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Today in history: May 7

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

Today is Saturday, May 7, the 127th day of 2005. There are 238 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 7, 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France.

On this date:
In 1789, the first inaugural ball was held in New York in honor of President and Mrs. Washington.

In 1847, the American Medical Association was founded in Philadelphia.

In 1915, nearly 1,200 people died when a German torpedo sank the British liner Lusitania off the Irish coast.

In 1939, Germany and Italy announced a military and political alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.

In 1954, the 55-day Battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam ended with Vietnamese insurgents overrunning French forces.

In 1963, the United States launched the “Telstar 2” communications satellite.

In 1975, President Ford formally declared an end to the “Vietnam era.” In Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Saigon — the Viet Cong celebrated its takeover.

In 1977, Seattle Slew won the Kentucky Derby, the first of its Triple Crown victories.

In 1984, a $180 million out-of-court settlement was announced in the Agent Orange class-action suit brought by Vietnam veterans who charged they’d suffered injury from exposure to the defoliant.

In 2002, Seattle Slew died in Lexington, Ky., at age 28.

Ten years ago: Jacques Chirac, the conservative mayor of Paris, won France’s presidency in his third attempt, defeating Lionel Jospin in a runoff to end 14 years of Socialist rule. Leaders of 54 nations that fought on both sides in World War II signed olive leaves in London in a ceremony of reconciliation.

Five years ago: A second fire was set to contain an earlier blaze that was begun to clear brush on the Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico; the second fire blew out of control, destroying more than 200 homes and damaging part of the Los Alamos National Laboratory before it was tamed. President Vladimir Putin took the oath of office in Russia’s first democratic transfer of power. Actor-producer-author Douglas Fairbanks Jr. died in New York at age 90.

One year ago: Army Pvt. 1st Class Lynndie England, shown in photographs smiling and pointing at naked Iraqi prisoners, was charged by the military with assaulting the detainees and conspiring to mistreat them, becoming the seventh soldier charged in the scandal. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld offered “my deepest apology” to abused Iraqi prisoners and warned that videos and photos yet to come could further inflame worldwide outrage.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Darren McGavin is 83. Singer Teresa Brewer is 74. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., is 73. Singer Jimmy Ruffin is 66. Singer Johnny Maestro is 66. Actress Robin Strasser is 60. Singer-songwriter Bill Danoff is 59. Rock musician Bill Kreutzmann (The Dead) is 59. NBC newsman Tim Russert is 55. Actor Robert Hegyes is 54. Movie writer-director Amy Heckerling is 51. Actor Michael E. Knight is 46. Rock musician Phil Campbell (Motorhead) is 44. Country musician Rick Schell (Pinmonkey) is 42. Rock singer-musician Chris O’Connor (Primitive Radio Gods) is 40. Actress Traci Lords is 36. Singer Eagle-Eye Cherry is 33. Actor Breckin Meyer is 31. Actor Taylor Abrahamse is 14.

Thought for Today: “Real stories, in distinction from those we invent, have no author. Although history owes its existence to men, it is not ’made’ by them.” — Hannah Arendt, American historian and philosopher (1906-1975).