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Today in History — May 8

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

Today is Tuesday, May 8, the 128th day of 2007. There are 237 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 8, 1945, President Truman announced in a radio address that World War II had ended in Europe.

On this date:
In 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River.

In 1794, Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, was executed on the guillotine during France’s Reign of Terror.

In 1846, the first major battle of the Mexican-American War was fought at Palo Alto, Texas, with no clear victory for either side.

In 1884, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, was born near Lamar, Miss.

In 1886, Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton invented the flavor syrup for Coca-Cola.

In 1958, Vice President Richard Nixon was shoved, stoned, booed and spat upon by anti-American protesters in Lima, Peru.

In 1962, the musical comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” opened on Broadway.

In 1970, anti-war protests took place across the United States and around the world; in New York, construction workers broke up a demonstration on Wall Street.

In 1973, militant American Indians who had held the South Dakota hamlet of Wounded Knee for 10 weeks surrendered.

In 1987, Gary Hart, dogged by questions about his personal life, including his relationship with Miami model Donna Rice, withdrew from the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Ten years ago: President Clinton assured Central American leaders during a summit in Costa Rica that they need not fear mass deportations of immigrants who’d sought refuge in the United States during U.S.-backed conflicts. After months of railing against Democrats for taking foreign money, the Republican Party announced it had returned $122,400 in contributions from a Hong Kong company.

Five years ago: FBI Director Robert Mueller told a Senate committee that an FBI memo from Phoenix warning that several Arabs were suspiciously training at a U.S. aviation school would not have led officials to the 9/11 hijackers even if they had followed up the warning with more vigor. Eleven French engineers, their Pakistani driver and a passer-by were killed in a suicide bombing in Karachi.

One year ago: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote to President Bush, proposing “new solutions” to their differences in the first letter from an Iranian head of state to an American president in 27 years. Oscar Arias was sworn in as Costa Rica’s president. Stunt artist David Blaine emerged weak and wrinkly from a week spent submerged within an eight-foot snow globe-like tank in the plaza of New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts — but without a world record for holding his breath.

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Don Rickles is 81. Naturalist Sir David Attenborough is 81. Singer Toni Tennille is 67. Actor James Mitchum is 66. Country singer Jack Blanchard is 65. Jazz musician Keith Jarrett is 62. Singer Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 56. Rock musician Chris Frantz (Talking Heads) is 56. Rockabilly singer Billy Burnette is 54. Rock musician Alex Van Halen is 54. Actor David Keith is 53. Actor Stephen Furst is 53. Actress Melissa Gilbert is 43. Rock musician Dave Rowntree (Blur) is 43. Country musician Del Gray is 39. Rock singer Darren Hayes is 35. Singer Enrique Iglesias is 32. Singer Ana Maria Lombo (Eden’s Crush) is 29. Actress Julia Whelan is 22.

Thought for Today: “What this country really needs is a good five-cent nickel.” — Franklin P. Adams, American journalist-humorist (1881-1960).