Today is Friday, July 4, the 185th day of 2014. There are 180 days left in the year. This is Independence Day.
On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
On this date:
In 1802, the United States Military Academy officially opened at West Point, New York.
In 1831, the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, died in New York City at age 73.
In 1863, the Civil War Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ended as a Confederate garrison surrendered to Union forces.
In 1872, the 30th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, was born in Plymouth, Vermont.
In 1912, the 48-star American flag, recognizing New Mexico statehood, was adopted. A train wreck near Corning, New York, claimed 39 lives.
In 1939, Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees delivered his famous farewell speech in which he called himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
In 1942, Irving Berlin’s musical review “This Is the Army” opened at the Broadway Theater in New York.
In 1959, America’s 49-star flag, recognizing Alaskan statehood, was officially unfurled.
In 1960, America’s 50-star flag, recognizing Hawaiian statehood, was officially unfurled.
In 1976, Israeli commandos raided Entebbe airport in Uganda, rescuing almost all of the passengers and crew of an Air France jetliner seized by pro-Palestinian hijackers.
In 1982, the space shuttle Columbia concluded its fourth and final test flight with a smooth landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne married his manager, Sharon Arden, in Maui, Hawaii.
In 1999, white supremacist Benjamin Nathaniel Smith shot himself to death as police closed in on him in southern Illinois, hours after he’d apparently shot and killed a Korean man outside a church in Bloomington, Indiana; authorities believe Smith was also responsible for killing former college basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong during a three-day rampage targeting minorities.
Ten years ago: A 20-ton slab of granite, inscribed to honor “the enduring spirit of freedom,” was laid at the World Trade Center site as the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower skyscraper that replaced the destroyed twin towers. Defending the war in Iraq, President George W. Bush told a cheering crowd outside the West Virginia state capitol that America was safer because Saddam Hussein was in a prison cell. Roger Federer overcame Andy Roddick’s power game to win his second straight Wimbledon title, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4. Meg Mallon won the Women’s U.S. Open with a 6-under 65.
Five years ago: Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair was fatally shot in a Nashville condo by his mistress, Sahel Kazemi, who then killed herself. North Korea launched seven ballistic missiles into waters off its east coast. The Statue of Liberty’s crown was reopened to tourists for the first time since September 11, 2001. Serena Williams beat her big sister, Venus, 7-6 (3), 6-2 for her third Wimbledon title and 11th Grand Slam championship.
One year ago: Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, was sworn in following the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist leader overthrown by the military after just one year in office. The Statue of Liberty reopened on the Fourth of July, eight months after Superstorm Sandy shuttered the national symbol of freedom. Bernadette Nolan, 52, a member of the singing sister act the Nolans who had a worldwide hit in 1979 with “I’m In The Mood For Dancing,” died in Surrey, England.