There are seven days left in the year.
This is Christmas Eve.
Today's Highlight in History:
- On Dec. 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast that featured live images of Earth.
On this date:
- In 1524, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama — who had discovered a sea route around Africa to India — died in Cochin, India.
- 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.
- In 1908, citing morality concerns, New York Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. temporarily closed the city's movie theaters. (The action gave rise to creation of a motion picture censorship board.)
- In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gen. 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 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 1993, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, who blended Christian and psychiatric principles into a message of "positive thinking," died in Pawling, N.Y., at age 95.
Ten years ago:
- Ignoring NATO warnings, Serb tanks and troops struck an ethnic Albanian stronghold in Kosovo.
- Most of California's citrus crop was considered ruined after three straight nights of freezing cold.
Five years ago:
- A roadside bomb exploded north of Baghdad, killing three U.S. soldiers in the deadliest attack on Americans to that time following Saddam Hussein's capture.
- Talk show host David Letterman visited U.S. troops in Baghdad.
- Air France canceled several flights to the United States after U.S. officials passed on what were termed "credible" security threats.
One year ago:
- President Bush made Christmas Eve calls to 10 U.S. troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other spots around the world, thanking them for their sacrifice and wishing them a happy holiday.
- French news cameraman Gwen Le Gouil, abducted by Somali gunmen Dec. 16 outside the town of Bossaso, was released.
- Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew is 88.
- Author Mary Higgins Clark is 81.
- Federal health administrator Anthony S. Fauci is 68.
- Recording company executive Mike Curb is 64.
- Rock singer-musician Lemmy (Motorhead) is 63.
- Actor Grand L. Bush is 53.
- Actor Clarence Gilyard is 53.
- Actress Stephanie Hodge is 52.
- The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is 51.
- Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 51.
- Designer Kate Spade is 46.
- Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 45.
- Actor Mark Valley is 44.
- Actor Diedrich Bader is 42.
- Actor Amaury Nolasco is 38.
- Singer Ricky Martin is 37.
- "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest is 34.
Thought for Today:
"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."
The Rev. Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993).
"Let's all be careful out there!"