Today is Wednesday, May 1, the 121st day of 2002. There are 244 days left in the year.
On May 1, 1960, the Soviet Union shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance plane near Sverdlovsk and captured its pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
On this date:
In 1786, Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro” premiered in Vienna.
In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition was officially opened in Chicago by President Cleveland.
In 1898, Commodore George Dewey gave the command, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley,” as an American naval force destroyed a Spanish fleet in Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.
In 1931, New York’s 102-story Empire State Building was dedicated.
In 1931, singer Kate Smith began her long-running radio program on CBS.
In 1941, the Orson Welles motion picture “Citizen Kane” premiered in New York.
In 1948, the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) was proclaimed.
In 1967, Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas. (They divorced in 1973.)
In 1971, Amtrak — which combined and streamlined the operations of 18 intercity passenger railroads — went into service.
In 1987, during a visit to West Germany, Pope John Paul II beatified Edith Stein, a Jewish-born Carmelite nun who was gassed in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
Ten years ago:
On the third day of the Los Angeles riots, a visibly shaken Rodney King appeared in public to appeal for calm, asking, “Can we all get along?” President Bush delivered a nationally broadcast address in which he vowed to “use whatever force is necessary” to restore order.
Five years ago:
Britons went to the polls in a national election that gave the Labor Party a resounding victory over the ruling Conservatives. John and Patsy Ramsey, the parents of slain child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, publicly declared their innocence in the case, and asked for the public’s help in finding the killer of their 6-year-old daughter.
One year ago:
President Bush committed the United States to building a shield against ballistic missile attack. FBI Director Louis Freeh announced his retirement. Thomas Blanton Jr. became the second ex-Ku Klux Klansman to be convicted in the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham, Ala., that claimed the lives of four black girls.
Actor Glenn Ford is 86. TV personality Jack Paar is 84. Former astronaut Scott Carpenter is 77. Jazz singer Shirley Horn is 68. Singer Judy Collins is 63. Singer Rita Coolidge is 57. Singer-songwriter Ray Parker Jr. is 48. Hall of Fame jockey Steve Cauthen is 42. Rock musician Johnny Colt is 36. Country singer Tim McGraw is 35. Rock musician D’Arcy is 34.