• On Aug. 1, 1498, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sets foot on the South American mainland for the first time, at the Paria Peninsula in present-day Venezuela. Thinking it an island, he christened it Isla Santa and claimed it for Spain. Columbus, a deeply religious man, believed that Venezuela was the edge of the Garden of Eden.
• On Aug. 4, 1927, the Father of Country Music, Jimmie Rodgers, is recorded for the first time during the legendary Bristol Sessions. A talent scout had set up a makeshift recording studio in an empty warehouse in Bristol, Tennessee, and recorded numerous then unknown acts during the 12-day marathon.
• On Aug. 2, 1943, future President John F. Kennedy is serving as commander of a torpedo boat in the Solomon Islands when his ship is rammed at night by a Japanese destroyer, cutting it in two. Kennedy’s heroics led to the rescue of the survivors from an island six days later.
• On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law. Former President Harry Truman was enrolled as the first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card.
• On Aug. 5, 1957, “American Bandstand” goes national on television, hosted by 26-year-old Dick Clark. He pushed hard for a 3:30 p.m. time slot, when teenagers were out of school and most likely to watch.
• On Aug. 3, 1988, Soviet authorities free Mathias Rust, the daring young West German pilot who landed a rented Cessna on Moscow’s Red Square in 1987, from a labor camp as a goodwill gesture to the West.
• On July 31, 1990, Nolan Ryan wins the 300th game of his career. A believer that pitching power, as well as consistency and endurance, comes from the legs, not the arms, Ryan ran every day.
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