. Rock musician Shawn Drover (Megadeth) is 46. TV personality Kyan Douglas is 42. Actress Tina Yothers is 39. Rhythm and blues singer Raheem DeVaughn is 37. Actor Vincent Kartheiser is 33. Actress Danielle Fishel is 31. Soul singer Adele is 24. Rock singer Skye Sweetnam is 24. Rhythm-and-blues singer Chris Brown is 23.