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Today in History

Today is Sunday, May 9, the 129th day of 2021. There are 236 days left in the year. This is Mother’s Day.

Birthdays: Actor-writer Alan Bennett is 87. Actor and politician Glenda Jackson is 85. Producer-director James L. Brooks is 84. Musician Sonny Curtis (Buddy Holly and the Crickets) is 84. Singer Tommy Roe is 79. Singer-musician Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield and Poco) is 77. Actor Candice Bergen is 75. Pop singer Clint Holmes is 75. Actor Anthony Higgins is 74. Singer Billy Joel is 72. Blues singer-musician Bob Margolin is 72. Rock singer-musician Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick) is 71. Actor Alley Mills is 70. Actor Amy Hill is 68. Actor Wendy Crewson is 65. Actor John Corbett is 60. Singer Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode) is 59. Actor Sonja Sohn is 57. Rapper Ghostface Killah is 51. Actor Daniel Franzese is 43. Rock singer Pierre Bouvier (Simple Plan) is 42. Actor Rosario Dawson is 42.


In 1712, the Carolina Colony was officially divided into two entities: North Carolina and South Carolina.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson, acting on a joint congressional resolution, signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

In 1926, Americans Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett supposedly became the first men to fly over the North Pole. (However, US scholars announced in 1996 that their examination of Byrd’s flight diary suggested he had turned back 150 miles short of his goal.)

In 1945, with World War II in Europe at an end, Soviet forces liberated Czechoslovakia from Nazi occupation. US officials announced that a midnight entertainment curfew was being lifted immediately.

In 1951, the US conducted its first thermonuclear experiment as part of Operation Greenhouse by detonating a 225-kiloton device on Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific nicknamed “George.”

In 1961, in a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton N. Minow decried the majority of television programming as a “vast wasteland.”


In 1962, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology succeeded in reflecting a laser beam off the surface of the moon.

In 1970, President Richard Nixon made a surprise and impromptu predawn visit to the Lincoln Memorial, where he chatted with a group of protesters who’d been resting on the Memorial steps after protests against the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings.

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee opened public hearings on whether to recommend the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. (The committee ended up adopting three articles of impeachment against the president, who resigned before the full House took up any of them.)

In 1980, 35 people were killed when a freighter rammed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay in Florida, causing a 1,400-foot section of the southbound span to collapse.

In 1994, South Africa’s newly elected parliament chose Nelson Mandela to be the country’s first Black president.

In 2011, former House speaker Newt Gingrich announced on social networking websites that he was running for the Republican presidential nomination. Dallas Wiens, the nation’s first full face transplant recipient, joined surgeons at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in his first public appearance since the 15-hour procedure in March 2011. Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt lost control of his bike and tumbled down a mountain pass to his death during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia.


In 2012, President Barack Obama declared his unequivocal support for same-sex marriage in a historic announcement that came three days after Vice President Joe Biden spoke in favor of such unions on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

In 2016, Filipinos went to the polls to elect Rodrigo Duterte, the controversial, tough-talking mayor of Davao city, to be their country’s next president.

In 2019, Pope Francis issued a groundbreaking new church law requiring all Catholic priests and nuns to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups by their superiors to church authorities.

In 2020, the Food and Drug Administration approved a coronavirus antigen test that could quickly detect virus proteins from swabs that were swiped inside the naval cavity. Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard, known for his piercing wail, pounding piano and towering pompadour, died in Tennessee at the age of 87 after battling bone cancer; he had helped shatter the color line on the music charts while introducing Black R&B to white America.