Today is Wednesday, Dec. 26, the 361st day of 2012. 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, 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Mo., at age 88.
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 1862, 38 Santee Sioux Indians were hanged in Mankato, Minn., for their roles in an uprising that had claimed the lives of hundreds of white settlers. The Civil War Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, resulting in a Confederate victory, began in Mississippi.
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 1910, the London Palladium, Britain’s famous variety theater, first opened.
In 1941, during World War II, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.
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.
In 1966, Kwanzaa was first celebrated.
In 1980, Iranian television footage was broadcast in the United States, showing a dozen of the American hostages sending messages to their families.
In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colo. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved.)
In 2004, some 230,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a tsunami triggered by the world’s most powerful earthquake in 40 years beneath the Indian Ocean.
In 2006, former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 93.
Ten years ago: It was announced that West Virginia resident Jack Whittaker Jr. had won the $314.9 million Powerball lottery jackpot, at that time a record prize. Israeli soldiers killed seven Palestinians in West Bank raids and reimposed a curfew on Bethlehem after briefly withdrawing over Christmas.
Five years ago: Six people were found dead at a rural property east of Seattle; the property owners’ daughter and her boyfriend were arrested. (Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe face capital murder charges in the shootings of three generations of Anderson’s family.).
One year ago: Dr. Luis Bonilla, a heart surgeon from a Mayo Clinic in Florida flying across the northern corner of the state to retrieve a heart for transplant, was killed with two other people when their helicopter crashed. A missing 9-year-old Indiana girl, Aliahna Maroney-Lemmon, was found dead, and the family friend who’d been watching her was charged with murder. (Michael Plumadore, who confessed to fatally bludgeoning and dismembering Aliahna, was later sentenced to life in prison.) Drew Brees set the NFL record for yards passing in a season, breaking a mark that Dan Marino had held since 1984, and the New Orleans Saints clinched the NFC South title with a 45-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Today’s birthdays: Actor Donald Moffat is 82. Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on TV’s “Sesame Street”) is 79. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul “Duke” Fakir (The Four Tops) is 77. Record producer Phil Spector is 73. “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh is 67. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 66. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 65. Retired MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss is 64. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 58. Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 57. Humorist David Sedaris is 56. Musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) and Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) are 50. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 49. Actress Nadia Dajani is 47. Rock musician J and country singer Audrey Wiggins are 45. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 43. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 42. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 41. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 33. Actress Beth Behrs (TV: “2 Broke Girls”) is 27. Actress Eden Sher is 21. Actor Zach Mills is 17.
Thought for today: “The people can never understand why the President does not use his supposedly great power to make ‘em behave. Well all the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.” — President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972).