Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Saturday, Dec. 26, the 360th day of 2015. 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, 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.”

On this date:

In 1865, James H. Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts, received a patent for “an improved coffee percolator.”

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 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 1975, the Soviet Union inaugurated the world’s first supersonic transport service with a flight of its Tupolev-144 airliner from Moscow to Alma-Ata (AHL’-muh AH’-tah).

In 1980, Iranian television footage was broadcast in the United States, showing a dozen of the American hostages sending messages to their families.

In 1985, Ford Motor Company began selling its Taurus and Sable sedans and station wagons.

In 1990, Nancy Cruzan, the young woman in an irreversible vegetative state whose case led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the right to die, died at a Missouri hospital.

In 2000, Michael McDermott, an employee at an Internet firm in Wakefield, Massachusetts, shot and killed seven co-workers. (McDermott was later convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.) Veteran stage and screen actor Jason Robards died in Bridgeport, Connecticut, at age 78.

In 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.

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

Ten years ago: Survivors wept and prayed beside mass graves and at beachside memorials in Indonesia, marking one year since earthquake-churned walls of water crashed ashore in a dozen nations, sweeping away hundreds of thousands of lives. “Monday Night Football” ended an unprecedented 36-year run on ABC-TV with a lackluster game, a 31-21 New England Patriots victory over the New York Jets. (The series switched to ESPN the following season.) Australia’s wealthiest man, media mogul Kerry Packer, died in Sydney at age 68.

Five years ago: A powerful East Coast blizzard stranded thousands of travelers and dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas. Salvador Jorge Blanco, 84, a former president of the Dominican Republic, died in Santo Domingo. Soul singer-songwriter Teena Marie, 54, died in Pasadena, California.

One year ago: Mourners gathered to mark the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Russia identified NATO as the nation’s No. 1 military threat under a new military doctrine signed by President Vladimir Putin. James B. Edwards, South Carolina’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction and later energy secretary for two years in the Reagan administration, died at age 87.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Donald Moffat is 85. Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on TV’s “Sesame Street”) is 82. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul “Duke” Fakir (The Four Tops) is 80. Record producer Phil Spector is 76. “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh is 70. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 69. Funk musician George Porter Jr. (The Meters) is 68. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 68. Retired MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss is 67. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 61. Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 60. Humorist David Sedaris is 59. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 53. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 53. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 52. Actress Nadia Dajani is 50. Rock musician J is 48. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 48. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 46. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 45. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 44. Actress Kendra C. Johnson (TV: “Love Thy Neighbor”) is 39. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 36. Actress Beth Behrs is 30. Actor Kit Harington (TV: “Game of Thrones”) is 29. Actress Eden Sher is 24. Pop singer Jade Thirlwall (Little Mix Actor) is 23. Actor Zach Mills is 20.

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