Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 21, the 233th day of 2013. There are 132 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 21, 1983, Philippine opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr., ending a self-imposed exile in the United States, was shot dead moments after stepping off a plane at Manila International Airport.

On this date:

In 1831, Nat Turner led a violent slave rebellion in Virginia resulting in the deaths of at least 55 white people. He was later executed.

In 1858, the first of seven debates between Illinois senatorial contenders Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place.

In 1863, pro-Confederate raiders attacked Lawrence, Kan., massacring the men and destroying the town's buildings.

In 1911, Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. The painting was recovered two years later in Italy.

In 1912, the Boy Scouts of America named its first Eagle Scout, Arthur Rose Eldred of Troop 1 in Rockville Centre, N.Y.

In 1940, exiled Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky died in a Mexican hospital from wounds inflicted by an assassin the day before.

In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order making Hawaii the 50th state.

In 1963, martial law was declared in South Vietnam as police and army troops began a violent crackdown on Buddhist anti-government protesters.

In 1972, the Republican National Convention opened in Miami Beach.

In 1983, the musical play "La Cage Aux Folles" opened on Broadway.

In 1991, the hard-line coup against Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev collapsed in the face of a popular uprising led by Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin.

In 1993, in a serious setback for NASA, engineers lost contact with the Mars Observer spacecraft as it was about to reach the red planet on a $980 million mission.

Ten years ago: Alabama's top judge, Chief Justice Roy Moore, refused to back down in his fight to keep a Ten Commandments monument and lashed out at his colleagues who'd ordered it removed from the rotunda of the state judicial building. Palestinian militants abandoned a 2-month-old truce after Israel killed a Hamas leader in a missile attack. The French government acknowledged that as many as 10,000 people might have died in the country's heat wave. Paul Hamm (hahm) put together a near-perfect routine on the high bar to become the first American man to win the all-around gold medal at the World Gymnastics Championship.

Five years ago: President George W. Bush issued a federal disaster declaration for parts of Florida affected by Tropical Storm Fay. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Baghdad for discussions with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top Iraqi officials. Twin Taliban suicide bombings at Pakistan's largest weapons complex killed at least 67 people. At the Summer Olympics, Japan defeated the U.S. softball team, 3-1, to win the gold medal. Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor won their second consecutive gold medal in beach volleyball, beating Wang Jie and Tian Jia of China. The U.S. women's soccer team won the gold medal by beating Brazil 1-0 in extra time. One-time actor Fred Crane, who'd played one of the Tarleton twins in "Gone With the Wind," died in Atlanta at age 90.

One year ago: An insurgent rocket attack damaged the plane of the top U.S. general as it sat parked at a coalition base in Afghanistan; U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was unhurt. Missouri Rep. Todd Akin defied the nation's top Republicans and refused to abandon a Senate bid hobbled by fallout over his comments that women's bodies could prevent pregnancies in cases of "legitimate rape." (Akin went on to lose the fall election.)

Today's Birthdays: Former football player Pete Retzlaff is 82. Actor-director Melvin Van Peebles is 81. Playwright Mart Crowley is 78. Singer Kenny Rogers is 75. Actor Clarence Williams III is 74. Rock-and-roll musician James Burton is 74. Singer Harold Reid (The Statler Brothers) is 74. Singer Jackie DeShannon is 72. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Lanier is 68. Actress Patty McCormack is 68. Pop singer-musician Carl Giammarese (jee-ah mah-REE'-see) is 66. Actress Loretta Devine is 64. NBC newsman Harry Smith is 62. Singer Glenn Hughes is 61. Country musician Nick Kane is 59. Actress Kim Cattrall is 57. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon is 54. Actress Cleo King is 51. MLB All-Star pitcher John Wetteland is 47. Rock singer Serj Tankian (TAN'-kee-ahn) (System of a Down) is 46. Actress Carrie-Anne Moss is 43. MLB player Craig Counsell is 43. Rock musician Liam Howlett (Prodigy) is 42. Actress Alicia Witt is 38. Singer Kelis (kuh-LEES') is 34. TV personality Brody Jenner is 30. Singer Melissa Schuman is 29. Olympic gold medal sprinter Usain (yoo-SAYN') Bolt is 27. Actor Cody Kasch is 26. Country singer Kacey Musgraves is 25. Actress Hayden Panettiere (pan'-uh-tee-EHR') is 24. Actor RJ Mitte is 21.

Thought for Today: "To know a little less and to understand a little more: that, it seems to me, is our greatest need." — James Ramsey Ullman, American author (1907-1971).

(Above Advance for Use Wednesday, Aug. 21)

Copyright 2013, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

More ABC News