Jul 18, 1962: Congress preserves birthplace and property of Theodore Roosevelt On this day in 1962, Congress votes in favor of a bill that preserves former President Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace and former home in Manhattan, as well as an estate called Sagamore Hill where he lived from 1885 until his death. These were not the first sites preserved in honor of the late president. The National Park Service had already placed two of Roosevelt's ranching and hunting properties on the preservation list: the Maltese Cross Cabin, in Medora, North Dakota, and the Elkhorn Ranch on the Little Missouri River in the Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park. According to the Congressional Record, Roosevelt lived and/or administered these properties between 1884 and 1893 before becoming president in 1901. Another site along the Potomac River was designated Theodore Roosevelt Island in honor of the late president's dedication to conservation. The National Park Service also owns and maintains the birthplaces of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many other presidential birthplaces and residences are maintained by private historical associations. Jul 18, 1968: Johnson meets Thieu in Honolulu President Lyndon B. Johnson meets South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu in Honolulu to discuss relations between Washington and Saigon. Johnson reaffirmed his administration's commitment "to defend South Vietnam." Thieu stated that he had "no apprehensions at all" concerning the U.S. commitment. In a joint communique, Thieu further asserted that his government was determined "to continue to assume all the responsibility that the scale of forces of South Vietnam and their equipment will permit," thus tacitly accepting current U.S. efforts to "Vietnamize" the war. The two presidents also agreed that South Vietnam "should be a full participant playing a leading role in discussions concerning the substance of a final settlement" to the conflict. Johnson's successor, Richard Nixon, made "Vietnamization" one of the pillars of his Vietnam policy. Under the plan, he directed that the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces be improved so that they could ultimately assume full responsibility for the war and U.S. forces could be withdrawn. Jul 18, 1969: Incident on Chappaquiddick Island Shortly after leaving a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy of Massachusetts drives an Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge into a tide-swept pond. Kennedy escaped the submerged car, but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, did not. The senator did not report the fatal car accident for 10 hours. On the evening of July 18, 1969, while most Americans were home watching television reports on the progress of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, Kennedy and his cousin Joe Gargan were hosting a cookout and party at a rented cottage on Chappaquiddick Island, an affluent island near Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The party was planned as a reunion for Kopechne and five other women, all veterans of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. Bobby Kennedy was Ted Kennedy's older brother, and following Bobby's assassination in June 1968 Ted took up his family's political torch. In 1969, Ted Kennedy was elected majority whip in the U.S. Senate, and he seemed an early front-runner for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination. Just after 11 p.m., Kennedy left the party with Kopechne, by his account to drive to the ferry slip where they would catch a boat back to their respective lodgings in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. While driving down the main roadway, Kennedy took a sharp turn onto the unpaved Dike Road, drove for a short distance, and then missed the ramp to a narrow wooden bridge and drove into Poucha Pond. Kennedy, a married man, claimed the Dike Road excursion was a wrong turn. However, both he and Kopechne had previously driven down the same road, which led to a secluded ocean beach just beyond the bridge. In addition, Kopechne had left both her purse and room key at the party. Kennedy escaped the car and then dove down in an attempt to retrieve Kopechne from the sunken Oldsmobile. Failing, he stumbled back to the cottage, where he enlisted Gargan and another friend in a second attempt to save Kopechne. The three men were unsuccessful; her body was not recovered. The trio then went to the ferry slip, where Kennedy dove into the water and swam back to Edgartown, about a mile away. He returned to his room at the Shiretown Inn, changed his clothes, and at 2:25 a.m. stepped out of his room when he spotted the innkeeper, Russell Peachey. He told Peachey that he been awakened by noise next door and asked what time it was. He then returned to his room. Was Kennedy trying to establish an alibi? In Leo Damore's Senatorial Privilege--the Chappaquiddick Cover-up (1988), the author recounts an interview with Joe Gargan in which Gargan claimed that Kennedy had plotted to make Kopechne the driver and sole occupant of the automobile. Whatever Kennedy's intentions, on the morning of July 19 he went back to Chappaquiddick Island and then returned to Edgartown. At 9:45 a.m., 10 hours after driving off Dike Road bridge, Kennedy reported the accident to Edgartown Police Chief Dominick Arena and admitted that he was the driver. On July 25, Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, received a two-month suspended sentence, and had his license suspended for a year. That evening, in a televised statement, he called the delayed reporting of the accident "indefensible" but vehemently denied that he been involved in any improprieties with Kopechne. He also asked his constituents to help him decide whether to continue his political career. Receiving a positive response, he resumed his senatorial duties at the end of a month. There is speculation that he used his considerable influence to avoid more serious charges that could have resulted from the episode. Although the incident on Chappaquiddick Island helped to derail his presidential hopes, Kennedy continued to serve as a U.S. senator of Massachusetts into the 21st century. Jul 18, 1984: Twenty-one people are shot to death at McDonald's James Oliver Huberty opens fire in a crowded McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, California, killing 21 people and wounding 19 others with several automatic weapons. Minutes earlier, Huberty had left home, telling his wife, "I'm going hunting... hunting for humans." Huberty, who had a history of mental problems, lost his job in Ohio the previous year. He brought his family to San Diego and worked as a security guard until he was fired again, a month before the shootings. His wife claimed that Huberty called a mental health clinic to make an appointment for counseling but was never called back. Huberty had a love affair with guns, keeping a small arsenal in his bedroom. Neighbors described him as very angry. Bringing several of these guns, including a 9mm automatic pistol and semiautomatic rifle, into the McDonald's two miles from the Mexican border, Huberty demanded that the 45 patrons get on the floor. He then walked around the restaurant, calmly shooting people. He killed 20 in the first ten minutes, including four who tried to escape. There were so many shots fired that the police first assumed that there was more than one gunman inside. Firing at a fire truck that responded to the scene, Huberty also grazed one firefighter with a bullet. An hour after the shooting began, an employee managed to escape through the basement and inform the SWAT team that Huberty was alone and without hostages. With this information, sharpshooters were told to "take him out." A marksman sent a shot through Huberty's chest and killed him. After making sure that he was dead, police finally entered the restaurant. San Diego Police Chief William Kolender said, "I hope to God I never see such a thing again." Jul 18, 1986: Video of Titanic wreckage released On this day in 1986, new close-up videotapes of the sunken ocean liner Titanic are released to the public. Taken on the first manned expedition to the wreck, the videotapes are stunning in their clarity and detail, showing one of the ship's majestic grand staircases and a coral-covered chandelier swinging slowly in the ocean current. At the time of its launch, the RMS Titanic was the largest ocean liner ever built, measuring nearly 900 feet long and 150 feet from its water line to its highest beam. It was considered unsinkable owing both to its vast size and its special construction. On its maiden voyage, the Titanic carried more than 2,200 people, including several of the world's most rich and famous. Its collision with an iceberg and subsequent sinking in the icy waters of the North Atlantic resulted in the death of some 1,500 people, many of whom could have been saved if the ship had carried a sufficient number of lifeboats. It was not until 73 years later, in 1985, that the Titanic wreck was discovered. Marine geologist Robert Ballard, in conjunction with Jean-Louis Michel of the Institute of Research for the Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER), located the remains of the Titanic 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland, 13,000 feet down on the ocean floor. Ballard, who was from Massachusetts' Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, had the help of the U.S. Navy, which supplied him with Argo, a high resolution sonar device and submersible photographic sled. Ballard's discovery caused a great stir among the public, and touched off a new era in underwater exploration and scientific research, especially around the topic of the Titanic. The following year, Ballard returned to the wreck, this time to dive down to the bottom in a submersible craft called Alvin and acquire photo footage of the ghost ship. Ballard was accompanied by Ralph Hollis, the Alvin's pilot, and Mark Bowen, who piloted Jason, Jr., a robotic submarine, or "swimming eyeball," used to explore the interior of the liner. Two miles beneath the surface, the explorers found, frozen in time, trappings of life aboard the Titanic, including a wood-burning stove and unopened champagne bottles being readied for a toast. Jason, Jr. also found the ship's safes, but left them as they lay: It was decided that the Titanic expedition would leave the ship's debris undisturbed on the ocean floor. Even after several years of visiting the wreckage, not a trace of human remains has been found. Like other soft, degradable materials such as wood and carpet, human body parts were most likely scavenged by sea creatures not long after the ship's sinking. Jul 18, 1995: Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father" is published On this day in 1995, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” a memoir by a little-known law professor named Barack Obama, is published. Obama wrote the book before entering politics; 13 years after it was published, he was elected America’s 44th president. “Dreams from My Father” tells the story of Obama’s family—he was born in Hawaii in 1961 to a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya. The book is also, as Obama writes in the introduction, “a boy’s search for his father, and through that a search for a workable meaning for his life as a black American.” Obama describes his adolescence in Hawaii, where he was raised by his white grandparents; his post-college years as a community organizer in Chicago; and a visit he made to Kenya as a young man to meet his African relatives following the 1982 death of his father, who he had seen only once after his parent’s divorce when he was 2. After being elected the first black president of the influential Harvard Law Review in 1990 while in his second year of law school, Obama was contacted by a literary agent who eventually got him a reported $40,000 advance to write what became “Dreams from My Father.” When the book was published in 1995, Obama was a law professor at the University of Chicago and had not yet stepped into the national spotlight. The book received favorable reviews; however, it sold a modest 8,000 to 9,000 hardcover copies and went out of print within several years. The year after the book’s publication, Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate, his first foray into politics. In March 2004, he shot to national prominence by winning the U.S. Senate Democratic primary in Illinois. The publicity generated by his victory prompted a publisher to reissue “Dreams from My Father” in the summer of 2004. Boosted by his well-received keynote address at the Democratic National Convention that July, and his landslide election to the U.S. Senate in November of the same year, “Dreams of My Father” became a best-seller. Reviewers praised the book for its eloquence and candor. In October 2006, Obama, then a U.S. senator, published his second book, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming America.” Like his first book, “The Audacity of Hope” became a best-seller, and Obama drew crowds at book signings as speculation mounted over whether he would seek the presidency. In February 2007, Obama announced he would run for the White House. When asked about “Dreams from My Father” while on the campaign trail in 2008, he told The New York Times “he was not even thinking about political consequences when he wrote the memoir. In fact, he said, one editor warned him back then that his references to drug use could come back to haunt him—if he were ever nominated for the Supreme Court.” Jul 18, 1999: David Cone pitches perfect game On July 18, 1999, New York Yankee David Cone pitches the 16th perfect game in major league history and 14th in the modern era with a no-hit, no-walk victory over the Montreal Expos. David Cone had made his name as a pitcher with the New York Mets from 1987 to 1992. His best year was 1988, when he finished with 20 win to just three losses and a 2.22 ERA in 231 1/3 innings. Four years later, he was traded to Toronto, where he helped the Blue Jays win the World Series. During the off-season, he signed with the Kansas City Royals, with whom he cruised to a 16-5 record and a 2.94 ERA and won the American League Cy Young Award in the strike-shortened 1994 season. In 1995, the journeyman Cone again switched teams, this time joining the New York Yankees. He helped the Yankees to World Series wins in 1996 and 1998, cementing his status as a clutch big-game pitcher. In 1998, Cone won 20 games and lost just seven with a 3.55 ERA. The 1999 Yankees could not match the previous season’s heroics, but on July 18, Cone put on a show for the fans in Yankee Stadium. It was Yogi Berra Day, and Yankee great Don Larsen--who wowed fans with a perfect game in the 1956 World Series--was in the stands. Despite the 98-degree heat, Cone needed only 88 pitches, 68 of them strikes, to set down 27 Expos in a row. The speed of his fastball increased throughout the game, and his slider darted in and out of the strike zone, confounding the Expos. With two outs in the ninth inning, Expo shortstop Orlando Cabrera hit a pop-up that was easily caught by third baseman Scott Brosius for the last out. Cone dropped to his knees, dumbfounded, before being bear-hugged by his catcher, Joe Girardi, and carried off the field by his teammates. Cone hung on with the Yankees for two more seasons, helping them to two more World Series wins, in 1999 and 2000. Jul 18, 2008: The Dark Knight opens with highest-grossing weekend On this day in 2008, The Dark Knight, the fifth film in the big-screen Batman series, opens in theaters around the United States, six months after the death of one of its stars, Heath Ledger, who played the Joker. The Dark Knight beat out the previous record-holder, 2007’s Spider-Man 3, to score the then-highest-grossing opening weekend of any movie in history, raking in some $158 million. Ledger, who received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Brokeback Mountain (2005), died at age 28 from an accidental prescription-drug overdose on January 22, 2008. Heath Ledger was born April 4, 1979, in Perth, Australia, and as a teenager acted in Australian television shows and films. His first Hollywood hit was 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), which was followed by roles in such films as The Patriot (2000), Monster’s Ball (2000), A Knight’s Tale (2001), The Four Feathers (2002), Ned Kelly (2003) and The Brothers Grimm (2003). Ledger received numerous accolades, including a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in Brokeback Mountain, in which he played Wyoming ranch hand Ennis Del Mar, who has a homosexual affair with rodeo rider Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). Following the success of Brokeback Mountain, Ledger went on to play one of several incarnations of the music icon Bob Dylan in 2007’s I’m Not There. The Dark Knight, which (like its immediate predecessor, Batman Begins) was directed by Christopher Nolan and starred Christian Bale in the title role, was in post-production when Ledger was found dead at his New York City apartment. Intense media speculation followed his death, which was later ruled accidental. The Dark Knight marked Ledger’s first appearance as the Joker, Batman’s maniacal nemesis. Reviews of Ledger’s performance were almost universally excellent, and buzz began about a possible posthumous Oscar nomination. Jack Nicholson played the character in 1989’s Batman, the first installment in the modern film series, which starred Michael Keaton as the masked crime fighter. At the time of his death, Ledger was in the midst of filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which was co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam (Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). Shut down for two months, production on the film was finally completed when three other actors played variations on Ledger’s character. It was later reported that the three actors--Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell--would donate their pay from the film to Ledger’s young daughter, Matilda, who had not yet been included in her father’s will (which left his estate to his parents and sisters) at the time of his death. Matilda’s mother is the actress Michelle Williams, Ledger’s co-star in Brokeback Mountain and his fiancée from 2004 to 2007. In September 2008, Ledger’s father announced the family had decided to donate Heath’s entire estate to Matilda.