Today in history
On July 31, 1777, during the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette, a 19-year-old French nobleman, was made a major-general in the American Continental Army.
In 1930, the radio character “The Shadow” made his debut as narrator of the “Detective Story Hour” on CBS Radio.
In 1942, Oxfam International had its beginnings as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief was founded in England.
In 1954, Pakistan’s K2 was conquered as two members of an Italian expedition, Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli, reached the summit.
In 1957, the Distant Early Warning Line, a system of radar stations designed to detect Soviet bombers approaching North America, went into operation.
In 1964, the American space probe Ranger 7 reached the moon, transmitting pictures back to Earth before impacting the lunar surface.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in Moscow.
In 1992, the former Soviet republic of Georgia was admitted to the United Nations as its 179th member.
Ten years ago: The Army censured retired threestar Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger for a “perfect storm of mistakes, misjudgments and a failure of leadership” after the 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan of Army Ranger Pat Tillman. The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force for Sudan’s Darfur region.
Five years ago: Three Indian electric grids collapsed in a cascade, cutting power to 620 million people in the world’s biggest blackout. At the London games, the team of Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber won the first U.S. Olympic team title in women’s gymnastics since 1996. Michael Phelps broke the Olympic medals record with his 19th as the United States romped to a dominating win in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. Author, playwright, politician and commentator Gore Vidal, 86, died in Los Angeles.
One year ago: Pope Francis told young people who had flocked by the hundreds of thousands to a Catholic jamboree near Krakow, Poland, that they needed to “believe in a new humanity” stronger than evil, and cautioned against concluding that one religion is more violent than others. Ariya Jutanugarn won the Women’s British Open at Woburn for her first major championship and fourth LPGA Tour victory of the year.
“History is idle gossip about a happening whose truth is lost the instant it has taken place.” — Gore Vidal (1925-2012).