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Today in History: America’s Ranger 8 spacecraft crashed on the moon, as planned

Today in History: America’s Ranger 8 spacecraft crashed on the moon, as planned

Today is Saturday, Feb. 20, the 51st day of 2021. There are 314 days left in the year.

Highlight in History:

On Feb. 20, 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, upheld, 7-2, compulsory vaccination laws intended to protect the public’s health.

On this date:

In 1792, President George Washington signed an act creating the United States Post Office Department.

In 1839, Congress prohibited dueling in the District of Columbia.

In 1933, Congress proposed the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to repeal Prohibition.

In 1942, Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare became the U.S. Navy’s first flying ace of World War II by shooting down five Japanese bombers while defending the aircraft carrier USS Lexington in the South Pacific.

In 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth as he flew aboard Project Mercury’s Friendship 7 spacecraft, which circled the globe three times in a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds before splashing down safely in the Atlantic Ocean 800 miles southeast of Bermuda.

In 1965, America’s Ranger 8 spacecraft crashed on the moon, as planned, after sending back thousands of pictures of the lunar surface.

In 1987, a bomb left by Unabomber Ted Kaczynski exploded behind a computer store in Salt Lake City, seriously injuring store owner Gary Wright. Soviet authorities released Jewish activist Josef Begun.

In 1998, Tara Lipinski of the U.S. won the ladies’ figure skating gold medal at the Nagano (NAH’-guh-noh) Olympics; Michelle Kwan won the silver.

In 1999, movie reviewer Gene Siskel died at a hospital outside Chicago at age 53.

In 2003, a fire sparked by pyrotechnics broke out during a concert by the group Great White at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, killing 100 people and injuring about 200 others.

In 2007, in a victory for President George W. Bush, a divided federal appeals court ruled that Guantanamo Bay detainees could not use the U.S. court system to challenge their indefinite imprisonment.

In 2010, Alexander Haig, a soldier and statesman who’d held high posts in three Republican administrations and some of the U.S. military’s top jobs, died in Baltimore at 85.

Five years ago: Donald Trump barreled to victory in South Carolina’s Republican primary; Hillary Clinton pulled out a crucial win over Bernie Sanders in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses. A funeral Mass was held for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. 

One year ago: Japan’s Health Ministry said two passengers who’d been taken off a quarantined cruise ship after being infected with the new coronavirus had died; both were in their 80s and had pre-existing diseases. Sixteen Americans who’d been brought to the U.S. from the cruise ship were in hospitals, either because delayed test results showed that they had the virus or because they had shown symptoms. 

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Sidney Poitier is 94. Racing Hall of Famer Bobby Unser is 87. Racing Hall of Famer Roger Penske is 84. Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is 80. Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito is 79. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is 79. Movie director Mike Leigh is 78. 

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