Saturday July 06, 2002

Today’s Highlight in History: 

On July 6, 1944, 169 people died in a fire that broke out in the main tent of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Hartford, Conn. 

On this date: 

In 1535, Sir Thomas More was executed in England for treason. 

In 1885, French scientist Louis Pasteur successfully tested an anti-rabies vaccine on a boy who had been bitten by an infected dog. 

In 1923, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed. 

In 1945, President Truman signed an executive order establishing the Medal of Freedom. 

In 1957, Althea Gibson became the first black tennis player to win a Wimbledon singles title, defeating fellow American Darlene Hard. 

In 1967, the Biafran War erupted. (The war claimed some 600,000 lives.) 

In 1989, the U.S. Army destroyed its last Pershing 1-A missiles at an ammunition plant in Karnack, Texas, under terms of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. 

Ten years ago: The Group of Seven industrial nations opened their 18th annual economic summit in Munich, Germany. 

Five years ago: The rover Sojourner rolled down a ramp from the Mars Pathfinder lander onto the Martian landscape to begin inspecting the soil and rocks of the Red Planet. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas captured Mexico City’s mayoral race while Mexico’s ruling party suffered devastating losses in congressional elections. Pete Sampras won his fourth Wimbledon title as he defeated Cedric Pioline of France. 

One year ago: Former FBI agent Robert Hanssen pleaded guilty to 15 criminal counts and agreed to give a full accounting of his spying activities for Moscow. The United States turned over to Japanese authorities an American serviceman accused of rape. Eight-year-old Jessie Arbogast was badly injured in a shark attack off the Florida coast. 

Today’s Birthdays: Former first lady Nancy Reagan is 81. Talk show host Merv Griffin is 77. Actress Janet Leigh is 75. Singer-actress Della Reese is 71. President George W. Bush is 56. Actor-director Sylvester Stallone is 56. Actor Fred Dryer is 56. Country singer Nanci Griffith is 49.