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Today in history: December 23

/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Dec. 23, the 358th day of 2004. There are eight days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:
On Dec. 23, 1823, the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore was published in the Troy (N.Y.) Sentinel.

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 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.)

In 1997, a jury in Denver convicted Terry Nichols of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing, declining to find him guilty of murder.

Ten years ago: Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-led government agreed to a weeklong truce beginning the next day as they worked on details of a four-month cease-fire. Baseball owners imposed a salary cap that was fiercely opposed by players.

Five years ago: President Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks, a black sailor court-martialed for mutiny during World War II when he and other sailors refused to load live ammunition following a deadly explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine near San Francisco that had claimed more than 300 lives. The Nasdaq composite index briefly crossed 4,000 and closed at a record high for the 58th time in 1999.

One year ago: The government announced the first suspected (later confirmed) case of mad cow disease in United States. A jury in Chesapeake, Va., sentenced teen sniper Lee Boyd Malvo to life in prison, sparing him the death penalty. A gas well accident in southwestern China killed 233 people. New York Gov. George Pataki posthumously pardoned comedian Lenny Bruce for his 1964 obscenity conviction.

Today’s birthdays: Actor Gerald S. O’Loughlin is 83. Actor Ronnie Schell is 73. Emperor Akihito of Japan is 71. Actor Frederic Forrest is 68. Actor James Stacy is 68. Rock musician Jorma Kaukonen is 64. R&B singer Eugene Record (The Chi-Lites) is 64. Rock musician Ron Bushy is 63. Actor-comedian Harry Shearer is 61. Actress Susan Lucci is 58. Singer-musician Adrian Belew is 55. Rock musician Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) is 46. Singer Terry Weeks is 41. Rock singer Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is 40. Actor Corey Haim is 33. Rock musician Jamie Murphy is 29. Actress Estella Warren is 26.

Quote of the day: "It ain’t no use putting up your umbrella till it rains." — Alice Caldwell Rice, American author (1870-1942).