Today is Saturday, Dec. 24, the 358th day of 2011. There are seven days left in the year. This is Christmas Eve.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 24, 1814, the War of 1812 officially ended as the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent.
On this date:
In 1524, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama _ who had discovered a sea route around Africa to India _ died in Cochin, India.
In 1809, legendary American frontiersman Christopher "Kit" Carson was born in Madison County, Ky.
In 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroying about 35,000 volumes.
In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tenn., called the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt.
In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe as part of Operation Overlord.
In 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the first opera written specifically for television, was first broadcast by NBC-TV.
In 1961, the Houston Oilers won the second American Football League Championship Game, defeating the San Diego Chargers, 10-3.
In 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast.
In 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds _ one second for each day of captivity. Karl Doenitz, the last leader of the Third Reich following the suicides of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, died in West Germany at age 89.
Ten years ago: Officials said President George W. Bush had created a formal line of succession at several key federal agencies in the event a Cabinet secretary were to be killed or incapacitated. A West Virginia woman kidnapped 16-month-old Jasmine Anderson from a Chicago bus station in order to pass the child off as her own; Sheila Matthews and Jasmine were found by FBI agents three days later in West Virginia. (Matthews was later sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.)
Five years ago: Ethiopia sent fighter jets into Somalia and bombed several towns in a dramatic attack on Somalia's powerful Islamic movement; Ethiopia's prime minister said his country had been "forced to enter a war." Broadcasting pioneer Frank Stanton, CBS president for 26 years, died in Boston at age 98.
One year ago: Pope Benedict XVI ushered in Christmas Eve with an evening Mass amid heightened security concerns following package bombings at two Rome embassies and Christmas Eve security breaches at the Vatican the previous two years. John Warhola (cq), the older brother who helped raise pop art icon Andy Warhol and later helped establish the Andy Warhol Museum, died in Pittsburgh at age 85.
Today's Birthdays: Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew is 91. Author Mary Higgins Clark is 84. Federal health administrator Anthony S. Fauci is 71. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 67. Rock singer-musician Lemmy (Motorhead) is 66. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is 65. Actor Grand L. Bush is 56. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 56. Actress Stephanie Hodge is 55. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (HAH'-mihd KAHR'-zeye), is 54. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 54. Actor Anil Kapoor is 52. Actor Wade Williams is 50. Designer Kate Spade is 49. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 48. Actor Mark Valley is 47. Actor Diedrich Bader is 45. Actor Amaury Nolasco is 41. Singer Ricky Martin is 40. Author Stephenie Meyer ("Twilight") is 38. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest is 37.
Thought for Today: "Christmas comes, but once a year is enough." _ American proverb.
(Above Advance for Use Saturday, Dec. 24)
Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.