Today is Monday, Aug. 20, the 233rd day of 2012. There are 133 days left in the year.
Today’s highlights in history:
On Aug. 20, 1862, the New York Tribune published an open letter by editor Horace Greeley to President Abraham Lincoln titled “The Prayer of Twenty Millions”; in it, Greeley called on Lincoln to take more aggressive measures to free the slaves and end the South’s rebellion.
On this date:
In 1833, Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president of the United States, was born in North Bend, Ohio.
In 1866, President Andrew Johnson formally declared the Civil War over, months after fighting had stopped.
In 1882, Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” had its premiere in Moscow.
In 1910, a series of forest fires swept through parts of Idaho, Montana and Washington, killing at least 85 people and burning some 3 million acres.
In 1920, pioneering American radio station 8MK in Detroit (later WWJ) began daily broadcasting.
In 1940, during World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill paid tribute to the Royal Air Force before the House of Commons, saying, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” In 1955, hundreds of people were killed in anti-French rioting in Morocco and Algeria.
In 1968, the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations began invading Czechoslovakia to crush the “Prague Spring” liberalization drive.
In 1972, the Wattstax concert took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
In 1977, the U.S. launched Voyager 2, an unmanned spacecraft carrying a 12-inch copper phonograph record containing greetings in dozens of languages, samples of music and sounds of nature.
In 1986, postal employee Patrick Henry Sherrill went on a deadly rampage at a post office in Edmond, Okla., shooting 14 fellow workers to death before killing himself.
In 1992, shortly after midnight, the Republican National Convention in Houston renominated President George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle.
Ten years ago: Without firing a shot, masked German police commandos freed two senior diplomats from armed men who had stormed the Iraqi embassy in Berlin, bringing a bloodless end to a 5-hour hostage drama by a previously unknown group opposed to Saddam Hussein.
Five years ago: Tens of thousands of tourists fled the beaches of the Mayan Riviera as Hurricane Dean roared toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A roadside bomb killed the governor of the predominantly Shiite Muthanna province in Iraq. A smoking China Airlines Boeing 737-800 exploded in a fireball at an airport gate in Okinawa seconds after all 157 passengers and eight crew had safely evacuated. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama expressed irritation with the “Obama Girl” Web video, telling The Associated Press it had upset his young daughters. Hotel magnate Leona Helmsley died in Greenwich, Conn., at age 87.
One year ago: Israel issued a rare apology for the deaths of three Egyptian soldiers who were killed during a cross-border attack blamed on Palestinians. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il arrived in Russia’s Far East on a nearly weeklong visit. Jordyn Wieber won her first title at the U.S. gymnastics championships in St. Paul, Minn., in a rout, finishing with 121.30 points, 6.15 points ahead of McKayla Maroney.
Today’s birthdays: Writer-producer-director Walter Bernstein is 93. Boxing promoter Don King is 81. U.S. special envoy George Mitchell is 79. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is 77. Former MLB All-Star Graig Nettles is 68. Broadcast journalist Connie Chung is 66. Musician Jimmy Pankow (Chicago) is 65. Actor John Noble and rock singer Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) are 64. Country singer Rudy Gatlin and singer-songwriter John Hiatt are 60. Actor-director Peter Horton is 59. TV weatherman Al Roker is 58. Actor Jay Acovone is 57. Actress Joan Allen is 56. TV personality Asha Blake is 51. Actor James Marsters is 50. Rapper KRS-One is 47. Actor Colin Cunningham is 46. Actor Billy Gardell is 43. Rock singer Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) is 42. Rock musician Brad Avery and actor Jonathan Ke Quan are 41. Rock singer Monique Powell (Save Ferris) is 37. Actor Ben Barnes is 31. Actor Andrew Garfield is 29. Actress-singer Demi Lovato is 20.
Thought for today: “Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything.” — Floyd Dell, American writer (1887-1969).