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Today in history: July 3

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Monday, July 3, the 184th day of 2006. There are 181 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On July 3, 1863, the three-day Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., ended in a major victory for the North as Confederate troops retreated.

On this date:
In 1608, the city of Quebec was founded by Samuel de Champlain.

In 1775, Gen. George Washington took command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, Mass.

In 1890, Idaho became the 43rd state of the Union.

In 1898, the U.S. Navy defeated a Spanish fleet in the harbor at Santiago, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War.

In 1930, Congress created the U.S. Veterans Administration.

In 1962, Algeria became independent after 132 years of French rule.

In 1971, singer Jim Morrison of The Doors died in Paris at age 27.

In 1976, Israel launched its daring mission to rescue about 100 passengers and Air France crew members being held at Entebbe Airport in Uganda by pro-Palestinian hijackers.

In 1986, President Reagan presided over a gala ceremony in New York Harbor that saw the relighting of the renovated Statue of Liberty.

In 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iran Air jetliner over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 people aboard.

Ten years ago: Russians went to the polls to re-elect Boris Yeltsin president over his Communist challenger, Gennady Zyuganov, in a runoff. A blaze destroyed a fireworks store in Scottown, Ohio, filled with Fourth of July shoppers, killing nine people and injuring 11.

Five years ago: Flashing the defiance that marked his 13 years in power, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic refused to enter a plea on war crimes charges in his first appearance before a U.N. tribunal at The Hague. General Electric’s $41 billion purchase of Honeywell International was vetoed by the European Union — the first time a merger of two U.S. companies was stopped solely by European regulators.

One year ago: A NASA space probe, Deep Impact, hit its comet target as planned in a mission to learn how the solar system formed. Saudi security forces killed Moroccan Younis Mohammed Ibrahim al-Hayari, the al-Qaida terrorist group’s leader in the country, during a gun battle in Riyadh. Roger Federer won his third consecutive Wimbledon title by beating Andy Roddick 6-2, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

Today’s Birthdays: Movie director Ken Russell is 79. Jazz musician Pete Fountain is 76. Playwright Tom Stoppard is 69. Writer-producer Jay Tarses is 67. Singer Fontella Bass is 66. Actor Kurtwood Smith is 63. Actor Michael Cole (“The Mod Squad”) is 61. Country singer Johnny Lee is 60. Writer Dave Barry is 59. Actress Betty Buckley is 59. Rock singer-musician Paul Barrere (Little Feat) is 58. Actress Jan Smithers is 57. Former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier is 55. Talk show host Montel Williams is 50. Country singer Aaron Tippin is 48. Rock musician Vince Clarke (Erasure) is 46. Actor Tom Cruise is 44. Actor Thomas Gibson is 44. Actress Hunter Tylo is 44. Singer Ishmael Butler is 37. Rock musician Kevin Hearn (Barenaked Ladies) is 37. Actress-singer Audra McDonald is 36. Singer Shane Lynch (Boyzone) is 30. Rhythm-and-blues singer Tonia Tash (Divine) is 27. Actor Grant Rosenmeyer is 15. Actress Kelsey Batelaan is 11.

Thought for Today: “The passionate belief in the superior worthwhileness of our children. It is stored up in us as a great battery charged by the accumulated instincts of uncounted generations.” — Ruth Benedict, American anthropologist (1887-1948).