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Today in history: August 7

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

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Aug. 7, 1942, U.S. forces landed at Guadalcanal, marking the start of the first major allied offensive in the Pacific during World War II.

On this date:

In 1782, George Washington created the Order of the Purple Heart, a decoration to recognize merit in enlisted men and noncommissioned officers.

In 1789, the U.S. War Department was established by Congress.

In 1927, the Peace Bridge between the United States and Canada was dedicated during ceremonies attended by the Prince of Wales and Vice President Charles Dawes.

In 1934, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling striking down the government’s attempt to ban the controversial James Joyce novel “Ulysses.”

In 1947, the balsa wood raft Kon-Tiki, which had carried a six-man crew 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean, crashed into a reef in a Polynesian archipelago.

In 1959, the United States launched Explorer 6, which sent back a picture of the Earth.

In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, giving President Johnson broad powers in dealing with reported North Vietnamese attacks on U.S. forces.

In 1976, scientists in Pasadena, Calif., announced that the Viking 1 spacecraft had found the strongest indications to date of possible life on Mars.

In 1989, a plane carrying Congressman Mickey Leland, D-Texas, and 15 others disappeared over Ethiopia. (The wreckage of the plane was found six days later; there were no survivors.)

In 1998, terrorist bombs at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Ten years ago: NASA researchers formally presented their case for the existence of life long ago on Mars. More than 6 million American Online customers worldwide were left stranded when the system crashed for almost 19 hours. A flash flood at a Pyrenees mountain campsite in Spain claimed at least 87 lives.

Five years ago: Three researchers told a committee at the National Academy of Sciences they were unswayed by arguments against human cloning and would soon try to clone human beings. The Vatican denounced what it called a “slanderous campaign” against the Roman Catholic Church over the Holocaust-era pope, Pius XII. Harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler died in London at age 87.

One year ago: ABC anchorman Peter Jennings died in New York at age 67. Seven people in a Russian mini-submarine trapped for nearly three days under the Pacific Ocean were rescued after a British remote-controlled vehicle cut away undersea cables that snarled their vessel. Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resigned from his post to protest an upcoming withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank.

Today’s Birthdays: Writer-producer Stan Freberg is 80. Rhythm-and-blues singer Herb Reed (The Platters) is 78. Bluesman Magic Slim is 69. Actress Verna Bloom is 67. Humorist Garrison Keillor is 64. Singer B.J. Thomas is 64. Singer Lana Cantrell is

63. Actor John Glover is 62. Actor David Rasche is 62. Rhythm-and-blues singer Harold Hudson is 57. Country singer Rodney Crowell is 56. Actor Wayne Knight is 51. Rock singer Bruce Dickinson is 48. Marathon runner Alberto Salazar is 48. Actor David Duchovny is 46. Country musician Michael Mahler (Wild Horses) is

45. Jazz musician Marcus Roberts is 43. Country singer Raul Malo (The Mavericks) is 41. Actress Charlotte Lewis is 39. Actress Sydney Penny is 35. Actress Charlize Theron is 31.

Thought for Today: “You must learn day by day, year by year, to broaden your horizon. The more things you love, the more you are interested in, the more you enjoy, the more you are indignant about — the more you have left when anything happens.” — Ethel Barrymore, American actress (1879-1959).