Today in History

AP News
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Posted: Dec 31, 2016 12:01 AM

Today in History

Today is Saturday, Dec. 31, the 366th and final day of 2016.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 31, 1946, President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

On this date:

In 1775, during the Revolutionary War, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.

In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

In 1904, New York's Times Square saw its first New Year's Eve celebration, with an estimated 200,000 people in attendance.

In 1942, Frank Sinatra opened a singing engagement at New York's Paramount Theater.

In 1951, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.

In 1969, Joseph A. Yablonski, an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of the United Mine Workers of America, was shot to death with his wife and daughter in their Clarksville, Pennsylvania, home by hit men acting at the orders of UMWA president Tony Boyle.

In 1972, Major League baseball player Roberto Clemente, 38, was killed when a plane he'd chartered and was traveling on to bring relief supplies to earthquake-devastated Nicaragua crashed shortly after takeoff from Puerto Rico.

In 1978, Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, D.C., marking the end of diplomatic relations with the United States.

In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year's Eve performance in Dallas.

In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)

In 1991, representatives of the government of El Salvador and rebels reached agreement at the United Nations on a peace accord to end 12 years of civil war.

In 2001, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (joo-lee-AH'-nee) spent his final day in office praising police, firefighters, and other city employees in the wake of 9/11, and said he had no regrets about returning to private life.

Ten years ago: The death toll for Americans killed in the Iraq war reached 3,000. Hundreds of Iraqis flocked to the village of Ouja (OO'-juh) where Saddam Hussein was born to see the deposed leader buried in a religious compound 24 hours after his execution. Ordinary Americans paid their respects to former President Gerald R. Ford, walking slowly by his flag-covered casket in the U.S. Capitol.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama signed a wide-ranging defense bill into law despite having "serious reservations" about provisions that regulated the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists. A NASA GRAIL probe fired its engine and slipped into orbit around the moon in the first of two back-to-back arrivals over the New Year's weekend.

One year ago: Belgian authorities announced the arrest of a 10th person in connection with the Nov. 2015 bloodbath in Paris. A towering inferno engulfed a 63-story luxury hotel in Dubai as officials went ahead with a massive New Year's fireworks display (there were no serious injuries reported). Death claimed singer Natalie Cole at age 65; actor Wayne Rogers at age 82; and actress Beth Howland at age 74.

Today's Birthdays: TV producer George Schlatter is 87. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 79. Actor Tim Considine (TV: "My Three Sons") is 76. Actress Sarah Miles is 75. Rock musician Andy Summers is 74. Actor Sir Ben Kingsley is 73. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 72. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 70. Actor Tim Matheson is 69. Pop singer Burton Cummings is 69. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 68. Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) is 65. Actor James Remar is 63. Actress Bebe Neuwirth is 58. Actor Val Kilmer is 57. Singer Paul Westerberg is 57. Actor Don Diamont is 54. Rock musician Ric Ivanisevich (Oleander) is 54. Rock musician Scott Ian (Anthrax) is 53. Actress Gong Li is 51. Author Nicholas Sparks is 51. Actor Lance Reddick is 47. Pop singer Joe McIntyre is 44. Rock musician Mikko Siren (Apocalyptica) is 41. Rapper PSY (Park Jae-sang) is 39. Rock musician Bob Bryar is 37. Actor/singer Erich Bergen is 31. DJ/vocalist Drew Taggart (The Chainsmokers) is 27. Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas is 21.

Thought for Today: "In masks outrageous and austere/ The years go by in single file;/ But none has merited my fear,/ And none has quite escaped my smile." — Elinor Wylie, American author (1885-1928).