Today in History
Today is Friday, Dec. 23, the 358th day of 2016. There are eight days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 23, 1941, during World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
On this date:
In 1788, Maryland passed an act to cede an area “not exceeding ten miles square” for the seat of the national government; about 2/3 of the area became the District of Columbia.
In 1823, the poem “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” was published in the Troy (New York) Sentinel; the verse, more popularly known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” was later attributed to Clement C. Moore.
In 1893, the Engelbert Humperdinck opera “Haensel und Gretel” was first performed in Weimar, Germany.
In 1913, the Federal Reserve System was created as President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act.
In 1928, the National Broadcasting Company set up a permanent, coast-to-coast network.
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt restored the civil rights of about 1,500 people who’d been jailed for opposing World War I.
In 1948, former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo.
In 1954, the first successful human kidney transplant took place at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston as a surgical team removed a kidney from 23-year-old Ronald Herrick and implanted it in Herrick’s twin brother, Richard.
In 1968, 82 crew members of the U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo were released by North Korea, 11 months after they had been captured.
In 1975, Richard S. Welch, the Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Athens, was shot and killed outside his home by the militant group November 17.
In 1986, the experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan (ruh-TAN’) and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, non-refueled round-the-world flight as it returned safely to Edwards Air Force Base in California.
In 1991, fire destroyed a house in Corsicana, Texas, killing three young children; their father, Cameron Todd Willingham, was convicted of starting the blaze and was executed in 2004, although some experts raised questions about whether the fire had been deliberately set.
Ten years ago: The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment; Iran immediately rejected the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (EH’-hood OHL’-murt) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (mahk-MOOD’ ah-BAHS’) held the first Israeli-Palestinian summit in 22 months. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger broke his leg while skiing with his family in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Five years ago: After days of stalemate and rancor, Congress approved a two-month renewal of payroll tax cuts for 160 million workers and unemployment benefits for millions; President Barack Obama immediately signed the bill into law. Two car bombers blew themselves up in Damascus outside the heavily guarded compounds of Syria’s intelligence agencies, killing at least 44 people and wounding dozens more in a brazen attack on the powerful security directorates.
One year ago: Protesters blocked access to a terminal and caused significant holiday traffic delays around Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after staging a Black Lives Matter rally that also briefly shut down part of the Mall of America; the demonstrations were organized to draw attention to the recent police shooting of a black man in Minneapolis. Peggy Say, 74, who spent nearly seven years on a tireless quest for the release of her brother, AP journalist Terry Anderson, and fellow hostages from kidnappers in Lebanon, died in Cookeville, Tennessee.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Ronnie Schell is 85. Emperor Akihito of Japan is 83. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung is 81. Actor Frederic Forrest is 80. Rock musician Jorma Kaukonen (YOR’-mah KOW’-kah-nen) is 76. Rock musician Ron Bushy is 75. Actor-comedian Harry Shearer is 73. U.S. Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark (ret.) is 72. Actress Susan Lucci is 70. Singer-musician Adrian Belew is 67. Rock musician Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) is 60. Actress Joan Severance is 58. Singer Terry Weeks is 53. Rock singer Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is 52. The former first lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is 49. Rock musician Jamie Murphy is 41. Jazz musician Irvin Mayfield is 39. Actress Estella Warren is 38. Actress Elvy Yost (TV: “The Catch”) is 29. Actress Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (TAG’-lee) is 26. Actor Spencer Daniels is 24.
Thought for Today: “Life began for me when I ceased to admire and began to remember.” — Willa Cather, American author (1873-1947).