Today in History

Associated Press

Today is Friday, Dec. 26, the 360th day of 2014. There are five days left in the year. The seven-day African-American holiday Kwanzaa begins today. This is Boxing Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 26, 2004, more than 230,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a 100-foot-high tsunami triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean.

On this date:

In 1776, the British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.

In 1799, former President George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship as he defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia.

In 1914, actor Richard Widmark was born in Sunrise Township, Minnesota.

In 1933, Nissan Motor Co. was founded in Yokohama, Japan, as the Automobile Manufacturing Co.

In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division. Tennessee Williams' play "The Glass Menagerie" was first performed at the Civic Theatre in Chicago.

In 1966, Kwanzaa was first celebrated.

In 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Missouri, at age 88.

In 1974, comedian Jack Benny died in Los Angeles at age 80.

In 1994, French commandos stormed a hijacked Air France jetliner on the ground in Marseille, killing four Algerian hijackers and freeing 170 hostages.

In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved.)

In 2006, former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93.

Ten years ago: An unmanned Russian cargo ship docked at the international space station, ending a shortage that forced astronauts to ration supplies. Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts broke Dan Marino's single-season touchdown pass record when he threw his 48th and 49th of the season against San Diego. (The Colts defeated San Diego in overtime, 34-31.) Hall of Famer Reggie White, one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, died in North Carolina at age 43.

Five years ago: A 23-year-old Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (OO'-mahr fah-ROOK' ahb-DOOL'-moo-TAH'-lahb), who claimed to have ties to al-Qaida, was charged with trying to destroy a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day. Buddhist monks chanted on white-sanded beaches in Thailand and thousands prayed at mosques in Indonesia to mark the fifth anniversary of the Asian tsunami. Percy Sutton, the pioneering civil rights attorney who represented Malcolm X before launching successful careers as a political power broker and media mogul, died in New York at 89.

One year ago: Rounding out a tough and frustrating year, President Barack Obama signed a bipartisan budget deal easing spending cuts and a defense bill cracking down on sexual assault in the military. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid his respects at the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Japan's war dead in a move that drew sharp rebukes from China and South Korea, as well as disappointment from the United States. LeBron James of the Miami Heat was selected as The Associated Press' 2013 Male Athlete of the Year.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Donald Moffat is 84. Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on TV's "Sesame Street") is 81. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul "Duke" Fakir (The Four Tops) is 79. Record producer Phil Spector is 75. "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh is 69. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 68. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 67. Retired MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss is 66. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 60. Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 59. Humorist David Sedaris is 58. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 52. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 52. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 51. Actress Nadia Dajani is 49. Rock musician J is 47. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 47. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 45. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 44. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 43. Actress Kendra C. Johnson (TV: "Love Thy Neighbor") is 38. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 35. Actress Beth Behrs is 29. Actor Kit Harington (TV: "Game of Thrones") is 28. Actress Eden Sher is 23. Pop singer Jade Thirlwall (Little Mix Actor) is 22. Actor Zach Mills is 19.

Thought for Today: "Time is the longest distance between two places." — From "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams (1911-1983).

(Above Advance for Use Friday, Dec. 26)

Copyright 2014, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

View Comments (531)