Today in History

The Associated Press Published:

Today is Sunday, Feb. 26, the 57th day of 2012. There are 309 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 26, 1962, after becoming the first American to orbit the Earth, astronaut John Glenn told a joint meeting of Congress, "Exploration and the pursuit of knowledge have always paid dividends in the long run."

On this date:

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from exile on the Island of Elba.

In 1861, Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., received its initial funding from its namesake, businessman Matthew Vassar.

In 1870, an experimental air-driven subway, the Beach Pneumatic Transit, opened in New York City for public demonstrations.

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure establishing Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

In 1929, President Calvin Coolidge signed a measure establishing Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

In 1940, the United States Air Defense Command was created.

In 1942, "How Green Was My Valley" won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1941, beating out nine other films, including "The Maltese Falcon" and "Citizen Kane."

In 1952, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that Britain had developed its own atomic bomb.

In 1970, National Public Radio was incorporated.

In 1987, the Tower Commission, which had probed the Iran-Contra affair, issued its report, which rebuked President Ronald Reagan for failing to control his national security staff.

In 1992, Armenian forces attacked the village of Khodzhaly, resulting in the deaths of 613 Azerbaijanis, according to Azerbaijani authorities. (Armenian forces did not deny the attack, but have said the death toll is exaggerated.)

In 1993, a bomb built by Islamic extremists exploded in the parking garage of New York's World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000 others.

Ten years ago: Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, at times combative, insisted during a Senate hearing that he knew nothing about manipulation of company books and denied misleading Congress as alleged by some lawmakers and Enron officials. Pharmacist Robert R. Courtney pleaded guilty in Kansas City, Mo., to watering down chemotherapy drugs. (Courtney was later sentenced to 30 years in prison.) Gunmen killed 11 minority Shiite (SHEE'-eyet) Muslims praying in a mosque in Pakistan.

Five years ago: Iraq's Shiite vice president, Adel Abdul-Mahdi (ah-DEEL' AHB'-dool-MAH'-dee), narrowly escaped death as a blast ripped through a government meeting hall just hours after it had been searched by U.S. teams with bomb-sniffing dogs; at least 10 people were killed. The Iraqi Cabinet approved draft legislation to manage the country's vast oil industry and divide its wealth among the population.

One year ago: In a statement, President Barack Obama said Moammar Gadhafi had lost his legitimacy to rule and urged the Libyan leader to leave power immediately. Space shuttle Discovery arrived at the International Space Station, making its final visit before being parked at a museum.

Today's Birthdays: Singer Fats Domino is 84. Country-rock musician Paul Cotton (Poco) is 69. Actor-director Bill Duke is 69. Singer Mitch Ryder is 67. Rock musician Jonathan Cain (Journey) is 62. Singer Michael Bolton is 59. Actor Greg Germann is 54. Former Democratic National Chairman Tim Kaine is 54. Bandleader John McDaniel is 51. Actress Jennifer Grant is 46. Rock musician Tim Commerford (Audioslave) is 44. Singer Erykah Badu (EHR'-ih-kah bah-DOO') is 41. Rhythm-and-blues singer Rico Wade (Society of Soul) is 40. Olympic gold medal swimmer Jenny Thompson is 39. Rhythm-and-blues singer Kyle Norman (Jagged Edge) is 37. Actor Greg Rikaart is 35. Rock musician Chris Culos (O.A.R.) is 33. Rhythm-and-blues singer Corinne Bailey Rae is 33. Country singer Rodney Hayden is 32. Actress Taylor Dooley is 19.

Thought for Today: "The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation." -- Isaac D'Israeli, English author (1766-1848).

(Above Advance for Use Sunday, Feb. 26)

Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.