Today in History

Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Dec. 25, the 359th day of 2014. There are six days left in the year. This is Christmas Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

In A.D. 336, the first known commemoration of Christmas on Dec. 25 took place in Rome.

On this date:

In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England.

In 1776, Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey.

In 1818, "Silent Night (Stille Nacht)" was publicly performed for the first time during the Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

In 1868, President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all persons involved in the Southern rebellion that resulted in the Civil War.

In 1926, Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito.

In 1931, New York's Metropolitan Opera broadcast an entire live opera over radio for the first time: "Hansel and Gretel" by Engelbert Humperdinck.

In 1941, during World War II, Japan announced the surrender of the British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong.

In 1961, Pope John XXIII formally announced the upcoming convocation of the Second Vatican Council, which opened in Oct. 1962.

In 1973, "The Sting," starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as a pair of 1930s grifters, was released by Universal Pictures.

In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu (chow-SHES'-koo) and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising. Former baseball manager Billy Martin died in a traffic accident near Binghamton, New York.

In 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on television to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.

In 2006, James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," died in Atlanta at age 73.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush urged Americans to help the neediest among them by volunteering to care for the sick, the elderly and the poor in a Christmas Day call for compassion.

Five years ago: Passengers aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 foiled an attempt to blow up the plane as it was landing in Detroit by seizing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (OO'-mahr fah-ROOK' ahb-DOOL'-moo-TAH'-lahb), who tried to set off explosives in his underwear. (Abdulmutallab later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.) The Taliban released a video purporting to show Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who'd gone missing more than five months earlier in eastern Afghanistan. (Bergdahl was released in May 2014.) Korean-American missionary Robert Park was arrested by border guards after crossing into North Korea; he was released in Feb. 2010.

One year ago: Pope Francis offered Christmas wishes for a better world, praying for protection for Christians under attack, battered women and trafficked children, peace in the Middle East and Africa, and dignity for refugees fleeing misery and conflict around the globe. Egypt's military-backed interim government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Serena Williams was named The Associated Press' 2013 Female Athlete of the Year for the third time.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Dick Miller is 86. Author Anne Roiphe is 79. Actress Hanna Schygulla (SHEE'-goo-lah) is 71. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Edwards (The Spinners) is 70. Actor Gary Sandy is 69. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 68. Pro and College Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka is 68. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 66. Actress Sissy Spacek is 65. Former White House adviser Karl Rove is 64. Actress CCH Pounder is 62. Singer Annie Lennox is 60. Reggae singer-musician Robin Campbell (UB40) is 60. Country singer Steve Wariner is 60. Singer Shane MacGowan (The Pogues, The Popes) is 57. Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson is 56. The former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, is 56. Actress Klea Scott is 46. Rock musician Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) is 43. Singer Dido is 43. Rock singer Mac Powell (Third Day) is 42. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ryan Shaw is 34. Country singer Alecia Elliott is 32. Pop singers Lisa and Jess Origliasso (The Veronicas) are 30.

Thought for Today: "He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree." — Roy L. Smith, American clergyman (1887-1963).

(Above Advance for Use Thursday, Dec. 25)

Copyright 2014, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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