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Today in History

December 17, 2018

Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 26, the 360th day of 2018. There are five days left in the year. The seven-day African-American holiday Kwanzaa begins today. This is Boxing Day.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 26, 2004, more than 230,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a 100-foot-high tsunami triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean.

On this date:

In 1799, former President George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship as he defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia.

In 1917, during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation authorizing the government to take over operation of the nation’s railroads.

In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division. Tennessee Williams’ play “The Glass Menagerie” was first performed at the Civic Theatre in Chicago.

In 1947, heavy snow blanketed the Northeast, burying New York City under 26.4 inches of snow in 16 hours; the severe weather was blamed for some 80 deaths.

In 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Missouri, at age 88.

In 1975, the Soviet Union inaugurated the world’s first supersonic transport service with a flight of its Tupolev-144 airliner from Moscow to Alma-Ata (AHL’-muh AH’-tah).

In 1980, Iranian television footage was broadcast in the United States, showing a dozen of the American hostages sending messages to their families.

In 1985, Ford Motor Company began selling its Taurus and Sable sedans and station wagons.

In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved.)

In 2003, An earthquake struck the historic Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 26,000 people. Three snowboarders were killed in an avalanche in Provo Canyon, Utah.

In 2006, former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93.

Ten years ago: Caroline Kennedy emerged from weeks of near-silence about her bid for a New York Senate seat; in an interview with The Associated Press and NY1 television, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy said she felt compelled to answer the call to service issued by her father a generation earlier. (Kennedy later dropped her bid; Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed by New York Gov. David Paterson.)

Five years ago: Rounding out a tough and frustrating year, President Barack Obama signed a bipartisan budget deal easing spending cuts and a defense bill cracking down on sexual assault in the military. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid his respects at the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Japan’s war dead in a move that drew sharp rebukes from China and South Korea, as well as disappointment from the United States. LeBron James of the Miami Heat was selected as The Associated Press’ 2013 Male Athlete of the Year.

One year ago: The snowfall total from a storm that began on Christmas Day reached 53 inches in Erie, Pennsylvania - the biggest-ever two-day total in the state’s history. The cities of New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia sued the Defense Department, charging that the military failed to properly use the national background check system for guns; the lawsuit said the failure to report criminal records of service members had allowed a former member of the Air Force to kill more than two dozen people at a Texas church in November. Voters in Liberia went to the polls for a runoff election that saw former soccer star George Weah elected as the African country’s new president.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Donald Moffat is 88. Actor Caroll Spinney (formerly Big Bird on TV’s “Sesame Street”) is 85. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul “Duke” Fakir (The Four Tops) is 83. Record producer (and convicted murderer) Phil Spector is 79. “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh is 73. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 72. Funk musician George Porter Jr. (The Meters) is 71. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 71. Retired MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss is 70. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 64. Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 63. Humorist David Sedaris is 62. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 56. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 56. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 55. Actress Nadia Dajani is 53. Rock musician J is 51. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 51. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 49. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 48. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 47. Actress Kendra C. Johnson is 42. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 39. Actress Beth Behrs is 33. Actor Kit Harington is 32. Actress Eden Sher is 27. Pop singer Jade Thirlwall (Little Mix Actor) is 26. Actor Zach Mills is 23.

Thought for Today: “Time is the longest distance between two places.” — From “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams (1911-1983).

(Above Advance for Use Wednesday, Dec. 26)

Copyright 2018, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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