Today is Saturday, Dec. 23, the 357th day of 2017. There are eight days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 23, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson, on his way home from a visit to Australia and Southeast Asia, held an unprecedented meeting with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican; during the two-hour conference, Johnson asked the pope for help in bringing a peaceful end to the Vietnam War.
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 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 had been jailed for opposing the (First) World War.
In 1941, during World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
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 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 1997, a federal jury in Denver convicted Terry Nichols of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing, declining to find him guilty of murder. (Nichols was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.)
Ten years ago: The New England Patriots set an NFL record with their 15th regular-season win, the best start in league history, as they beat the Miami Dolphins 28-7. Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson died in Mississauga, Canada, at age 82. Choreographer Michael Kidd, 92, died in Los Angeles. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II launched her own special Royal Channel on YouTube.
Five years ago: President Barack Obama, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and other dignitaries attended a memorial service for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye at Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Jean Harris, the patrician girls’ school headmistress who spent 12 years in prison for the 1980 killing of her longtime lover, “Scarsdale Diet” doctor Herman Tarnower, died in New Haven, Connecticut, at age 89.
One year ago: The United States allowed the U.N. Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation” of international law; the decision to abstain from the council’s 14-0 vote was one of the biggest American rebukes of its longstanding ally in recent memory. Actress-writer Carrie Fisher was transported to a Los Angeles hospital after suffering a severe medical emergency on an international flight; she died four days later at age 60.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Ronnie Schell is 86. Emperor Akihito of Japan is 84. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung is 82. Actor Frederic Forrest is 81. Rock musician Jorma Kaukonen (YOR’-mah KOW’-kah-nen) is 77. Rock musician Ron Bushy is 76. Actor-comedian Harry Shearer is 74. U.S. Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark (ret.) is 73. Actress Susan Lucci is 71. Singer-musician Adrian Belew is 68. Rock musician Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) is 61. Actress Joan Severance is 59. Singer Terry Weeks is 54. Rock singer Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is 53. The former first lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is 50. Rock musician Jamie Murphy is 42. Jazz musician Irvin Mayfield is 40. Actress Estella Warren is 39. Actress Elvy Yost is 30. Actress Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (TAG’-lee) is 27. Actor Spencer Daniels is 25.
Thought for Today: “Only the thinking man lives his life, the thoughtless man’s life passes him by.” — Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Austrian writer (1830-1916).