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Almanac

By The Associated Press

Today in History

Today is Saturday, Dec. 24, the 359th day of 2016. There are seven days left in the year. This is Christmas Eve; the Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, begins at sunset.

Today’s Highlight in History:

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, Massachusetts.

On this date:

In 1814, the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812 following ratification by both the British Parliament and the U.S. Senate.

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, Tennessee, that was the original version of the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Aida” had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt.

In 1914, during World War I, impromptu Christmas truces began to take hold along parts of the Western Front between British and German soldiers.

In 1939, Pope Pius XII delivered a Christmas Eve address in which he offered a five-point program for peace and denounced “premeditated aggressions.”

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe as part of Operation Overlord.

In 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast.

In 1974, Cyclone Tracy began battering the Australian city of Darwin, resulting in widespread damage and causing some 65 deaths.

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: Ethiopia sent fighter jets into Somalia and bombed several towns in a dramatic attack on Somalia’s powerful Islamic movement; Ethiopia’s prime minister said his country had been “forced to enter a war.” Broadcasting pioneer Frank Stanton, CBS president for 26 years, died in Boston at age 98.

Thought for Today: “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” — The Rev. Norman Vincent Peale

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