[Although the ignition source of the fire which killed Grissom, White, and Chaffee on this day in 1967 was never conclusively identified, the astronauts' deaths were attributed to a wide range of lethal design hazards in the early Apollo command module - the kind of clusterfuck which that normally comes from accepting the lowest bid.]
661 CE - The Rashidun Caliphate ended with death of Ali.
1142 - General Yue Fei of the Southern Song Dynasty was executed on orders of Chancellor Qin Hui which may or may not have come directly from Emperor Gaozong; nevertheless, for his groundless act Qin Hui is today remembered as a traitor to the Han race whereas Yue Fei is still considered a paragon of loyalty.
1186 - King of Germany, King of Italy, and Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI (the son and heir of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I and Beatrix of Burgundy) married Constance of Sicily, who was herself the sole legitimate heir of Sicily's King William II - thus adding that crown to his already impressive collection.
1595 - Following a failed attack on San Juan, Puerto Rico, English privateer Sir Francis Drake died of dysentery off the Panamanian coast near Portobelo; he was 55. Drake was later buried at sea in a lead coffin wearing his full armour - a treasure which continues to elude discovery to this day...
1606 - Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators went on trial in London's Westminster Hall for their role in the Gunpowder Plot.
1785 - The University of Georgia was founded, making it the first public university in the United States.
1870 - The Kappa Alpha Theta fraternity was founded at DePauw University.
1880 - Thomas Edison filed a patent for the electric-incandescent lamp, more commonly known today as a light-bulb.
1888 - The National Geographic Society was incorporated in Washington, DC, by Gardiner Greene Hubbard - having been founded two weeks earlier at the Cosmos Club.
1909 - The Young Left was founded in Norway.
1918 - The first hostilities occurred in the Finnish Civil War - pitting the White Guards and the German Empire against the Red Guards and the Russian SFSR.
1939 - The Lockheed P-38 Lightning made its first flight.
1944 - The 900-day Siege of Leningrad was lifted after the 13-day Leningrad-Novgorod Strategic Offensive saw Soviet forces rout the city's Nazi occupiers.
1945 - The Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz was liberated.
1951 - Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site began with a one-kiloton bomb dropped on Frenchman Flats.
1967 - Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee were killed when a fire broke out during a training exercise on the Apollo I spacecraft.
1973 - Colonel William Nolde was killed in action at An Loc eleven hours before the signing of the Paris Peace Accords officially ended the Vietnam War, making him the conflict's last recorded American combat casualty.
1996 - International Holocaust Remembrance Day was first celebrated in Germany.
2003 - The first selections for the National Recording Registry were announced by the Library of Congress; they included 50 diverse offerings such as those made by Thomas Edison when first exhibiting his phonograph in 1888, the Metropolitan Opera's Mapleson Cylinders, Ragtime piano rolls by Scott Joplin, Booker T. Washington's 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech, and a recording of Casey at the Bat as performed by vaudevillian DeWolf Hopper among others.
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