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Today in history: December 26

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Monday, Dec. 26, the 360th day of 2005. 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:
One year ago, on Dec. 26, 2004, more than 200,000 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.

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

In 1917, during World War I, the U.S. government took over operation of the nation’s railroads.

In 1941, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

In 1944, in the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division.

In 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Mo.

In 1975, the Soviet Union inaugurated the world’s first supersonic transport service with a flight of its Tupolev-144 airliner from Moscow to Alma-Ata.

In 1980, Iranian television footage was broadcast in the United States, showing a dozen of the American hostages sending messages to their families.

In 2003, an earthquake struck the historic Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 26,000 people.

Ten years ago: Israel turned dozens of West Bank villages over to the Palestinian Authority in a smooth transfer of power.

Five years ago: Michael McDermott, an employee at an Internet firm in Wakefield, Mass., 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, Conn., at age 78.

One year ago: An unmanned cargo ship docked at the international space station, ending a shortage that forced astronauts to ration supplies. Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts broke Dan Marino’s single-season touchdown pass record when he threw his 48th and 49th of the season against San Diego. (The Colts defeated San Diego in overtime, 34-31.) Reggie White, one of the greatest defensive players in National Football League history, died in North Carolina at age 43.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Richard Widmark is 91. Actor Donald Moffat is 75. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul “Duke” Fakir (The Four Tops) is 70. Record producer Phil Spector is 65. “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh is 60. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 59. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 58. Former baseball player Chris Chambliss is 57. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 43. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 43. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 42. Actress Nadia Dajani is 40. Rock musician J is 38. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 38. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 36. Actor Jared Leto is 34.

Thought for Today: “Christmas has come and gone, and I — to speak selfishly — am glad of it. The season always gives me the blues in spite of myself, though I manage to get a good deal of pleasure from thinking of the multitudes of happy kids in various parts of the world.” — Edwin Arlington Robinson, American poet (1869-1935).