Today in History - Dec. 26

AP News
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Posted: Dec 26, 2009 12:01 AM

Today is Saturday, Dec. 26th, the 360th day of 2009. There are 5 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, 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."

On this date:

In 1776, the British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.

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 1909, illustrator Frederic Remington died in Ridgefield, Conn., at age 48.

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 1941, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

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.

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, Mo., at age 88.

In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colo. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved, despite a widely publicized "confession" by John Mark Karr.)

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

Ten years ago: The crew of space shuttle Discovery packed up its tools and prepared to return home after an eight-day mission of repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope that NASA declared a success. Alfonso Portillo, a populist lawyer, scored a resounding victory in Guatemala's first peacetime presidential elections in nearly 40 years. Soul singer and songwriter Curtis Mayfield died in Roswell, Ga., at age 57.

Five years ago: More than 200,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean. An unmanned cargo ship docked at the international space station, ending a shortage that forced astronauts to ration supplies. Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts broke Dan Marino's single-season touchdown pass record when he threw his 48th and 49th of the season against San Diego. (The Colts defeated San Diego in overtime, 34-31.) Reggie White, one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, died in North Carolina at age 43.

One year 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.)

Today's Birthdays: Actor Donald Moffat is 79. Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on "Sesame Street") is 76. R&B singer Abdul "Duke" Fakir (The Four Tops) is 74. Record producer Phil Spector is 70. "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh is 64. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 63. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 62. All-Star baseball player Chris Chambliss is 61. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 55. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 54. Humorist David Sedaris is 53. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 47. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 47. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 46. Actress Nadia Dajani is 44. Rock musician J is 42. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 42. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 40. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 39. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 38. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 30. Actress Eden Sher is 18. Actor Zach Mills is 14.

Thought for Today: "Christmas has come and gone, and I _ to speak selfishly _ am glad of it. The season always gives me the blues in spite of myself, though I manage to get a good deal of pleasure from thinking of the multitudes of happy kids in various parts of the world." _ Edwin Arlington Robinson, American poet (1869-1935).