Today in history: December 26


Today is Thursday, Dec. 26, the 360th day of 2019. There are five days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 26, 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved.)

On this date:

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 1893, Chinese leader Mao Zedong was born in Hunan province.

In 1917, during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation authorizing the government to take over operation of the nation’s railroads.

In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne (bas-TOHN’), 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 1947, heavy snow blanketed the Northeast, burying New York City under 26.4 inches of snow in 16 hours; the severe weather was blamed for some 80 deaths.

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 1994, French commandos stormed a hijacked Air France jetliner on the ground in Marseille, killing four Algerian hijackers and freeing 170 hostages.

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 2003, An earthquake struck the historic Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 26,000 people. Three snowboarders were killed in an avalanche in Provo Canyon, Utah.

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: A 23-year-old Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (OO’-mahr fah-ROOK’ ahb-DOOL’-moo-TAH’-lahb), who claimed to have ties to al-Qaida, was charged with trying to destroy a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day. Buddhist monks chanted on white-sanded beaches in Thailand and thousands prayed at mosques in Indonesia to mark the fifth anniversary of the Asian tsunami. Percy Sutton, the pioneering civil rights attorney who represented Malcolm X before launching successful careers as a political power broker and media mogul, died in New York at 89.

Five years 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.

One year ago: President Donald Trump made an unannounced trip to Iraq to meet with U.S. troops, landing at an airbase west of Baghdad after dark for a visit that lasted around three and a half hours. The Dow industrials posted their biggest-ever single-day point gain, surging more than 1,000 points higher; the market remained on track for its worst December since 1931. Serena Williams was voted The Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for the fifth time, capping a year in which she reached the finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open after a remarkable return to tennis. Japan announced that it was leaving the International Whaling Commission in order to resume commercial whale hunts for the first time in 30 years, but said it would no longer go to the Antarctic for annual killings that had been harshly criticized.

Today’s Birthdays: Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul “Duke” Fakir (The Four Tops) is 84. Record producer (and convicted murderer) Phil Spector is 80. “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh is 74. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 73. Funk musician George Porter Jr. (The Meters) is 72. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 72. Retired MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss is 71. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 645 Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 64. Humorist David Sedaris is 63. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 57. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 57. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 56. Actress Nadia Dajani is 54. Rock musician J is 52. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 52. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 51. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 49. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 48. Actress Kendra C. Johnson is 43. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 40. Actress Beth Behrs is 34. Actor Kit Harington is 33. Actress Eden Sher is 28. Pop singer Jade Thirlwall (Little Mix Actor) is 27. Actor Zach Mills is 24.

Thought for Today: “Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil. Our great hope lies in developing what is good.” — President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933).

The Associated Press.