AP - 1 hour 20 minutes ago
Today is Thursday, Dec. 25, the 360th day of 2008. There are six days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
One Hundred and Ninety years ago, in 1818, "Silent Night," written by Franz Gruber and Father Joseph Mohr, was performed for the first time, at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.
On this date:
In 336, the first recorded celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25 took place in Rome.
In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England. [Marking the first step in a long struggle to civilization by the English. — Ed.]
In 1776, Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, N.J.
In 1926, Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito. (Hirohito was formally enthroned almost two years later.)
In 1941, during World War II, Japan announced the surrender of the British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong.
In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising. [Off w/ their heads! — Ed.]
In 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on television to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.
Ten years ago: British mogul Richard Branson, American millionaire Steve Fossett and Per Lindstrand of Sweden gave up their attempt to make the first non-stop, round-the-world balloon flight seven days into their journey, ditching off Hawaii.
Five years ago: Sixteen people were killed by mudslides that swept over campgrounds in California's San Bernardino Valley. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf survived a second assassination bid in 11 days, but 16 other people, including three suicide bombers, were killed. A plane crashed after taking off from Benin, killing at least 130 of the 161 people aboard. Europe's tiny Mars lander, the Beagle 2, was supposed to go into orbit around the Red Planet, but the craft was lost.
In 2006, James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," died of heart failure in Atlanta at age 73.
One year ago: A tiger at the San Francisco Zoo escaped her enclosure and killed a park visitor; two brothers also were mauled, but survived. Russia's military successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. A ruptured gasoline pipeline exploded near Nigeria's main city of Lagos, killing at least 40 people.
Thought for Today: "My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" — Bob Hope, American comedian (1903-2003).