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Today in History: The Rev. Billy Graham died at his North Carolina home at age 99

Today in History: The Rev. Billy Graham died at his North Carolina home at age 99

Today is Sunday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2021. There are 313 days left in the year.

Highlight in History:

On Feb. 21, 1965, minister and civil rights activist Malcolm X, 39, was shot to death inside Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom in New York by assassins identified as members of the Nation of Islam. (Three men were convicted of murder and imprisoned; all were eventually paroled.)

On this date:

In 1862, Nathaniel Gordon became the first and only American slave-trader to be executed under the U.S. Piracy Law of 1820 as he was hanged in New York.

In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.

In 1916, the World War I Battle of Verdun began in France as German forces attacked; the French were able to prevail after 10 months of fighting.

In 1945, during the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, the escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea was sunk by kamikazes with the loss of 318 men.

In 1964, the first shipment of U.S. wheat purchased by the Soviet Union arrived in the port of Odessa.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Beijing.

In 1973, Israeli fighter planes shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai Desert, killing all but five of the 113 people on board.

In 1975, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 2 1/2 to 8 years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up (each ended up serving a year and a-half).

In 1995, Chicago adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean by balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.

In 2005, President George W. Bush, in Belgium for a NATO summit, scolded Russia for backsliding on democracy and urged Mideast allies to take difficult steps for peace.

In 2010, a mistaken U.S. missile attack killed 23 civilians in Afghanistan. (Four American officers were later reprimanded.) The United States stunned Canada 5-3 to advance to the Olympic men’s hockey quarterfinals in Vancouver. Bode (BOH’-dee) Miller finally captured his elusive gold medal, winning the super-combined for his third medal in three events.

In 2018, the Rev. Billy Graham, a confidant of presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died at his North Carolina home; he was 99. 

Ten years ago: Deep cracks opened in Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, with Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigning, air force pilots defecting and a major government building ablaze after clashes in the capital of Tripoli.

Five years ago: Bombings claimed by the Islamic State group in the Syrian cities of Damascus and Homs killed nearly 130 people. 

One year ago: Health officials said at least 18 Americans who’d returned home from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan were infected with the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the U.S. to at least 35. 

Today’s Birthdays: Movie director Bob Rafelson is 88. Actor Gary Lockwood is 84. Actor-director Richard Beymer is 82. Blues musician Corey Harris is 52. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 51. Rock musician Eric Wilson is 51. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 48. Singer Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) is 44. 

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