Independence Day, Lou Gehrig’s speech and the Freedom of Information Act

Today is Tuesday, July 4, the 185th day of 2017. There are 180 days left in the year. This is Independence Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

On this date:

In 1802, the United States Military Academy officially opened at West Point, New York.

In 1817, ground was broken for the Erie Canal in Rome, New York. The middle section of the waterway took three years to complete; the entire canal was finished in 1825.

In 1826, 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, former presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died.

In 1831, the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, died in New York City at age 73.

In 1872, the 30th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, was born in Plymouth, Vermont.

In 1917, during a ceremony in Paris honoring the French hero of the American Revolution, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Charles E. Stanton, an aide to Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, declared: "Lafayette, we are here!"

In 1939, Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees delivered his famous farewell speech in which he called himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

In 1942, Irving Berlin's musical revue "This Is the Army" opened at the Broadway Theater in New York.

In 1947, the small central California town of Hollister was overrun by thousands of motorcycling enthusiasts, dozens of whom ended up being arrested, most for drunkenness, in what came to be called the "Hollister Riot."

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act, which went into effect the following year.

In 1987, Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief known as the "Butcher of Lyon (lee-OHN')," was convicted by a French court of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison (he died in Sept. 1991).

In 1997, NASA's Pathfinder spacecraft landed on Mars, inaugurating a new era in the search for life on the red planet. CBS newsman Charles Kuralt died in New York at age 62.

Ten years ago: BBC reporter Alan Johnston, seized by the Army of Islam in the Gaza Strip the previous March, was released after 114 days in captivity. The head of the radical-held Red Mosque (Maulana Abdul Aziz) in Islamabad, Pakistan, was caught by security forces. (He was eventually released.) The Black Sea resort of Sochi was elected the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, taking the Winter Games to Russia for the first time. Bill Pinkney, the last survivor of the original members of the musical group The Drifters, died in Daytona Beach, Florida, at age 81.

Five years ago: Scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research in Geneva, where the world's biggest atom smasher is located, cheered the apparent end of a decades-long quest for a new subatomic particle called the Higgs boson, or "God particle." Three children drowned when a yacht carrying 27 people capsized in Long Island Sound off Oyster Bay, New York. Joey Chestnut won his sixth straight Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest at New York's Coney Island, downing 68 dogs and buns to tie his personal best.

One year ago: NASA received a radio signal from the solar-powered Juno spacecraft confirming that it was in orbit around the planet Jupiter after a trip of nearly five years and 1.8 billion miles. Joey Chestnut upset Matt Stonie to regain the championship title at the annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest at Nathan's Famous in Coney Island by downing 70 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, beating out Stonie by 17 dogs.

Thought for Today:

"If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence, it would have been worthwhile." – Samuel Eliot Morison, American historian (1887-1976).