Today is Friday, Dec. 23, the 357th day of 2011. There are eight days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 23, 1941, during World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
On this date:
In 1783, George Washington resigned as commander in chief of the Continental Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Va.
In 1788, Maryland passed an act to cede an area "not exceeding ten miles square" for the seat of the national government; about 2/3 of the area became the District of Columbia.
In 1823, the poem "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" was published anonymously in the Troy (N.Y.) Sentinel; the verse, more popularly known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," was later attributed to Clement C. Moore.
In 1893, the Engelbert Humperdinck opera "Haensel und Gretel" was first performed, in Weimar, Germany.
In 1928, the National Broadcasting Company set up a permanent, coast-to-coast network.
In 1948, former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo.
In 1968, 82 crew members of the U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo were released by North Korea, 11 months after they had been captured.
In 1975, Richard S. Welch, the Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Athens, was shot and killed outside his home by the militant group November 17.
In 1986, the experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, non-refueled round-the-world flight as it returned safely to Edwards Air Force Base in California.
In 1991, fire destroyed a house in Corsicana, Texas, killing three young children; their father, Cameron Todd Willingham, was convicted of starting the blaze and was executed in 2004, although some experts raised questions about whether the fire had been deliberately set.
Ten years ago: Israel barred Yasser Arafat from making his annual Christmas Eve visit to Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus. Argentina's interim president, Adolfo Rodriguez Saa (sah), was inaugurated. Time magazine named New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani its Person of the Year for his steadfast response to the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Five years ago: The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment; Iran immediately rejected the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held the first Israeli-Palestinian summit in 22 months. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger broke his leg while skiing with his family in Sun Valley, Idaho.
One year ago: Mail bombs blamed on anarchists exploded at the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome, seriously wounding two people. Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ruled that former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was a resident of the city and therefore eligible to run for mayor.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Gerald S. O'Loughlin is 90. Actor Ronnie Schell is 80. Emperor Akihito of Japan is 78. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung is 76. Actor Frederic Forrest is 75. Actor James Stacy is 75. Rock musician Jorma Kaukonen is 71. Rock musician Ron Bushy is 70. Actor-comedian Harry Shearer is 68. Gen. Wesley K. Clark (ret.) is 67. Actress Susan Lucci is 65. Singer-musician Adrian Belew is 62. Rock musician Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) is 55. Actress Joan Severance is 53. Singer Terry Weeks is 48. Rock singer Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is 47. The first lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is 44. Rock musician Jamie Murphy is 36. Jazz musician Irvin Mayfield is 34. Actress Estella Warren is 33. Actress Anna Maria Perez de Tagle is 21.
Thought for Today: "Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money." _ Anonymous.
(Above Advance for Use Friday, Dec. 23)
Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.