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Today in History

Today is Saturday, Feb. 23, the 54th day of 2019. There are 311 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 23, 1954, the first mass inoculation of schoolchildren against polio using the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh as some 5,000 students were vaccinated.

On this date:

In 1685, composer George Frideric Handel was born in present-day Germany.

In 1822, Boston was granted a charter to incorporate as a city.

In 1836, the siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio, Texas.

In 1848, the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, died in Washington D.C., at age 80.

In 1870, Mississippi was readmitted to the Union.

In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge signed a bill creating the Federal Radio Commission, forerunner of the Federal Communications Commission.

In 1942, the first shelling of the U.S. mainland during World War II occurred as a Japanese submarine fired on an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, causing little damage.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima captured Mount Suribachi, where they raised two American flags (the second flag-raising was captured in the iconic Associated Press photograph.)

In 1965, film comedian Stan Laurel, 74, died in Santa Monica, California.

In 1998, 42 people were killed, some 2,600 homes and businesses damaged or destroyed, by tornadoes in central Florida.

In 2004, the Army canceled its Comanche helicopter program after sinking $6.9 billion into it over 21 years. Education Secretary Rod Paige likened the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, to a “terrorist organization” during a private White House meeting with governors. (Paige later called it a poor choice of words, but stood by his claim the NEA was using “obstructionist scare tactics.”)

In 2005, a jury was selected in Santa Maria, California, to decide Michael Jackson’s fate on charges that he’d molested a teenage boy at his Neverland Ranch. (Jackson was later acquitted.)

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama pledged to dramatically slash the skyrocketing annual budget deficit as he started to dole out the record $787 billion economic stimulus package he’d signed the previous week.

Five years ago: The Sochi Olympics completed a 17-day run with Canada’s 3-0 victory over Sweden in the men’s hockey final, the last of 98 gold medal events. Dale Earnhardt Jr. persevered through rain and wrecks to win the Daytona 500 for the second time, a decade after his first victory in the “Great American Race.” Alice Herz Sommer, 110, believed to be the oldest survivor of the Holocaust, died in London. Samuel Sheinbein, 33, who’d fled from the U.S. to Israel after murdering and dismembering a Maryland man in 1997, was killed in a shootout at an Israeli prison.

One year ago: Rick Gates, a former senior adviser to Donald Trump’s election campaign, pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and false-statements charges, becoming a cooperating witness in the probe of Trump’s campaign and Russia’s election interference. Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced plans to put more armed guards in schools and make it harder for young adults and some with mental illness to buy guns. Teachers and staff returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, for the first time since the shooting that left 17 people dead. Canada’s Olympic men’s hockey team failed to reach the final at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, losing to Germany 4-3 in the semifinals.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Peter Fonda is 79. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff is 76. Author John Sandford is 75. Country-rock musician Rusty Young is 73. Actress Patricia Richardson is 68. Former NFL player Ed “Too Tall” Jones is 68. Rock musician Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) is 67. Singer Howard Jones is 64. Rock musician Michael Wilton (Queensryche) is 57. Country singer Dusty Drake is 55. Actress Kristin Davis is 54. Tennis player Helena Sukova is 54. Actor Marc Price is 51. TV personality/businessman Daymond John (TV: “Shark Tank”) is 50. Actress Niecy Nash is 49. Rock musician Jeff Beres (Sister Hazel) is 48. Country singer Steve Holy is 47. Rock musician Lasse (loss) Johansson (The Cardigans) is 46. Film and theater composer Robert Lopez is 44. Actress Kelly Macdonald is 43. Rapper Residente (Calle 13) is 41. Actor Josh Gad is 38. Actress Emily Blunt is 36. Actor Aziz Ansari is 36. Actor Tye White (TV: “Greenleaf”) is 33. Actress Dakota Fanning is 25.

Thought for Today: “The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice, love, passion.” — Nadia Boulanger (boo-lahn-ZHAY’), French composer and teacher (1887-1979).

Copyright 2019, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.