Today in History

Published 12:01 am Friday, December 22, 2017

Today is Friday, Dec. 22, the 356th day of 2017. There are nine days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 22, 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, U.S. Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe rejected a German demand for surrender, writing “Nuts!” in his official reply.

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On this date:

In 1775, Esek Hopkins was appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy.

In 1894, French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggered worldwide charges of anti-Semitism. (Dreyfus was eventually vindicated.)

In 1910, a fire lasting more than 26 hours broke out at the Chicago Union Stock Yards; 21 firefighters were killed in the collapse of a burning building.

In 1917, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, who later became the first naturalized U.S. citizen to be canonized, died in Chicago at age 67.

In 1937, the first, center tube of the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New York City and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River was opened to traffic. (The second tube opened in 1945, the third in 1957.)

In 1940, author Nathanael West, 37, and his wife, Eileen McKenney, were killed in a car crash in El Centro, California, while en route to the funeral of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had died the day before.

In 1968, Julie Nixon married David Eisenhower in a private ceremony in New York.

In 1977, three dozen people were killed when a 250-foot-high grain elevator at the Continental Grain Company plant in Westwego, Louisiana, exploded.

In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu (chow-SHES’-koo), the last of Eastern Europe’s hard-line Communist rulers, was toppled from power in a popular uprising. Playwright Samuel Beckett died in Paris at age 83.

In 1991, the body of Marine Lt. Col. William R. Higgins, an American hostage slain by his terrorist captors, was recovered after it had been dumped along a highway in Lebanon.

In 2001, Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and fellow passengers. (Reid is serving a life sentence in federal prison.)

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law allowing gays for the first time in history to serve openly in America’s military, repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Ten years ago: A jury in Riverhead, New York, convicted John White, a black man, of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daniel Cicciaro (SIS’-ur-oh), a white teenager, during a confrontation outside White’s house. (The 17-year-old was shot in the face after he showed up with two carloads of friends to confront White’s son after a dispute at a party. White, who said the shooting was an accident, was later sentenced to two to four years in prison, but had his sentence commuted by New York Gov. David Paterson after five months.)

Five years ago: The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye was praised as a humble leader who embodied honor, dignity and duty during a public visitation at Hawaii’s state Capitol, five days after his death at age 88. Egypt’s Islamist-backed constitution received a “yes” majority in a final round of voting on a referendum that saw a low voter turnout. A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed nine people, including a provincial government official, at a political rally held by a party that had opposed the Taliban.

One year ago: President-elect Donald Trump named close adviser Kellyanne Conway as his White House counselor and former Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer as press secretary. The Syrian government took full control of the city of Aleppo for the first time in four years after the last opposition fighters and civilians were bused out of war-ravaged eastern districts, ending a brutal chapter in Syria’s civil war.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Hector Elizondo is 81. Country singer Red Steagall is 79. Former World Bank Group President Paul Wolfowitz is 74. Baseball Hall of Famer Steve Carlton is 73. Former ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer is 72. Rock singer-musician Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) is 69. Rock singer-musician Michael Bacon is 69. Baseball All-Star Steve Garvey is 69. Golfer Jan Stephenson is 66. Actress BernNadette Stanis is 64. Rapper Luther “Luke” Campbell is 57. Country singer-musician Chuck Mead is 57. Actor Ralph Fiennes (rayf fynz) is 55. Actress Lauralee Bell is 49. Country singer Lori McKenna is 49. Actress Dina Meyer is 49. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is 47. Actress Heather Donahue is 44. Actor Chris Carmack is 37. Actor Harry Ford is 35. Actor Greg Finley is 33. Actor Logan Huffman is 28. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jordin Sparks is 28. Pop singer Meghan Trainor is 24.