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Today in History - Dec. 24

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

Today’s Highlight in History:

One hundred years ago, on Dec. 24, 1906, Canadian physicist Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to transmit the human voice (his own) as well as music over radio, from Brant Rock, Mass. (The audience for this broadcast would have been ships’ radio-telegraph operators in the Atlantic Ocean.)

On this date:

In 1814, the War of 1812 officially ended as the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium.

In 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., destroying about 35,000 volumes.

In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tenn., called the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Aida” had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt, to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal.

In 1920, Enrico Caruso gave his last public performance, singing Jacques Halevy’s “La Juive” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

In 1943, President Roosevelt appointed General Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord.

In 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” the first opera written specifically for television, was first broadcast by NBC TV.

In 1968, the Apollo Eight astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve television broadcast.

In 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity.

In 1995, fire broke out at the Philadelphia Zoo, killing 23 rare gorillas, orangutans, gibbons and lemurs.

Ten years ago: The streets of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, turned violent as demonstrators traded blows with supporters of President Slobodan Milosevic and then were clubbed by riot police.

Five years ago: Officials said President Bush had created a formal line of succession at several key federal agencies in the event a Cabinet secretary were to be killed or incapacitated. A West Virginia woman kidnapped 16-month-old Jasmine Anderson from a Chicago bus station in order to pass the child off as her own; Sheila Matthews and Jasmine were found by FBI agents three days later in West Virginia. (Matthews was later sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.)

One year ago: Iraq’s governing Shiite coalition called on Iraqis to accept results showing the religious bloc leading in parliamentary elections and moved ahead with efforts to form a “national unity” government. Michael Vale, the actor best known for portraying sleepy-eyed Fred the Baker in Dunkin’ Donuts commercials, died in New York at age 83.

Today’s Birthdays: Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew is 86. Author Mary Higgins Clark is 79. Federal health administrator Anthony S. Fauci is 66. Recording company executive Mike Curb is

62. Rock singer-musician Lemmy (Motorhead) is 61. Actor Grand L. Bush is 51. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 51. Actress Stephanie Hodge is 50. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 49. Designer Kate Spade is 44. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 43. Actor Mark Valley is 42. Actor Diedrich Bader is 40. Singer Ricky Martin is 35. “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest is 32.

Thought for Today: “To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.” — E.B. White, American author and journalist (1899-1985).