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Today in history: September 2

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

Today is Friday, Sept. 2, the 245th day of 2005. There are 120 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Sept. 2, 1945, Japan formally surrendered in ceremonies aboard the USS Missouri, ending World War II.

On this date:
In 1666, the Great Fire of London broke out, claiming thousands of homes, but only a few lives.

In 1789, the United States Treasury Department was established.

In 1864, during the Civil War, Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s forces occupied Atlanta.

In 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt offered the advice, “Speak softly and carry a big stick” in a speech at the Minnesota State Fair.

In 1930, the first non-stop airplane flight from Europe to the United States was completed in 37 hours as Capt. Dieudonne Costes and Maurice Bellonte of France arrived in Valley Stream, N.Y, aboard The Question Mark.

In 1935, a hurricane slammed into the Florida Keys, claiming 423 lives.

In 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam an independent republic.

In 1963, Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace prevented the integration of Tuskegee High School by encircling the building with state troopers.

In 1969, North Vietnamese president Ho Chi Minh died.

In 1985, it was announced that a U.S.-French expedition had located the wreckage of the Titanic about 560 miles off Newfoundland.

Ten years ago: At a military cemetery on a hill high above Honolulu, President Clinton marked the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, saying it taught Americans that “the blessings of freedom are never easy or free.”

Five years ago: Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans welcomed home 63 former spies and guerrillas released by South Korea.

One year ago: President Bush pledged “a safer world and a more hopeful America” as he accepted his party’s nomination for a second term at the Republican National Convention in New York. A military jury at Camp Pendleton, Calif., convicted Marine Sgt. Gary Pittman of dereliction of duty and abuse of prisoners at a makeshift detention camp in Iraq. A jury at Fort Lewis, Wash., convicted a National Guardsman of trying to help al-Qaida; Spc. Ryan G. Anderson was sentenced to life in prison.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Meinhardt Raabe (the Munchkin coroner in “The Wizard of Oz”) is 90. Dancer-actress Marge Champion is 86. Jazz musician Horace Silver is 77. Former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, R-Wyo., is 74. Former Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth is 68. Rhythm-and-blues singer Sam Gooden (The Impressions) is 66. Singer Jimmy Clanton is 65. Rhythm-and-blues singer Rosalind Ashford (Martha & the Vandellas) is 62. Singer Joe Simon is 62. Football Hall-of-Famer Terry Bradshaw is 57. Actor Mark Harmon is 54. Tennis player Jimmy Connors is 53. Actress Linda Purl is 50. Rock musician Jerry Augustyniak (10,000 Maniacs) is 47. Country musician Paul Deakin (The Mavericks) is 46. Actor Keanu Reeves is 41. Actress Salma Hayek is 39. Actress Kristen Cloke is 37. Actress Cynthia Watros is 37. Rhythm-and-blues singer K-Ci is 36. Singer Tony Thompson is 30. Rock musician Sam Rivers (Limp Bizkit) is 28.

Thought for Today: “Life is a tragic mystery. We are pierced and driven by laws we only half understand, we find that the lesson we learn again and again is that of accepting heroic helplessness.” — Florida Scott-Maxwell, American writer and psychologist (1884-1979).