Today in History
Today is Saturday, Dec. 24, the 358th day of 2022. There are seven days left in the year. This is Christmas Eve.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast.
On this date:
In 1814, the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812 following ratification by both the British Parliament and the U.S. Senate.
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, Tennessee, that was the original version of the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1906, Canadian physicist Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to transmit the human voice (his own) as well as music over radio, from Brant Rock, Massachusetts.
In 1913, 73 people, most of them children, died in a crush of panic after a false cry of “Fire!” during a Christmas party for striking miners and their families at the Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan.
In 1914, during World War I, impromptu Christmas truces began to take hold along parts of the Western Front between British and German soldiers.
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 broadcast by NBC-TV.
In 1990, actor Tom Cruise married his “Days of Thunder” co-star, Nicole Kidman, during a private ceremony at a Colorado ski resort (the marriage ended in 2001).
In 1992, President Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five others in the Iran-Contra scandal.
In 2013, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II granted a posthumous pardon to code-breaker Alan Turing, who was convicted of homosexual behavior in the 1950s.
In 2020, Bethlehem ushered in Christmas Eve with a stream of joyous marching bands and the triumphant arrival of the top Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land, but few people were there to greet them as the pandemic and a strict lockdown dampened celebrations. Just a week before the deadline, Britain and the European Union struck a free-trade deal that would avert economic chaos on New Year’s and bring a measure of certainty for businesses after years of Brexit turmoil.
Ten years ago: An Afghan policewoman walked into a high-security compound in Kabul and killed an American contractor, the first such shooting by a woman in a spate of insider attacks by Afghans against their foreign allies. An ex-con gunned down two firefighters in Webster, New York, after luring them to his suburban Rochester neighborhood by setting a car and a house ablaze, then took shots at police and committed suicide as seven homes burned down. Death claimed actors Charles Durning, 89, and Jack Klugman, 90.
Five years ago: Peru’s president announced that he had granted a medical pardon to jailed former strongman Alberto Fujimori, 79, who had been serving a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses, corruption and the sanctioning of death squads. In Christmas eve remarks, Pope Francis likened the journey to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph to the migrations of millions of people today who are forced to leave homelands for a better life, or just to survive.
One year ago: Around the world, the surging coronavirus dampened Christmas Eve festivities for a second year, with travel plans disrupted and churches canceling or scaling back services. Airlines canceled hundreds of flights as the omicron variant jumbled schedules and drew down staffing levels at some carriers during the busy holiday travel season. Drummers and bagpipers marched through Bethlehem to smaller than usual crowds after new Israeli travel restrictions aimed at slowing the highly contagious omicron variant kept international tourists away. Pope Francis celebrated Christmas Eve Mass before an estimated 2,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica, going ahead with the service despite the resurgence in COVID-19 cases that had prompted a new vaccine mandate for Vatican employees.
Today’s Birthdays: Dr. Anthony Fauci is 82. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 78. Actor Sharon Farrell is 76. Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is 76. Actor Grand L. Bush is 67. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 67. Actor Stephanie Hodge is 66. The former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (HAH’-mihd KAHR’-zeye), is 65. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 65. Actor Anil Kapoor (ah-NEEL’ kuh-POOR’) is 63. Actor Eva Tamargo is 62. Actor Wade Williams is 61. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 59. Actor Mark Valley is 58. Actor Diedrich Bader is 56. Actor Amaury Nolasco is 52. Singer Ricky Martin is 51. Author Stephenie Meyer is 49. TV personality Ryan Seacrest (TV: “Live With Kelly & Ryan”) is 48. Actor Michael Raymond-James is 45. Actor Austin Stowell is 38. Actor Sofia Black-D’Elia is 31. Rock singer Louis Tomlinson (One Direction) is 31. NFL wide receiver Davante Adams is 30. Estonian tennis player Anett Kontaveit is 27.