May 31st in history:
More than two thousand people died on May 31st, 1889, in the great Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood. Heavy rains caused a dam to break, unleashing all the water from a lake a few miles outside of Johnstown.
In legend, and in the movie “The Ten Commandments,” he’s the pharaoh whose army drowned in the Red Sea while pursuing Moses and his followers. Rameses II became the pharaoh of Egypt on May 31st in 1279 B.C.
Richard Nixon’s rule as president was sunk partly by leaks to the Washington Post from a source nicknamed “Deep Throat.” On this date in 2005, former FBI agent Mark Felt revealed himself to be Bob Woodward’s secret source.
And on May 31st, 1911, a huge ocean liner which would sink less than a year later was launched. It was the RMS Titanic.
February 16th in history:
On February 16th, 1959, Fidel Castro officially became the premier of Cuba. Many people mark January 1st of 1959 instead as the date Castro took power, because that was the day former dictator Fulgencia Batista was forced out of office.
A long-ago king made news on February 16th, 1923. That’s when archaeologist Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of Egypt’s King Tut.
And the Kings had to stop playing on this date in 2005. So did the Devils, Bruins and Canadiens, and all of the other teams in the National Hockey League. The NHL cancelled the rest of the 2004-’05 season because of a labor dispute.
October 14 in history:
On this date in 1981, the Egyptian government elected Hosni Mubarak as president, to succeed Anwar Sadat, who had been shot and killed a week earlier. Mubarak remained president until being ousted as a result of protests in 2011.
Former U.S President Theodore Roosevelt was shot and slightly wounded in Milwaukee on October 14th, 1912, while campaigning as the Bull Moose candidate for president. The bullet was slowed down by a folded copy of his speech in his coat pocket, and Roosevelt finished his speech before going to a hospital.
That week in 1912, the Army football team was 2-0 and preparing for a game against Yale. One of the star players for the cadets was halfback and future president Dwight Eisenhower, born on October 14th, 1890.
September 7 in history:
A girl named Elizabeth started life as a princess when she was born in England on September 7th, 1533. Her father was King Henry VIII. Her mother was Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth Tudor became queen of England when she was 25, and reigned for nearly 50 years.
Citizens of Egypt got to elect their own president for the first time on this date in 2005. Before that, the Egyptian parliament chose the president. The winner of the election was Hosni Mubarak, who had already been president for 24 years. Mubarak’s opponents claimed the voting was rigged.
Nikita Khrushchev didn’t wait to be elected “First Secretary” of the Soviet Communist Party. He took power on September 7th, 1953, and remained in control for 11 years.
And a two-day contest called the Atlantic City Pageant began in New Jersey on this date in 1921. Margaret Gorman, representing Washington, D.C., won that first pageant. It was a tourism gimmick, designed to bring visitors to the city after Labor Day, and was later renamed the Miss America Pageant.
August 12 in history:
The U.S flag was raised over Iolani Palace in Honolulu on August 12th, 1898, marking America’s official annexation of Hawaii. The last monarch to reign over Hawaii from the palace was Queen Lili’uokalani.
August 12th is marked as the day in 30 B.C. when Egyptian Queen Cleopatra the 7th died, apparently committing suicide by allowing a snake to bite her.
Director Cecil B. DeMille, born on this date in 1881, made a movie about Cleopatra in 1934, starring Claudette Colbert. “Cleopatra” was nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards the following year.
Actor John Cazale only made five movies in his brief career, but they were all nominated for best picture Oscars: the first two “Godfather” films, “The Conversation”, “Dog Day Afternoon” and “The Deer Hunter”. Cazale died of cancer at age 42. He was born August 12th, 1935.
July 15th in history:
The middle of July is a popular time for political parties to choose their presidential candidates. President Harry Truman accepted the Democratic nomination on July 15th of 1948, and Jimmy Carter gave his acceptance speech during the 1976 Democratic convention on the 15th. Bill Clinton won the nomination on July 15th, 1992 at the Democratic convention, and Republican Barry Goldwater was nominated on this day during the Republican convention in 1964.
Goldwater’s nomination happened on the 26th birthday of his son, Barry Goldwater Jr., who was born in Arizona and later served as a Republican Congressman from California for seven terms. Another Arizona native, singer Linda Ronstadt, was born on July 15th of 1946.
Linda Ronstadt is famous for recording rock songs and Spanish-language albums. A language barrier was broken on this date in 1799 when a rock known as the “Rosetta Stone” was discovered in Egypt. The stone has the same message printed three times, in hieroglyphics and two other languages, allowing experts to translate Egyptian sign language.
Some folks might need a Rosetta stone to figure out abbreviations used in messages on Twitter (LOL). The internet service limiting messages (“tweets”) to 140 characters was launched July 15th, 2006.