Today in History

AP News
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Posted: Dec 25, 2016 12:01 AM

Today in History

Today is Sunday, Dec. 25, the 360th day of 2016. There are six days left in the year. This is Christmas Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 25, 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on television to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.

On this date:

In A.D. 336, the first known commemoration of Christmas on Dec. 25 took place in Rome.

In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned King of England.

In 1776, Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey.

In 1818, "Silent Night (Stille Nacht)" was publicly performed for the first time during the Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

In 1926, Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito.

In 1931, New York's Metropolitan Opera broadcast an entire live opera over radio for the first time: "Hansel and Gretel" by Engelbert Humperdinck.

In 1941, during World War II, Japan announced the surrender of the British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong.

In 1946, comedian W.C. Fields died in Pasadena, California, at age 66.

In 1961, Pope John XXIII formally announced the upcoming convocation of the Second Vatican Council, which opened in Oct. 1962.

In 1977, comedian Sir Charles Chaplin died in Switzerland at age 88.

In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu (chow-SHES'-koo) and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising. Former baseball manager Billy Martin, 61, died in a traffic accident near Binghamton, New York.

In 1990, the World Wide Web was born in Geneva, Switzerland, as computer scientists Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau (KAH'-yoh) created the world's first hyperlinked webpage.

Ten years ago: James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," died in Atlanta at age 73. Pope Benedict XVI used his Christmas Day address to call for a peaceful resolution of conflicts worldwide and appeal for greater caring of the poor, the exploited and all who suffer.

Five years ago: Five members of a family — three children and their grandparents — died in a Christmas morning blaze in Stamford, Connecticut, that was blamed on burning embers in a trash can. A 56-year-old man dressed as Santa Claus shot and killed his estranged wife, their two teenage children and three other relatives at an apartment in Grapevine, Texas, before taking his own life. A suicide bombing of a Catholic church near Nigeria's capital left at least 44 people dead.

One year ago: President Barack Obama paid tribute to six U.S. service members killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan on Dec. 21 as he delivered a Christmas Day gesture of gratitude to U.S. troops at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay. Pope Francis, in his Christmas Day greeting from the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, encouraged U.N.-backed peace deals for Syria and Libya and praised those who welcomed migrants. Tennis star Serena Williams was named The Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for the fourth time. Science-fiction writer George Clayton Johnson, 86, died in Los Angeles.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Dick Miller is 88. Author Anne Roiphe is 81. Actress Hanna Schygulla (SHEE'-goo-lah) is 73. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Edwards (The Spinners) is 72. Actor Gary Sandy is 71. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 70. Pro and College Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka is 70. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 68. Actress Sissy Spacek is 67. Former White House adviser Karl Rove is 66. Actress CCH Pounder is 64. Singer Annie Lennox is 62. Reggae singer-musician Robin Campbell (UB40) is 62. Country singer Steve Wariner is 62. Singer Shane MacGowan (The Pogues, The Popes) is 59. Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson is 58. The former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, is 58. Actress Klea Scott is 48. Rock musician Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) is 45. Singer Dido is 45. Rock singer Mac Powell (Third Day) is 44. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ryan Shaw is 36. Country singer Alecia Elliott is 34. Pop singers Lisa and Jess Origliasso (The Veronicas) are 32.

Thought for Today: "My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" — Bob Hope (1903-2003).