Today in History

Today in History

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 24, the 358th day of 2019. There are seven days left in the year. This is Christmas Eve.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast.

On this date:

In 1809, legendary American frontiersman Christopher "Kit" Carson was born in Madison County, Kentucky.

In 1814, the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812 following ratification by both the British Parliament and the U.S. Senate.

In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, that was the original version of the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1913, 73 people, most of them children, died in a crush of panic after a false cry of "Fire!" during a Christmas party for striking miners and their families at the Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan.

In 1914, during World War I, impromptu Christmas truces began to take hold along parts of the Western Front between British and German soldiers.

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe as part of Operation Overlord.

In 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity.

In 1984, actor Peter Lawford, 61, died in Los Angeles.

In 1990, actor Tom Cruise married his "Days of Thunder" co-star, Nicole Kidman, during a private ceremony at a Colorado ski resort (the marriage ended in 2001).

In 1992, President Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five others in the Iran-Contra scandal.

In 1993, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, who blended Christian and psychiatric principles into a message of "positive thinking," died in Pawling, New York, at age 95.

In 1994, militants hijacked an Air France Airbus A-300 at the Algiers airport; three passengers were slain during the siege before all four hijackers were killed by French commandos in Marseille two days later.

Ten years ago: The Senate passed health care legislation, 60-39, in the chamber's first Christmas Eve vote since 1895. Sean Goldman, a 9-year-old boy at the center of a five-year custody battle on two continents, was finally turned over to his American father, David Goldman, in Brazil. A woman jumped barriers in St. Peter's Basilica and knocked down Pope Benedict XVI as he was walking down the main aisle to begin Christmas Eve Mass; the pope was unhurt.

Five years ago: Sony Pictures broadly released "The Interview" online — an unprecedented counterstroke against the hackers who'd spoiled the Christmas opening of the comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. A Jordanian pilot, Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, was captured by the Islamic State group after his warplane crashed in Syria; he was later killed. TCU's Gary Patterson was named The Associated Press college football coach of the year. Western Kentucky held on to defeat Central Michigan 49-48 in a wild inaugural Bahamas Bowl.

One year ago: An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; he was the second immigrant child to die in December while in the agency’s care. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump took Christmas Eve calls from children anxious to find out where Santa was on his gift-giving journey; Trump asked one 7-year-old girl if she still believed in Santa and added, “Because at 7, it’s marginal, right?” An hours-long coordinated attack on a public welfare building in the Afghan capital of Kabul left at least 40 people dead, as gunmen held out for eight hours against security forces. A federal judge ordered North Korea to pay more than $500 million in a wrongful death suit filed by the parents of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who died shortly after being released from that country.

Today's Birthdays: Author Mary Higgins Clark is 92. Federal health official Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is 79. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 75. Actress Sharon Farrell is 73. Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is 73. Actor Grand L. Bush is 64. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 64. Actress Stephanie Hodge is 63. The former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (HAH'-mihd KAHR'-zeye), is 62. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 62. Actor Anil Kapoor (ah-NEEL' kuh-POOR') is 60. Actress Eva Tamargo is 59. Actor Wade Williams is 58. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 56. Actor Mark Valley is 55. Actor Diedrich Bader is 53. Actor Amaury Nolasco is 49. Singer Ricky Martin is 48. Author Stephenie Meyer is 46. TV personality Ryan Seacrest (TV: "Live With Kelly & Ryan") is 45. Actor Michael Raymond-James is 42. Actor Austin Stowell is 35. Actress Sofia Black-D’Elia is 28. Rock singer Louis Tomlinson (One Direction) is 28.

Thought for Today: "Christmas comes, but once a year is enough." — American proverb.

Copyright 2019, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.