Today in History

Today is Friday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2014. There are 334 days left in the year. This is the Chinese New Year of the Horse.

Today’s highlight:

On Jan. 31, 1944, during World War II, U.S. forces began a successful invasion of Kwajalein Atoll and other parts of the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.

On this date:

In 1606, Guy Fawkes, convicted of treason for his part in the “Gunpowder Plot” against the English Parliament and King James I, was executed.

In 1863, during the Civil War, the First South Carolina Volunteers, an all-black Union regiment composed of former slaves, was mustered into federal service at Beaufort, S.C.

In 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee was named general-in-chief of all the Confederate armies.

In 1917, during World War I, Germany served notice it was beginning a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.

In 1929, revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his family were expelled from the Soviet Union.

In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Gold Reserve Act.

In 1958, the United States entered the Space Age with its first successful launch of a satellite into orbit, Explorer I.

In 1961, NASA launched Ham the Chimp aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral; Ham was recovered safely from the Atlantic Ocean following his 16 1/2-minute suborbital flight.

In 1971, astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roosa blasted off aboard Apollo 14 on a mission to the moon.

In 1974, legendary movie producer Samuel Goldwyn, 94, died in Los Angeles.

In 1980, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands announced she would abdicate on her birthday the following April, to be succeeded by her daughter, Princess Beatrix.

In 1990, McDonald’s Corp. opened its first fast-food restaurant in Moscow.

Ten years ago: Six U.S.-bound flights from England, Scotland and France were canceled because of security concerns. Justine Henin-Hardenne won her third Grand Slam title, defeating Kim Clijsters 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the Australian Open. John Elway and Barry Sanders were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on their first attempt; they were joined by Bob Brown and Carl Eller.

Five years ago: Iraqis passed through security checkpoints and razor-wire cordons to vote in provincial elections considered a crucial test of the nation’s stability. A gasoline spill from a crashed truck erupted into flames in Molo, Kenya, killing at least 115 people. Serena Williams routed Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-3 to win her fourth Australian Open. Bruce Smith and Rod Woodson were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility; they were joined by Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Derrick Thomas and Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson.

One year ago: Chuck Hagel emerged from his grueling confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee with solid Democratic support for his nomination to be President Barack Obama’s next defense secretary. A gas explosion caused three floors of the headquarters of Mexico’s national oil company Pemex to collapse, killing 37 people. Caleb Moore, 25, an innovative freestyle snowmobile rider who’d been hurt in a crash at the Winter X Games in Colorado, died at a hospital in Grand Junction.

Associated Press

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