Today is Friday, Dec. 23, the 357th day of 2005. There are eight days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 23, 1805, Joseph Smith Jr., principal founder of the Mormon religious movement, was born in Sharon, Vt.
On this date:
In 1783, George Washington resigned as commander in chief of the Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Va.
In 1823, the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore was published in the Troy (N.Y.) Sentinel.
In 1893, the Engelbert Humperdinck opera “Haensel und Gretel” was first performed, in Weimar, Germany.
In 1928, the National Broadcasting Company set up a permanent, coast-to-coast network.
In 1941, during World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
In 1948, former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo.
In 1968, 82 crew members of the U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo were released by North Korea, 11 months after they had been captured.
In 1980, a state funeral was held in Moscow for former Premier Alexei N. Kosygin, who had died Dec. 18 at age 76.
In 1986, the experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, non-refueled, round-the-world flight as it landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
In 1987, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, serving a life sentence for the attempted assassination of President Ford in 1975, escaped from the Alderson Federal Prison for Women in West Virginia. (She was recaptured two days later.)
Ten years ago: A fire in Dabwali, India, killed 540 people, including 170 children, during a year-end party being held near the children’s school. The charred bodies of 16 members of a doomsday cult, the Order of the Solar Temple, were found outside Grenoble, France (the same cult lost 53 members in 1994 in ritual killings in Switzerland and Canada).
Five years ago: Pro-democracy forces claimed a sweeping victory in Serbia’s parliamentary elections. Death claimed comedian Victor Borge in Greenwich, Conn., at age 91 and actor Billy Barty in Glendale, Calif., at age 76.
One year ago: Democrat Christine Gregoire won the Washington governor’s race by 130 votes out of 2.9 million ballots cast, according to final recount results announced from Seattle’s King County. Former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland pleaded guilty to a corruption charge (he was later sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison). Assailants claiming to be members of a revolutionary group opposed to the death penalty ambushed a bus in Honduras, killing 28 people, including six children. Two men were convicted in Houston for their role in a smuggling attempt that resulted in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants crammed in a tractor-trailer.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Gerald S. O’Loughlin is 84. Actor Ronnie Schell is 74. Emperor Akihito of Japan is 72. Actor Frederic Forrest is 69. Actor James Stacy is 69. Rock musician Jorma Kaukonen is 65. Rock musician Ron Bushy is 64. Actor-comedian Harry Shearer is 62. Actress Susan Lucci is 59. Singer-musician Adrian Belew is 56. Rock musician Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) is 49. Singer Terry Weeks is 42. Rock singer Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is 41. Actor Corey Haim is 34. Rock musician Jamie Murphy is 30. Actress Estella Warren is 27.
Thought for Today: “You can always spot a well-informed man — his views are the same as yours.” — Ilka Chase, author, actress and humorist (1905-1978).