Today in History

Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 25, the 359th day of 2019. There are six days left in the year. This is Christmas Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 25, 2009, 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.)

On this date:

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

In 1776, Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey, during the American Revolutionary 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 1973, "The Sting," starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as a pair of 1930s grifters, was released by Universal Pictures.

In 1977, comedian Sir Charles Chaplin died in Switzerland at age 88.

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, 61, died in a traffic accident near Binghamton, New York.

In 1990, the World Wide Web, the system providing quick access to websites over the Internet, was born in Geneva, Switzerland, as computer scientists Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau (KAH'-yoh) created the world's first hyperlinked webpage.

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 1999, space shuttle Discovery's astronauts finished their repair job on the Hubble Space Telescope and released it back into orbit.

In 2003, sixteen people were killed by mudslides that swept over campgrounds in California's San Bernardino Valley. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (pur-VEHZ' moo-SHAH'-ruhv) survived a second assassination bid in 11 days, but 17 other people were killed.

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

Ten years ago: 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 February 2010.

Five years ago: The black comedy "The Interview" opened in 331 locations in the U.S., culminating in the truly unprecedented move by a major studio to release a film in theaters and on digital platforms simultaneously.

One year ago: In a Christmas Day appearance in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump issued a lengthy defense of his demand for a border wall; he said parts of the federal government would stay closed until Democrats agreed to put up more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter criminal elements. Pope Francis offered a Christmas wish for fraternity among people of different nations, cultures, faiths, races or ideas.

Today's Birthdays: Author Anne Roiphe is 84. Actress Hanna Schygulla (SHEE'-goo-lah) is 76. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Edwards (The Spinners) is 75. Actor Gary Sandy is 74. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 73. Pro and College Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka is 73. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 71. Actress Sissy Spacek is 70. Blues singer/guitarist Joe Louis Walker is 70. Former White House adviser Karl Rove is 69. Actress CCH Pounder is 67. Singer Annie Lennox is 65. Reggae singer-musician Robin Campbell (UB40) is 65. Country singer Steve Wariner is 65. Singer Shane MacGowan (The Pogues, The Popes) is 62. Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson is 61. The former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, is 61. Actress Klea Scott is 51. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is 48. Rock musician Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) is 48. Singer Dido is 48. Rock singer Mac Powell (Third Day) is 47. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ryan Shaw is 39. Country singer Alecia Elliott is 37. Pop singers Jess and Lisa Origliasso (The Veronicas) are 35. Actress Perdita Weeks is 34. Rock singer-musician Lukas Nelson (Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real) is 31.

Thought for Today: "One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly." — Andy Rooney, CBS News commentator (1919-2011).

Copyright 2019, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.