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Fourth Of July: Today In History

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By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Today is Wednesday, July 4, the 186th day of 2012. There are 180 days left in the year. This is Independence Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

On this date:

In 1802, the United States Military Academy officially opened at West Point, N.Y.

In 1831, the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, died in New York City at age 73.

In 1862, English mathematician and clergyman Charles L. Dodgson ("Lewis Carroll") began devising the story of Alice in Wonderland for his young friend Alice Pleasance Liddell (LIH'-duhl) and her sisters during a boating trip.

In 1872, the 30th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, was born in Plymouth, Vt.

In 1912, the 48-star American flag, recognizing New Mexico statehood, was adopted. A train wreck near Corning, N.Y., claimed 39 lives.

In 1939, Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees delivered his famous farewell speech in which he called himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

In 1942, Irving Berlin's musical review "This Is the Army" opened at the Broadway Theater in New York.

In 1959, America's 49-star flag, recognizing Alaskan statehood, was officially unfurled.

In 1960, America's 50-star flag, recognizing Hawaiian statehood, was officially unfurled.

In 1976, Israeli commandos raided Entebbe (en-TEH'-bee) airport in Uganda (yoo-GAHN'-dah), rescuing almost all of the passengers and crew of an Air France jetliner seized by pro-Palestinian hijackers.

In 1982, the space shuttle Columbia concluded its fourth and final test flight with a smooth landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne married his manager, Sharon Arden, in Maui, Hawaii.

In 1987, Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief known as the "Butcher of Lyon," was convicted by a French court of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison (he died in September 1991).

Ten years ago: A gunman opened fire at Israel's El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport, killing two people; gunman Hesham Mohamed Hadayet (huh-SHAHM' moh-HAH'-med hah-DY'-eht) was shot dead by an El Al guard. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., leader of the famed all-black Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and the first black general in the Air Force, died in Washington D.C. at age 89. Winnifred Quick Van Tongerloo, a survivor of the Titanic sinking, died in East Lansing, Mich., at age 98.

Five years ago: BBC reporter Alan Johnston, seized by the Army of Islam in the Gaza Strip the previous March, was released. The head of the radical-held Red Mosque (Maulana Abdul Aziz) in Islamabad, Pakistan, was caught by security forces. (He was released on bail in April 2009.) The Black Sea resort of Sochi (SAH'-chee) was elected the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, taking the Winter Games to Russia for the first time. Bill Pinkney, the last survivor of the original members of the musical group The Drifters, died in Daytona Beach, Fla., at age 81.

One year ago: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return to his country after undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba. Otto von Hapsburg, 98, the oldest son of Austria's last emperor and longtime head of one of Europe's most influential families, died in Poecking, Germany.

Today's Birthdays: Advice columnist Pauline Phillips (the original "Dear Abby") is 94. Actress Eva Marie Saint is 88. Actress Gina Lollobrigida is 85. Playwright Neil Simon is 85. Country singer Ray Pillow is 75. Singer Bill Withers is 74. Actor Ed Bernard is 73. Actress Karolyn Grimes is 72. Broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera is 69. Rhythm-and-blues musician Ralph Johnson (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 61. Rock musician Domingo Ortiz (Widespread Panic) is 60. Singer John Waite is 57. Rock musician Kirk Pengilly (INXS) is 54. Country musician Teddy Carr is 52. Rock DJ Zonka is 50. Tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver is 50. Rock musician Matt Malley is 49. Christian rock singer Michael Sweet is 49. Actor Al Madrigal is 41. Actress Jenica Bergere is 38. Actor-singer John Lloyd Young is 37. Singer Stephen "Ste" McNally (BBMak) is 34. Actress Becki Newton (TV: "Ugly Betty") is 34. TV personality Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino (TV: "Jersey Shore") is 30. Presidential daughter Malia Obama is 14.

Thought for Today: "Where liberty dwells, there is my country." - Attributed to Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790).

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