Today is Saturday, August 2, the 214th day of 2014. There are 151 days left in the year.
On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox suffered light damage during a skirmish with North Vietnamese patrol torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. (This and an alleged second incident two days later led to congressional approval of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that propelled America deep into war.)
On this date:
In 1776, members of the Continental Congress began attaching their signatures to the Declaration of Independence.
In 1873, inventor Andrew S. Hallidie successfully tested a cable car he had designed for the city of San Francisco.
In 1876, frontiersman “Wild Bill” Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker at a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, by Jack McCall, who was later hanged.
In 1909, the original Lincoln “wheat” penny first went into circulation, replacing the “Indian Head” cent.
In 1923, the 29th president of the United States, Warren G. Harding, died in San Francisco; Vice President Calvin Coolidge became president.
In 1934, German President Paul von Hindenburg died, paving the way for Adolf Hitler’s complete takeover.
In 1939, Albert Einstein signed a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt urging creation of an atomic weapons research program. President Roosevelt signed the Hatch Act, which prohibited civil service employees from taking an active part in political campaigns.
In 1943, during World War II, U.S. Navy boat PT-109, commanded by Lt. j.g. John F. Kennedy, sank after being rammed in the middle of the night by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri off the Solomon Islands. Two crew members were killed.
In 1945, President Harry S. Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee concluded the Potsdam conference.
In 1974, former White House counsel John W. Dean III was sentenced to one to four years in prison for obstruction of justice in the Watergate coverup. (Dean ended up serving four months.)
In 1985, 135 people were killed when a Delta Air Lines jetliner crashed while attempting to land at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, seizing control of the oil-rich emirate. (The Iraqis were later driven out in Operation Desert Storm.)
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush urged creation of a national intelligence director to coordinate the war on terrorism but without the sweeping powers for hiring, firing and spending recommended by the September 11 commission. Turkish truckers stopped hauling goods for U.S. forces in Iraq after the shooting of a Turkish hostage was shown on the Internet. Police in Salt Lake City arrested Mark Hacking, whose wife, Lori, had disappeared. (Hacking later pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.)
Five years ago: A mystery from the 1991 Gulf War was finally solved as the Pentagon announced that the remains of missing Navy pilot Michael “Scott” Speicher had been found. Catriona Matthew won the Women’s British Open for her first major title, beating Karrie Webb by three strokes.
One year ago: The United States issued an extraordinary global travel warning to Americans about the threat of an al-Qaida attack and closed down 21 embassies and consulates across the Muslim world for the weekend.
Today’s birthdays: Former Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nev., is 92. Rock musician Garth Hudson (The Band) is 77. Movie director Wes Craven is 75. Singer Kathy Lennon (The Lennon Sisters) is 71. Actor Max Wright is 71. Actress Joanna Cassidy is 69. Actress Kathryn Harrold is 64. Actor Butch Patrick (“The Munsters”) is 61. Rock music producer/drummer Butch Vig (Garbage) is 59. Singer Mojo Nixon is 57. Actress Victoria Jackson is 55. Actress Apollonia is 55. Actress Cynthia Stevenson is 52. Actress Mary-Louise Parker is 50. Rock musician John Stanier is 46. Writer-actor-director Kevin Smith is 44. Actor Sam Worthington is 38. Figure skater Michael Weiss is 38. Actor Edward Furlong is 37. Rock musician Devon Glenn is 34. Actress Hallie Eisenberg is 22.
Thought for today: “A beautiful soul has no other merit than its own existence.” — Friedrich von Schiller, German author (1759-1805).