Today in History

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Posted: Dec 26, 2011 12:01 AM
Today in History

Today is Monday, Dec. 26, the 360th day of 2011. 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, 1941, during World War II, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. Churchill grimly warned that "many disappointments and unpleasant surprises await us," but also expressed faith that "the British and American peoples will, for their own safety and for the good of all, walk together in majesty, in justice and in peace."

On this date:

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

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 1910, the London Palladium, Britain's famous variety theater, first opened.

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 1966, Kwanzaa was first celebrated.

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

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

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.)

In 2004, some 230,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a tsunami triggered by the world's most powerful earthquake in 40 years beneath the Indian Ocean.

Ten years ago: The Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera aired new videotaped excerpts of Osama bin Laden in which the al-Qaida leader condemned the United States as a nation that had committed crimes against millions of Afghans. Authorities put down an attempt by hundreds of Iraqi Kurds, Afghans, Iranians and other refugees from a Red Cross center in France to cross illegally into Britain through the Channel Tunnel. Actor Sir Nigel Hawthorne died in Hertfordshire, England, at age 72.

Five years ago: Former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 93. Iraq's highest court rejected Saddam Hussein's appeal of his conviction and death sentence and said the former president should be hanged within 30 days. (Saddam was executed on Dec. 30, 2006, Iraq time.)

One year ago: A powerful East Coast blizzard stranded thousands of travelers and dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas. Salvador Jorge Blanco, 84, a former president of the Dominican Republic, died in Santo Domingo. Soul singer-songwriter Teena Marie, 54, died in Pasadena, Calif.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Donald Moffat is 81. Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on TV's "Sesame Street") is 78. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul "Duke" Fakir (The Four Tops) is 76. Record producer Phil Spector is 72. "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh is 66. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 65. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 64. Retired MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss is 63. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 57. Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 56. Humorist David Sedaris is 55. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 49. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 49. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 48. Actress Nadia Dajani is 46. Rock musician J is 44. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 44. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 42. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 41. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 40. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 32. Actress Eden Sher is 20. Actor Zach Mills is 16.

Thought for Today: "Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil. Our great hope lies in developing what is good." _ President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933).

(Above Advance for Use Monday, Dec. 26)

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