Today is Sunday, Dec. 24, the 358th day of 2017. There are seven days left in the year. This is Christmas Eve.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 24, 1914, during World War I, impromptu Christmas truces began to take hold along parts of the Western Front between British and German soldiers.
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 1871, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Aida” had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt.
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 1939, Pope Pius XII delivered a Christmas Eve address in which he offered a five-point program for peace and denounced “premeditated aggressions.”
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 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast.
In 1974, Cyclone Tracy began battering the Australian city of Darwin, resulting in widespread damage and causing some 65 deaths.
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.
In 1995, fire broke out at the Philadelphia Zoo, killing 23 rare gorillas, orangutans, gibbons and lemurs.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush made Christmas Eve calls to 10 U.S. troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other spots around the world, thanking them for their sacrifice and wishing them a happy holiday. French news cameraman Gwen Le Gouil was released eight days after he had been abducted by Somali gunmen outside the town of Bossaso.
Five 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.
One year ago: President-elect Donald Trump said he would dissolve his charitable foundation before taking office to avoid conflicts of interest; the Democratic Party said that wasn’t enough and called for the billionaire businessman to put his assets in a blind trust. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused President Barack Obama of a “shameful ambush” at the United Nations and said he was looking forward to working with his “friend” Donald Trump; Netanyahu’s comments came a day after the U.S. broke with past practice and allowed the Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Today’s Birthdays: Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew is 99. Author Mary Higgins Clark is 90. Federal health official Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is 77. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 73. Actress Sharon Farrell is 71. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is 71. Actor Grand L. Bush is 62. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 62. Actress Stephanie Hodge is 61. The former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (HAH’-mihd KAHR’-zeye), is 60. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 60. Actor Anil Kapoor (ah-NEEL’ kuh-POOR’) is 58. Actress Eva Tamargo is 57. Actor Wade Williams is 56. Designer Kate Spade is 55. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 54. Actor Mark Valley is 53. Actor Diedrich Bader is 51. Actor Amaury Nolasco is 47. Singer Ricky Martin is 46. Author Stephenie Meyer is 44. TV personality Ryan Seacrest (TV: “Live With Kelly & Ryan”) is 43. Actor Michael Raymond-James is 40. Rock singer Louis Tomlinson (One Direction) is 26.
Thought for Today: “Christmas is the day that holds all time together.” — Alexander Smith, Scottish poet and essayist (1830-1867).