Today in History – Monday, Dec. 26, 2016

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Today is Monday, Dec. 26, the 361st day of 2016. 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:

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On Dec. 26, 1941, during World War II, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. Churchill grimly warned that “many disappointments and unpleasant surprises await us,” but also expressed faith that “the British and American peoples will, for their own safety and for the good of all, walk together in majesty, in justice and in peace.”

On this date:

In 1776, British forces 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 1865, James H. Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts, received a patent for “an improved coffee percolator.”

In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship as he defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia.

In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division. Tennessee Williams’ play “The Glass Menagerie” was first performed at the Civic Theatre in Chicago.

In 1966, Kwanzaa was first celebrated.

In 1967, “Magical Mystery Tour,” the Beatles’ poorly received TV special, was broadcast (in black and white) on BBC1.

In 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Missouri, at age 88.

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

In 1990, Nancy Cruzan, the young woman in an irreversible vegetative state whose case led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the right to die, died at a Missouri hospital.

In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved.)

In 2004, more than 230,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a 100-foot-high tsunami triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean.

Ten years ago: Former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93. Iraq’s highest court rejected Saddam Hussein’s appeal of his conviction and death sentence and said the former president should be hanged within 30 days. (Saddam was executed on Dec. 30, 2006, Iraq time.) A gasoline pipeline ruptured by thieves exploded in Lagos (LAY’-gohs), Nigeria, killing at least 260 people.

Five years ago: A heart surgeon from a Mayo Clinic in Florida flying across the northern corner of the state to retrieve a heart for transplant was killed with two other people when their helicopter crashed. A missing 9-year-old Indiana girl, Aliahna Maroney-Lemmon, was found dead, and the family friend who’d been watching her was charged with murder. (Michael Plumadore, who confessed to fatally bludgeoning and dismembering Aliahna, was later sentenced to life in prison.) Drew Brees set the NFL record for yards passing in a season, breaking a mark that Dan Marino had held since 1984, and the New Orleans Saints clinched the NFC South title with a 45-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

One year ago: A new onslaught of tornadoes began erupting in the South; twisters ended up hitting parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Chicago police killed 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, a college student who an officer said was coming at him with a bat, and 55-year-old Bettie Jones, a neighbor who police said was shot accidentally. Basketball player Stephen Curry was named The Associated Press 2015 Male Athlete of the Year.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Donald Moffat is 86. Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on TV’s “Sesame Street”) is 83. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul “Duke” Fakir (The Four Tops) is 81. Record producer Phil Spector is 77. “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh is 71. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 70. Funk musician George Porter Jr. (The Meters) is 69. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 69. Retired MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss is 68. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 62. Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 61. Humorist David Sedaris is 60. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 54. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 54. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 53. Actress Nadia Dajani is 51. Rock musician J is 49. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 49. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 47. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 46. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 45. Actress Kendra C. Johnson is 40. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 37. Actress Beth Behrs is 31. Actor Kit Harington is 30. Actress Eden Sher is 25. Pop singer Jade Thirlwall (Little Mix Actor) is 24. Actor Zach Mills is 21.

Thought for Today: “The people can never understand why the President does not use his supposedly great power to make ’em behave. Well all the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.” — President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972).

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.