Today is Sunday, Dec. 31, the 365th and final day of 2017.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 31, 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light by illuminating some 40 bulbs at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
On this date:
In 1775, during the Revolutionary War, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.
In 1857, Britain’s Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.
In 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife, Lucy, celebrated their silver anniversary a day after the actual date by repeating their wedding vows during a reception in the White House.
In 1904, New York’s Times Square saw its first New Year’s Eve celebration, with an estimated 200,000 people in attendance.
In 1946, President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
In 1951, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.
In 1969, Joseph A. Yablonski, an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of the United Mine Workers of America, was shot to death with his wife and daughter in their Clarksville, Pennsylvania, home by hit men acting at the orders of UMWA president Tony Boyle.
In 1972, Major League baseball player Roberto Clemente, 38, was killed when a plane he chartered and was traveling on to bring relief supplies to earthquake-devastated Nicaragua crashed shortly after takeoff from Puerto Rico.
In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year’s Eve performance in Dallas.
In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)
In 1987, Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH’-bay) was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s first executive president.
In 1997, Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado. Pianist Floyd Cramer died in Nashville at age 64.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush signed legislation to allow states and local governments to cut investment ties with Sudan because of the violence in Darfur. Sara Jane Moore, who took a shot at President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco in 1975, was paroled after 32 years behind bars.
Five years ago: Racing the clock, the White House reached a New Year’s Eve accord with Senate Republicans to block across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts in government programs due to take effect at midnight. Private recreational marijuana clubs opened in Colorado, less than a month after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a constitutional amendment allowing recreational pot use. Seven NFL coaches and five general managers were fired in a flurry of sackings the day after the regular season ended.
One year ago: Mariah Carey ushered in 2017 with a botched performance on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” on ABC; Carey blamed the show’s producers for technical difficulties, while Dick Clark Productions called Carey’s claims “absurd.” No. 1 Alabama beat No. 4 Washington 24-7 in the Peach Bowl while No. 3 Clemson crushed No. 2 Ohio State 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl, sending the two winning teams to the College Football Playoff championship game. Actor William Christopher, best known for playing Father Francis Mulcahy on the TV series “M.A.S.H.,” died in Pasadena, California, at age 84.
Today’s Birthdays: TV producer George Schlatter is 88. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 80. Actor Tim Considine (TV: “My Three Sons”) is 77. Actress Sarah Miles is 76. Rock musician Andy Summers is 75. Actor Sir Ben Kingsley is 74. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 73. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 71. Actor Tim Matheson is 70. Pop singer Burton Cummings is 70. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 69. Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) is 66. Actor James Remar is 64. Actress Bebe Neuwirth is 59. Actor Val Kilmer is 58. Singer Paul Westerberg is 58. Actor Don Diamont is 55. Rock musician Ric Ivanisevich (Oleander) is 55. Rock musician Scott Ian (Anthrax) is 54. Actress Gong Li is 52. Author Nicholas Sparks is 52. Actor Lance Reddick is 48. Pop singer Joe McIntyre is 45. Rock musician Mikko Siren (Apocalyptica) is 42. Business executive Donald Trump Jr. is 40. Rapper PSY (Park Jae-sang) is 40. Rock musician Bob Bryar is 38. Actor/singer Erich Bergen is 32. DJ/vocalist Drew Taggart (The Chainsmokers) is 28. Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas is 22.
Thought for Today: “Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.” — Brooks Atkinson, American drama critic (1894-1984).