Today in History – Monday, Aug. 21, 2017

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Today is Monday, Aug. 21, the 233rd day of 2017. There are 132 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On August 21, 1858, the first of seven debates between Illinois senatorial contenders Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place.

On this date:

In 1831, Nat Turner launched a violent slave rebellion in Virginia resulting in the deaths of at least 55 whites. (Turner was later executed.)

In 1911, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. (The painting was recovered two years later in Italy.)

In 1940, exiled Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky died in a Mexican hospital from wounds inflicted by an assassin the day before.

In 1945, President Harry S. Truman ended the Lend-Lease program that had shipped some $50 billion in aid supplies to America’s allies during World War II.

In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order making Hawaii the 50th state.

In 1963, martial law was declared in South Vietnam as police and army troops began a violent crackdown on Buddhist anti-government protesters.

In 1972, the Republican National Convention opened in Miami Beach.

In 1983, Philippine opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr., ending a self-imposed exile in the United States, was shot dead moments after stepping off a plane at Manila International Airport. The musical play “La Cage Aux Folles” opened on Broadway.

In 1987, Sgt. Clayton Lonetree, the first Marine court-martialed for spying, was convicted in Quantico, Virginia, of passing secrets to the KGB. (Lonetree ended up serving eight years in a military prison.)

In 1991, the hard-line coup against Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev collapsed in the face of a popular uprising led by Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin.

In 1992, an 11-day siege began at the cabin of white separatist Randy Weaver in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, as government agents tried to arrest Weaver for failing to appear in court on charges of selling two illegal sawed-off shotguns; on the first day of the siege, Weaver’s teenage son, Samuel, and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan were killed.

In 2015, a trio of Americans, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and college student Anthony Sadler, and a British businessman, Chris Norman, tackled and disarmed a Moroccan gunman on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris.

Ten years ago: Hurricane Dean swept across Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula as a Category 5 storm. The postwar Iraqi tribunal trying former Saddam Hussein aides opened its third proceeding, putting former Defense Minister Ali Hassan al-Majid (ah-LEE’ hah-SAHN’ ahl mah-ZHEED’), known as “Chemical Ali,” and 14 other men on trial for the regime’s brutal crushing of a 1991 rebellion by Shiite Muslims. Space shuttle Endeavour, with teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan aboard, safely returned to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Five years ago: An insurgent rocket attack damaged the plane of the top U.S. general as it sat parked at a coalition base in Afghanistan; U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was unhurt. Missouri Rep. Todd Akin defied the nation’s top Republicans and refused to abandon a Senate bid hobbled by fallout over his comments that women’s bodies could prevent pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape.” (Akin went on to lose the fall election to Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.)

One year ago: Shaking to samba and sharing reflections in uniquely Brazilian words, Olympians and fans said goodbye to the Rio Games with one last big bash inside Maracana Stadium. Earlier in the day, Kevin Durant scored 30 points and helped the Americans rout Serbia 96-66 for their third straight gold medal, capping an Olympics in which the U.S. dominated the medal tables, both the gold (46) and overall totals (121).

Today’s Birthdays: Former NFL player and general manager Pete Retzlaff is 86. Actor-director Melvin Van Peebles is 85. Playwright Mart Crowley is 82. Singer Kenny Rogers is 79. Actor Clarence Williams III is 78. Rock-and-roll musician James Burton is 78. Singer Harold Reid (The Statler Brothers) is 78. Singer Jackie DeShannon is 76. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Lanier is 72. Actress Patty McCormack is 72. Pop singer-musician Carl Giammarese (jee-ah mah-REE’-see) is 70. Actress Loretta Devine is 68. NBC newsman Harry Smith is 66. Singer Glenn Hughes is 65. Country musician Nick Kane is 63. Actress Kim Cattrall is 61. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon is 58. Actress Cleo King is 55. Retired MLB All-Star player John Wetteland is 51. Rock singer Serj Tankian (TAN’-kee-ahn) (System of a Down) is 50. Figure skater Josee Chouinard is 48. Actress Carrie-Anne Moss is 47. MLB player-turned-manager Craig Counsell is 47. Rock musician Liam Howlett (Prodigy) is 46.

Actress Alicia Witt is 42. Singer Kelis (kuh-LEES’) is 38. Actor Diego Klattenhoff is 38. TV personality Brody Jenner is 34. Singer Melissa Schuman is 33. Olympic gold medal sprinter Usain (yoo-SAYN’) Bolt is 31. Actor Carlos Pratts is 31. Actor-comedian Brooks Wheelan is 31. Actor Cody Kasch is 30. Country singer Kacey Musgraves is 29. Actress Hayden Panettiere (pan’-uh-tee-EHR’) is 28. Actor RJ Mitte is 25. Actor Maxim Knight is 18.

Thought for Today: “To know a little less and to understand a little more: that, it seems to me, is our greatest need.” — James Ramsey Ullman, American author (1907-1971).