Today in History: August 31, U.S. mission in Iraq ends

Today in History

Today is Thursday, Aug. 31, the 243rd day of 2023. There are 122 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Aug. 31, 2010, President Barack Obama ended the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, declaring no victory after seven years of bloodshed and telling those divided over the war in his country and around the world: “It is time to turn the page.”

On this date:

In 1881, the first U.S. tennis championships (for men only) began in Newport, Rhode Island.

In 1886, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.3 devastated Charleston, South Carolina, killing at least 60 people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In 1962, the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago became independent of British colonial rule.

In 1980, Poland’s Solidarity labor movement was born with an agreement signed in Gdansk (guh-DANSK’) that ended a 17-day-old strike.

In 1992, white separatist Randy Weaver surrendered to authorities in Naples, Idaho, ending an 11-day siege by federal agents that had claimed the lives of Weaver’s wife, son and a deputy U.S. marshal.

In 1994, Russia officially ended its military presence in the former East Germany and the Baltics after half a century.

In 1996, three adults and four children drowned when their vehicle rolled into John D. Long Lake in Union, South Carolina; they had gone to see a monument to the sons of Susan Smith, who had drowned the two boys in Oct. 1994.

In 1997, Prince Charles brought Princess Diana home for the last time, escorting the body of his former wife to a Britain that was shocked, grief-stricken and angered by her death in a Paris traffic accident earlier that day.

In 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin reported “a significant number of dead bodies in the water” following Hurricane Katrina; Nagin ordered virtually the entire police force to abandon search-and-rescue efforts and to instead stop increasingly hostile thieves.

In 2016, on Mexican soil for the first time as the Republican presidential nominee, a firm but measured Donald Trump defended the right of the United States to build a massive border wall along its southern flank, standing up for the centerpiece of his immigration plan during a joint press conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

In 2019, a gunman carried out a shooting rampage that stretched ten miles between the Texas communities of Midland and Odessa, leaving seven people dead before police killed the gunman outside a movie theater in Odessa.

In 2020, at a rally in Pittsburgh, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden resoundingly condemned violent protesters and called for their prosecution; he accused President Donald Trump of causing the divisions that had ignited the violence. Trump reiterated that he blamed radical troublemakers who he said were stirred up and backed by Biden.

Ten years ago: Short of support at home and allies abroad, President Barack Obama stepped back from a missile strike against Syria and instead asked Congress to support a strike against President Bashar Assad’s regime for suspected use of chemical weapons. British television interviewer David Frost, 74, died aboard a cruise ship bound for the Mediterranean.

Five years ago: At a memorial in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, congressional leaders saluted the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain as a model of service in war and peace and “one of the bravest souls our nation has ever produced.” Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” was laid to rest after an eight-hour funeral at a Detroit church, where guests included Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson. Serena Williams scored her most lopsided victory ever against her sister Venus, winning a third-round match at the U.S. Open, 6-1, 6-2.

One year ago: The U.S. said it had determined that Russia was suffering “severe manpower shortages” in its six-month-old war with Ukraine. A U.S. official said Russia was looking to address the shortage in part by compelling soldiers wounded earlier in war to return to combat, and by recruiting personnel from private security companies and even recruiting from prisons. The U.S. authorized its first update to COVID-19 vaccines, booster doses that targeted the most common omicron strain of the virus. Bed Bath & Beyond said it would shutter stores and lay off workers in a bid to turn around its beleaguered business.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Jack Thompson is 83. Violinist Itzhak Perlman is 78. Singer Van Morrison is 78. Rock musician Rudolf Schenker (The Scorpions) is 75. Actor Richard Gere is 74. Actor Stephen Henderson is 74. Olympic gold medal track and field athlete Edwin Moses is 68. Rock singer Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze) is 66. Rock musician Gina Schock (The Go-Go’s) is 66. Singer Tony DeFranco (The DeFranco Family) is 64. R&B musician Larry Waddell (Mint Condition) is 60. Actor Jaime P. Gomez is 58. Rock musician Jeff Russo (Tonic) is 54. Singer-composer Deborah Gibson is 53. Actor Zack Ward is 53. Golfer Padraig (PAH’-drig) Harrington is 52. Actor Chris Tucker is 51. Actor Sara Ramirez is 48. R&B singer Tamara (Trina & Tamara) is 46.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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