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1992: a year filled with plenty of anniversaries to celebrate


Three days into the New Year may be too early to ponder upcoming celebrations.

And with lingering uncertainty about the economy, people may not see much reason to jump for joy. But there is cause to let the good times roll.

Be it known that 1992 is a year of anniversaries, from the finding of America by Italian navigator Christopher Columbus 500 years ago to the founding of the city of Aberdeen 100 years ago.

No one knows for sure the origins of America's obsession with marking time, commemorating past events, celebrating milestones. But if there ever were a year to commemorate, 1992 is as good as any.

Parades, discussions, movies and celebrations nationwide mark Columbus' discovery of the New World 500 years ago, in 1492 -- the same year Leonardo da Vinci drew a picture of a flying machine, and the profession of book publisher -- founder, printer and bookseller -- emerged.

This year also marks the 400th anniversary of Tintoretto's much-celebrated painting of "The Last Supper," as well as publication of Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors."

And, as life is one thing after another, here are snippets of milestones that accompany 1992, with help from "The Timetables of History," 3rd edition (Simon & Schuster):

* 300th anniversary: France ending its attempt to invade England as the French Navy is defeated at La Hogue. College of William and Mary -- the second oldest American university after Harvard -- founded in Virginia. First Salem witch trials.

* 200th anniversary: America's two-party political system -- the Republicans, under Thomas Jefferson, and the Federalists, under John Adams and Alexander Hamilton.

* 150th anniversary: anesthetic first used in surgery, by Dr. Crawford Long, who removed a tumor from a man's neck using sulfuric ether, popularly known as laughing gas.

* 100th anniversary: Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" ballet. The city of Aberdeen. In sports, the heavyweight boxing title to "Gentleman Jim" Corbett after he defeated John L. Sullivan.

* 90th anniversary: United States at the Panama Canal. John Steinbeck's birth date.

* 80th anniversary: the sinking of the luxury liner Titanic during her maiden voyage, in which more than 1,500 people drowned. Athlete Jim Thorpe's spectacular victories in the pentathlon and decathlon at the Summer Olympics in Stockholm. He was stripped of his medals a year later because it was learned he had played semi-professional baseball. Woodrow Wilson became president.

* 70th anniversary: introduction of the self-winding wristwatch. Revenues for the federal government stood at $4.9 million, expenditures at $4 million.

* 60th anniversary: Franklin Delano Roosevelt's defeat of Herbert Hoover. Kidnapping of aviator Charles Lindbergh's baby, later found murdered. The discovery of the neutron and vitamin D. The song, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," a popular hit in the Depression. Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

* 50th anniversary: Defeat of Japan by America at Midway and the beginning of mass exterminations of Jews in Nazi gas chambers. Release of Disney's movie, "Bambi." Splitting the atom, by scientist Enrico Fermi. Publication of the U.S. military newspaper "Stars and Stripes."

* 40th anniversary: Dwight D. Eisenhower's resignation as the Supreme Commander in Europe and election as U.S. president, beating Adlai Stevenson. Explosion of the first U.S. hydrogen bomb at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific.

* 30th anniversary: the United States' establishment of a military council in South Vietnam. President John F. Kennedy's announcement that the Soviet Union had established a missile base in Cuba, starting a chain of events now referred to as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The discovery that the drug Thalidomide caused malformations in children. The orbiting of Friendship VII around the Earth by astronauts John Glenn, Walter Schirra and Scott Carpenter. Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in an NBA game.

* 20th anniversary: Death of Jackie Robinson, first black baseball player in the major leagues. Swimmer Mark Spitz's win of a record seven gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Munich, where 11 Israeli athletes were murdered. Hurricane Agnes torments Maryland and the eastern United States, causing $1.7 billion indamages. The assassination attempt by Arthur Bremer on presidential contender and Alabama Governor George C. Wallace in Laurel. The 32election of two men who would leave in scandal, Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, as president and vice president. The Watergate scandal began after Washington police arrested five men inside the Democratic National Headquarters at the hotel.

* 10th anniversary: The death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who died at age 76. Opening of EPCOT Center at Disneyworld in Orlando, Fla. The crash of Boeing 737 in the Potomac River in Washington, where 78 people died.The breakup of AT&T.; The Falkland Islands war.

Of course, people everywhere will be glad to celebrate the decade anniversary of the "Jupiter Effect," or "The Harmonic Conversion." The much-hyped planetary configuration of March 10, 1982, when the planets aligned on the same side of the sun stirred much fear that it would cause disasters and unusual natural phenomena.

And for 2,075 couples, it's an aluminum anniversary, 10 years since they were wed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church. The mass ceremony took place at Madison Square Garden in New York.

* 5th anniversary: the song, "We Are the World," recorded by U.S.A. for Africa, a group of multi-talented musicians and superstars to raise money for thAfrican famine relief effort. Arab terrorists' hijack of a TWA airliner, holding 39 Americans captive for 17 days. With $130 billion in the red, the United States became the world's largest debtor.

And one year ago, Panamanian Gen. Manuel Noriega surrendered to U.S. troops and was extradited to the United States on drug-trafficking charges. South Africa banned apartheid. Iraq invaded Kuwait, starting the Persian Gulf war. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize. And water bottler Perrier recalled millions of cases after traces of benzene were detected in some bottles.

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