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Daily Photo File: December 31

DECEMBER 31: A man leads his horse at Karachi Clifton Beach in Karachi, Pakistan.
Uploaded: Dec. 31, 2013


Movie Preview: Unbroken
Dec. 25, 2014
Director Angelina Jolie brings a harrowing tale of survival to the big screen in Unbroken, based on the inspirational true story of Louis Zamperini. Here’s a look at the Zamperini’s amazing life story and some early reviews of the film.
Unbroken tells the story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini, a record-setting runner and Olympic athlete who joined the U.S. Army Air Force to fight in WWII, where he was shot down over the Pacific and survived more than two years in the brutal conditions inside Japanese POW camps.
The new film is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 biography Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.” Pictured, Jolie with Zamperini earlier this year. Zamperini died on July 2 at age 97.
Jack O’Connell stars as Louis Zamperini
Domhnall Gleeson plays Russell Phillips, a pilot shot down along with Zamperini.
Finn Wittrock plays Francis McNamara, who was onboard the plane with Zamperini when it was shot down.
Garrett Hedlund plays fellow POW John Fitzgerald
Japanese music star Miyavi plays the notorious prison-camp commander Mutsuhito Watanabe. Watanabe’s cruelties to Allied POWs landed him on General Douglas MacArthur’s list of most-wanted war criminals.
TRACK STAR, WAR HERO: Born in 1917 in Olean, New York, Zamperini was pressed into track and field by his older brother to help keep him out of trouble, and he proved a gifted runner.
After the family moved to Torrance, Calif., he earned a scholarship to USC in 1934.
In 1936 Zamperini qualified for the Summer Olympics in Berlin. Though he came in eighth in the 5,000-meter run, his final lap performance caught the attention of Adolf Hitler, who requested to meet the young American runner. Hitler called Zamperini “the boy with the fast finish.”
After the Olympics Zamperini returned to USC and continued his running career, where he set a collegiate record in the one-mile run that stood for fifteen years and earned him the nickname “Torrance Tornado.”
After graduating from USC, Zamperini worked as a welder at Lockheed Aircraft.
Zamperini enlisted in the Army Air Force in September 1941.
In April 1943, the B-24 Liberator bomber he was flying in was severely damaged over the island of Nauru. Pictured, Zamperini examines a 20mm shell hole in the plane, named “Super Man.”
On May 27, 1943, Zamperini’s plane was shot down while conducting search-and-rescue operations. After surviving for 47 days on a raft, he was captured by the Japanese and spent the rest of the war enduring torture and privation at a series of notorious prison camps.
Zamperini (right) with Fred Garrett upon their release in 1945.
Zamperini with wife Cynthia Applewhite in 1946. The two remained married until her death in 2001.
Zamperini would struggle with PTSD and alcoholism after the war, ultimately finding peace thanks to a religious awakening inspired by the reverend Billy Graham. He went to work as an inspirational speaker on the subject of forgiveness and even travelled to Japan to meet some of his former captors.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT: Reviews for Unbroken have been somewhat mixed, with some taking Jolie to task for making short work of Zamperini’s post-war years, while many offered praise for the performance of star Jack O’Connell. Here’s a sampling.
Kenneth Turan, LA Times: “Unbroken also has the advantage of having a terrific young actor, Britain's Jack O'Connell to play Zamperini. Gifted with emotions but also possessed of a cocky physicality, O'Connell has something of the air of Jimmy Cagney about him as he portrays a man who lives by the code that "if you can take it, you can make it."
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: “Unbroken is beautifully crafted even in its brutality. ... Jolie has an army of craftsmen in her corner, notably camera poet Roger Deakins. But it's her vision that gives Unbroken a spirit that soars. In honoring Louis' endurance, she does herself proud.”
Todd McCarthy, THR: “Despite the apparent hopelessness of their situation, Louie's survivor's spirit emerges unmistakably here, a tenacious bond with life he won't easily relinquish. Phil has religion to get him through, Louie merely the memory of his brother's corny slogan, "A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory."
Justin Chang, Variety: “In re-creating the nightmarish journey so harrowingly relayed in Laura Hillenbrand’s biography, Jolie has achieved something by turns eminently respectable and respectful to a fault, maintaining an intimate, character-driven focus that, despite the skill of the filmmaking and another superb lead performance from Jack O’Connell, never fully roars to dramatic life.”
Manhole Dargis, NY Times: “Ms. Jolie’s tendency to go David Lean with this material works against her in the camp sequences, because what you want to know isn’t what the prisoners looked like standing in formation in long shot but what they thought and did to survive. What the movie ends up in desperate need of is a sense of life made real and palpable through dreadful, transporting details.”
Amy Nicholson, Village Voice: “Jolie is more fixated on gore than grace. In making us feel every crushing blow -- the better to burnish her reputation as a serious director -- we're shortchanged on the beauty of Zamperini's story, and we exit blinking into the theater lobby with our hands still clenched in fists.”
Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post: “One can’t help but wish that Unbroken was a bit less reverent about its subject. ... Unbroken may not exactly be mired in sanctimony, but it’s standing, almost up to its ankles, in an unhealthy sense that its subject — about whose simple humanity the film otherwise goes to great lengths to illuminate — is a candidate for sainthood.”
The Meaning of Christmas
Dec. 25, 2014
National Review Online asked assorted friends and contributors for their thoughts on what is most important about Christmas. Here are selections from their answers, illustrated by NRO with representations of the Nativity and other Christmas imagery.
“Christmas shows us … that everyone’s life has great value in and of itself, totally apart from what the world thinks of him. God loves us in our littleness. Jesus set aside the glory of heaven and took on human weakness. … Each year Christmas reminds me that my weaknesses are unimportant in God’s eyes. I do not have to earn His love, only return it.” — James Sherk
“Sometimes we need reminders of how precious our loved ones really are, reminders that the people whose presence we take for granted should be looked at through the eyes of gratitude for having made Christmas special for our entire lives. It might be cliché to say that the most important thing about Christmas is our connection with family and other loved ones.” — Tony Rossi, the Christophers
“Chesterton called it the “beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.” It’s the paradox that “a deity born like an outcast or even an outlaw” changed our “whole conception of law and its duties to the poor and outcast.” — Sheila Liagminas, author, Non-Negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture.
“He taught and showed that love is stronger than death, that evil can be vanquished, that humility, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, service to others, and unshakeable faith in God constitute a force more powerful than any other, and leads to the greatest freedom and ultimate peace and happiness. That radical 'priest, prophet, and king' came, on Christmas Day.” — Sheila Liagminas
“The most important thing about Christmas is the message Pope Benedict expressed in his inauguration homily: 'We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.'” — James Sherk, Heritage Foundation.
“[Christmas] has significant meaning for me as I teach my kids that Jesus started out as a little baby in the womb and that his life was recognized from the moment of conception. It’s a beautiful occasion to acknowledge the great love God has shown for all of us by giving us his own son in the unassuming form of a tiny little baby.” — Kristan Hawkins, Students for Life of America.
“[C. S. Lewis wrote:] “The central miracle asserted by the Christian is the incarnation. They say that God became man. If the thing happened, it was the central event in the history of the earth, the very thing the whole story has been about.” — John Stonestreet, Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
“What are the most important things about Christmas? The trust and faith of a woman, a virgin, vulnerable. A man of integrity, standing by her side. A young family in need of help, receiving it. … A humble beginning to the beginning of redemption. …” — Michael Strain, AEI

“God humbled himself and became a baby. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth." The creation itself gives us every reason to believe in an intelligent life force, but since nature sheds no tears for human beings, we could not, until the birth of Jesus Christ, know that the brilliance of the Creator — is love.” — Kelly Monroe Xullberg, Veritas Forum
“You may go along with someone to a service this year … Don’t go looking to be entertained by the music or stirred by the message. Those things may happen, but that is not the point. … The church is about the children relating to the father, but it is also about the brothers and the sisters loving each other.” — Hunter Baker, Union University
“The most important thing about Christmas is that it invites us to reflect on the most important things in our life — our faith, our family, and our freedom. Our faith gives us hope, our family gives us love, and our freedom gives us the opportunity to practice our faith and to love each other — and of course the Holy Family.” — Lee Edwards, Heritage Foundation
“Whether one feels Advent in a religious sense or experiences Christmas as more of a cultural phenomenon, there is a tipping point in the season where one has to willingly surrender oneself to the joy of the season. … This is critical to the true point of Advent, which is the surrender to the joy of salvation through Jesus Christ.” — Ed Morrissey, Hot Air
Cartoon of the Day
Dec. 25, 2014
Santa, by Michael Ramirez (December 25, 2014)
A Car for Santa, by Henry Payne (December 24, 2014)
Keeping Us Down, by Michael Ramirez (December 23, 2014)
Next, by Michael Ramirez (December 22, 2014)
Canceled, by Henry Payne (December 20, 2014)
Broken, by Michael Ramirez (December 19, 2014)
Dynasty, by Henry Payne (December 18, 2014)
Iran Policy, by Michael Ramirez (December 17, 2014)
Mr. Gruber, by Michael Ramirez (December 16, 2014)
‘That’s Inhuman’, by Michael Ramirez (December 15, 2014)
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Torturing Truth, by Michael Ramirez (December 10, 2014)
N.Y.borough, by Michael Ramirez (December 9, 2014)
The GOP Response, by Michael Ramirez (December 8, 2014)
Santa’s New Ride, by Henry Payne (December 6, 2014)
Interstellar, by Michael Ramirez (December 5, 2014)
Divide & Conquer, by Michael Ramirez (December 4, 2014)
The Profiler, by Michael Ramirez (December 3, 2014)
National Guard, by Henry Payne (December 2, 2014)
Coast Is Clear, by Michael Ramirez (December 1, 2014)
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‘Canada. And Hurry!’ by Henry Payne (November 27, 2014)
Flames in Ferguson, by Henry Payne (November 26, 2014)
The Emperor’s Clothes, by Michael Ramirez (November 25, 2014)
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Emperor, by Michael Ramirez (November 21, 2014)
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Gruber at the Wheel, by Michael Ramirez (November 19, 2014)
Speaking of Illegal, by Michael Ramirez (November 18, 2014)
King of Denial, by Michael Ramirez (November 17, 2014)
J. Gruber Sales, by Henry Payne (November 15, 2014)
Welcome Mat, by Michael Ramirez (November 14, 2014)
Let’s Work Together, by Michael Ramirez (November 12, 2014)
Thank You, by Michael Ramirez (November 11, 2014)
I Wrote Me a Letter, by Michael Ramirez (November 10, 2014)
Endangered Species, by Henry Payne (November 8, 2014)
So Lame, by Michael Ramirez (November 7, 2014)
The Wave, by Michael Ramirez (November 6, 2014)
Time for a Shower, by Henry Payne (November 5, 2014)
Coyote Ugly, by Michael Ramirez (November 4, 2014)
Halloween Is Over, by Michael Ramirez (November 3, 2014)
Fiction Bestsellers, by Henry Payne (November 1, 2014)
Frankenstein’s Monster, by Michael Ramirez (October 31, 2014)
Did You Vote for Obama? by Michael Ramirez (October 30, 2014)
What Difference Does It Make? by Michael Ramirez (October 29, 2014)
New York, New York, by Michael Ramirez (October 28, 2014)
Tattoo Removal, by Michael Ramirez (October 27, 2014)
Screening for Ebola, by Henry Payne (October 25, 2014)
Canada, by Michael Ramirez (October 24, 2014)
Love Story, by Michael Ramirez (October 23, 2014)
The Obama Iran Policy, by Michael Ramirez (October 22, 2014)
Action on Ebola, by Henry Payne (October 21, 2014)
The Obama Warning System, by Michael Ramirez (October 20, 2014)
Ebola Gay, by Michael Ramirez (October 17, 2014)
Like Ostriches, by Michael Ramirez (October 16, 2014)
Dems 2014, by Henry Payne (October 15, 2014)
Back in Demand, by Michael Ramirez (October 14, 2014)
Porous Borders, by Michael Ramirez (October 13, 2014)
Protecting POTUS, by Michael Ramirez (October 10, 2014)
Got Yer Back, by Henry Payne (October 9, 2014)
Michelle’s Detector, by Henry Payne (October 8, 2014)
Under Control, by Michael Ramirez (October 7, 2014)
Footprints, by Michael Ramirez (October 3, 2014)
Hong Kong Café, by Henry Payne (October 2, 2014)
The Duck Stops Here, by Michael Ramirez (October 1, 2014)
Boots, by Michael Ramirez (September 30, 2014)
Holder Resigns, by Michael Ramirez (September 29, 2014)
Latte Salute, by Michael Ramirez (September 26, 2014)
Climate Summit, by Henry Payne (September 25, 2014)
Flood Wall Street, by Michael Ramirez (September 24, 2014)
The U.K., by Henry Payne (September 23, 2014)
The Hoax, by Michael Ramirez (September 22, 2014)
The Lap Dog, by Michael Ramirez (September 19, 2014)
The ISIS Strategy, by Michael Ramirez (September 18, 2014)
Space Taxi, by Henry Payne (September 17, 2014)
ISIS, by Michael Ramirez (September 16, 2014)
Apple Watch, by Henry Payne (September 15, 2014)
A Grave Threat, by Michael Ramirez (September 12, 2014)
Treating ISIS, by Michael Ramirez (September 11, 2014)
Ray Rice Penalties, by Michael Ramirez (September 10, 2014)
Rising Sun? by Michael Ramirez (September 9, 2014)
Daily Briefing, by Michael Ramirez (September 8, 2014)
iCloud, by Michael Ramirez (September 5, 2014)
Al Gore’s 2014 Prediction, by Henry Payne (September 4, 2014)
JV, by Michael Ramirez (September 3, 2014)
Happy Labor Day, by Michael Ramirez (September 1, 2014)
Going Solo, by Michael Ramirez (August 29, 2014)
Burger King Moves to Canada, by Henry Payne (August 28, 2014)
Regional Threat, by Michael Ramirez August 27, 2014)
Ferguson, by Michael Ramirez August 26, 2014)
My Thoughts Are with You, by Michael Ramirez August 25, 2014)
Investigating Abuse, by Henry Payne (August 22, 2014)
JV . . . by Michael Ramirez August 21, 2014)
Urgent Matters, by Michael Ramirez August 20, 2014)
Sectarian Tensions, by Henry Payne (August 19, 2014)
Between Iraq and a Hard Place, by Michael Ramirez (August 18, 2014)
Mind if I Play Through? by Michael Ramirez (August 15, 2014)
Fun • ny, by Henry Payne (August 14, 2014)
Tax Inversion, by Michael Ramirez (August 13, 2014)
Mission Iraq, by Henry Payne (August 12, 2014)
Trampled Under Foot, by Michael Ramirez (August 11, 2014)
Friendly Fire, by Michael Ramirez (August 8, 2014)
WHUAC, by Henry Payne (August 7, 2014)
Kerry, 1943, by Henry Payne (August 6, 2014)
What Cold War? by Michael Ramirez (August 5, 2014)
Regime Change, by Michael Ramirez (August 4, 2014)
Good News, by Michael Ramirez (August 1, 2014)
Incompetent, by Michael Ramirez (July 31, 2014)
Little Dutch Boy, by Michael Ramirez (July 30, 2014)
Perch, by Henry Payne (July 29, 2014)
Human Shields, by Michael Ramirez (July 28, 2014)
Putin’s Reset, by Michael Ramirez (July 25, 2014)
Presidents During a Crisis, by Michael Ramirez (July 24, 2014)
Wide Open, by Michael Ramirez (July 23, 2014)
Transparent, by Michael Ramirez (July 22, 2014)
Out, by Henry Payne (July 21, 2014)
Why? by Michael Ramirez (July 18, 2014)
LeBron, by Henry Payne (July 17, 2014)
Ha-Mas, by Michael Ramirez (July 16, 2014)
The Pawn, by Michael Ramirez (July 15, 2014)
Tear Down This Wall, by Michael Ramirez (July 14, 2014)
Obama’s Katrina, by Michael Ramirez (July 11, 2014)
Before and After, by Michael Ramirez (July 9, 2014)
I Don’t Know Why They’re Flooding the Borders, by Michael Ramirez (July 8, 2014)
Equal Justice, by Henry Payne (July 7, 2014)
The Times, July 4, 1776, by Henry Payne (July 4, 2014)
Happy Birthday, America, by Michael Ramirez (July 3, 2014)
Help Center, by Michael Ramirez (July 2, 2014)
5-4, by Henry Payne (July 1, 2014)
Rip Van Media, by Michael Ramirez (June 30, 2014)
The Piñata, by Michael Ramirez (June 27, 2014)
The Plan, by Michael Ramirez (June 26, 2014)
Red . . . by Henry Payne (June 24, 2014)
Iran to the Rescue, by Michael Ramirez (June 23, 2014)
White House to the Rescue, by Michael Ramirez (June 20, 2014)
Gap, by Henry Payne (June 19, 2014)
Baghdad Bobama, by Michael Ramirez (June 18, 2014)
Missing, by Michael Ramirez (June 17, 2014)
Dead Broke, by Michael Ramirez (June 14, 2014)
Clinton Problems, by Michael Ramirez (June 13, 2014)
To Faithfully Execute . . . by Michael Ramirez (June 12, 2014)
Broke, by Michael Ramirez (June 11, 2014)
Talking Bergdahl, by Michael Ramirez (June 10, 2014)
Lemon, by Henry Payne (June 9, 2014)
The Imperial President, by Michael Ramirez (June 6, 2014)
Cutting Carbon, by Henry Payne (June 5, 2014)
The Obama Emporium, by Michael Ramirez (June 4, 2014)
After You, by Michael Ramirez (June 3, 2014)
It Was the Weather, by Michael Ramirez (June 2, 2014)
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Dec. 25, 2014
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SR-71 Blackbird
Dec. 23, 2014
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the SR-71 Blackbird, the Air Force’s sleek, high-flying Cold War reconnaissance workhorse that still holds several world air-speed records. Here’s a look back at the amazing aircraft.
Designed by aircraft legend Kelly Johnson at Lockheed’s “Skunk Works” facility in Burbank, Calif., the SR-71A Blackbird first took to the skies on December 22, 1964, at Palmdale after a seemingly impossible 20-month development process.
The Blackbird was the successor to the storied U-2 — also designed by Johnson — and like that aircraft used speed and altitude to evade enemy detection and missiles as it gathered vital reconnaissance. But the Blackbird would represent a giant leap forward in flight capability. Pictured, an SR-71 and U-2 in formation.
The SR-71 entered service with the 4200th (later redesignated the Ninth) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., in January 1966, and file its first mission on March 21, 1968.
A total of 32 Blackbirds were delivered to the Air Force, where they provided key reconnaissance on the Soviet Union and other threats on more than 3,500 missions over more than two decades in service. Twelve Blackbirds were lost to crashes and other incidents over that time, but none to enemy action.
The Blackbird remains the world’s fastest and highest-flying manned aircraft ever produced. On July 28, 1976, it set world records for speed (2,193 miles per hour) and altitude (85,068 feet).
The Air Force retired the Blackbird from service in 1990 as satellites took over the day-to-day role of aerial reconnaissance. Most of the Blackbird inventory was decommissioned for display in museums, while several were donated to NASA and continue to fly at the agency’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California.
On its last flight in 1990, one of the retiring aircraft flew from Los Angeles to its new home at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., in just 67 minutes.
HIGH-FLYING TECH: The Blackbird’s futuristic look showcased the many innovations it brought to aircraft design, including a titanium airframe, new techniques for dissipating heat, contours and materials that represented the first radar-evading stealth technology, and engines capable of sustained speeds in excess of Mach 3.
The SR-71 debuted so many innovations that it seemed plucked from the future. Lockheed Martin’s history of the Blackbird quotes designer Kelly Johnson (pictured) observing: “Everything had to be invented. Everything.”
A key design challenge was safely dissipating the extremely high temperatures (more than 1,000 degrees) the aircraft would endure at high speeds as it generated friction with the air. This required the creation of innovative new materials and manufacturing processes, and also led to the plane signature black color scheme.
The Blackbird’s two Pratt & Whitney J58 engines, mounted mid-wing, were cable of 32,500 pounds of thrust each and could push the aircraft to more than Mach 3.0. Pictured, the distinctive “necklace” exhaust at afterburner.
As it approached top speeds, the Blackbird’s engine inlets changed their configuration, pushing most of the air past the engine’s compression chamber and directly into the ejection nozzles, in effect becoming ramjets.
The Blackbird flew so high and so fast that traditional rules of navigation — which followed rivers and roads — had to be rewritten to follow larger geographic features like mountain ranges and coastlines. The Blackbird could simply outrun any enemy missile that managed to lock on.
The pilot's view from 85,000 feet high.
Air Force Colonel Jim Wadkins was one of the lucky few to fly the Blackbird. Say Wadkins: “At 85,000 feet and Mach 3, it was almost a religious experience. Nothing had prepared me to fly that fast… My God, even now, I get goose bumps remembering.”
Blackbird pilots fly with completely self-contained flight suits akin to the worn by astronauts.
A close-up view of a pilot in the Blackbird cockpit.
A pilot settles into the main cockpit of a two-seat trainer variant.
The aircraft’s massive range of more than 2,900 miles was accomplished by as many as six mid-air refueling maneuvers on each mission.
The view from inside an aerial refueling platform as the Blackbird approaches.
The Blackbird used a drag chute to slow to a stop after landing.
Several variants of the Blackbird on the tarmac, including the regular single-seat configuration and a two-seat trainer model (center).
Christmas Around the World
Dec. 23, 2014
'TIS THE SEASON: People the world over commemorate Christmas in a thousand different ways both religious and secular. Here’s a look at some seasonal Christmas scenes and celebrations taking place this year. Pictured, Choristers of the St. Paul's Cathedral Choir rehearse for their Christmas carol service in London, England.
Pakistan: A Pakistani Christian woman lights candles before a pre-Christmas Sunday service in Lahore.
The Sankta Lucia Festival of Light choir performs at York Minster in York, England. The Swedish tradition shares many similarities with the advent procession and symbolises the bringing of light into the dark winter months.
Indonesia: Worshippers pray during a Christmas service at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.
U.S.A.: Philadelphian Micheal Grant — also known as “Philly Jesus” — adjust Christmas ornaments at Rittenhouse Park in Philadelphia. Grant has spent the last eight months walking the streets of the city sharing the message of the Gospels.
Romania: A man lights candles at a church in Bucharest.
THE MAN IN THE SUIT: A young girl kisses Santa Claus at the Intercontinental Hotel of Beijing, China.
U.S.A.: President Barak Obama shakes hands with Santa Claus during the lighting of the National Christmas tree in Washington.
Poland: Santa Claus waves during a parade in Warsaw.
Australia: Santa cuddles a koala at the Cairns Tropical Zoo in Queensland.
U.S.A.: Assistant dive safety officer Mark Lane wears a Santa Claus costume as he dives in the Academy's Philippine Coral Reef tank in San Francisco.
Spain: A man dressed as Santa Claus poses for a photograph in Calle Preciados in Madrid.
Germany: A man dressed as Santa Claus poses on a ledge on the Kollhoff Tower at Potsdamer Platz square in Berlin.
China: Twenty people dressed as Father Christmas pile into a Dongfeng S30 car in Changsha, Hunan province.
Israel: A Palestinian man dressed as Santa distributes Christmas trees along the wall of the Old City in Jerusalem.
Brazil: Santa Claus rides a crowded subway train in Sao Paulo.
Scotland: Papa John collects donations on Buchanan Street in Glasgow.
Italy: Oarsmen dressed as Santa Claus paddle gondolas through Venice Lagoon.
Spain: Thousands of runners dressed in Santa outfits compete in the annual Carrera de Papa Noel (Santa Claus Run) in Madrid.
CHRISTMAS TREES: This year’s White House Christmas tree stands in the Blue Room. Reaching 18 feet high, the tree was grown at the Crystal Springs Tree Farm in Leighton, Pa. In all this year’s holiday presentations include 26 Christmas trees.
England: A Christmas tree stands outside 10 Downing Street in London.
Russia: A decorated Christmas tree stands in Moscow's Red Square.
Australia : A giant Christmas Tree made from LEGO stands at Pitt Street Mall in Sydney.
France: An inverted Christmas tree towers over customers at Galeries Lafayette in Paris.
Australia : A worker helps families choose their trees at the Sydney Christmas Tree Farm at Duffy's Forest in Sydney.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS: Christmas lights light up a yard in New Milton, Hampshire, England.
Brazil: The Batista do Meier Church choir performs during this year’s edition of Christmas Choir in Rio de Janeiro.
England : A young visitor enjoys the carousel at the Winter Wonderland Christmas Theme Park in London.
Australia : Visitors enjoy a display of more than one million LED lights in Canberra. The display was officially recorded as setting a Guinness World Record for largest LED image display.
Croatia: A woman and child enjoy the lights at a country house estate in Grabovnica.
Germany: Holiday shoppers pose in front of a light display in Berlin.
Russia: Attendees take in the giant 38 foot-tall Christmas ball in central Moscow.
England: Visitors take in illuminated displays at the Enchanted Christmas at the Forestry Commission's National Arboretum in Gloucestershire. Westonbirt's signature winter event features a one-mile stretch of lighted trees and interactive exhibits.
Colombia: Christmas decorations light up the Medellin river in Medellin.
France: Lights decorate a street in Strasbourg on the opening day of the Christmas market.
Brazil: Boats paddle towards an 85-meter tell tree in Rio de Janeiro. Considered the world’s tallest Christmas tree, it sports more than three million lightbulbs.
Spain: Lights tower over a busy section of the Gran Via in Madrid.
Sweden: Lighted moose statues stand in a line in Stockholm.
Mexico: Attendees mingle amid giant displays at “Luminasia in Monterrey.
Greece: Christmas lights line a road leading to Acropolis in Athens.
Croatia:Thousands of illuminated sky lanterns rise into the sky at the “Kapulica & Lanterns” event in Zagreb.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS: Members of the English National Ballets production of The Nutcracker perform at the Natural History Museum in London, England.
England : Boy choristers from Winchester Cathedral try out the ice.
Singapore: “Christmas troopers” walk along Boat Quay during the “Christmas by the River,” an annual ceremony featuring Christmas decorations and themed events and activities along Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, and Robertson Quay.
Austria: Visitors take in a display of Christmas ornaments at a market in Vienna.
England : Traders wear their Christmas jumpers on the opening night of the traditional Christmas market at the historic Roman Baths and Bath Abbey in Bath.
Peru: Inmates dressed as reindeer perform at Santa Monica female prison in Lima.
Scotland: Fairgoers enjoy the view on a star flyer ride at Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh.
Australia : Children inspect a Christmas window display at the David Jones store in Sydney.
U.S.A.: A New York City fire truck adorned with Christmas decorations makes its way down 5th Avenue in midtown.
ANIMAL KINGDOM: A Polar bear snacks on a Christmas tree adorned with fruit at the Hannover Zoo in Hannover, Germany.
Scotland: Tian Tian the giant panda inspects a tree-shaped panda cake t the Edinburgh Zoo.
England : Senior aquarist Charles-Edouard Fusari feeds a green sea turtle named Greedy Boris with sprouts at The Sea Life London Aquarium in London.
France: Santa Claus plays with a king penguin at the Marineland animal park in Antibes.
Japan: A sea lion balances a Christmas tree on his nose during a show at the Aqua Stadium aquarium in Tokyo.
Philippines: An orangutan hugs Manny Tangco during a Christmas Party at the Malabon Zoo.
Bolivia: An Aymara indigenous woman carries her pet to a Christmas costume contest for dogs in El Alto.
Scotland: Reindeer herder Zac Brown tends to the Cairgorm Herd The Cairngorms National Park. The herd rages on 2,500 hectares of hill ground.
Christmas in Wartime
Dec. 22, 2014
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce of 1914, a brief cease-fire that took place in the early months of WWI. Here’s a look back at the truce, plus some historic images showing how Americans in uniform have celebrated Christmas on the front lines through the years.
CHRISTMAS IN THE ‘GREAT WAR’: That cold winter in 1914, the fighting of what would become known as WWI had begun only five months earlier, and the horrible carnage of the long war had not yet taken hold. British, French, and German troops battled in the frigid trenches, while America had not yet entered the fight.
According to lore, troops at various places along the Western Front put down their arms on Christmas Day and emerged from their trenches to meet in the “no man’s land” between the trenches. Pictured, German soldiers of the 134th Saxon Regiment and British soldiers of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. (Imperial War Museum)
The soldiers exchanged gifts, staged a game of soccer, and sung a bilingual version of “Silent Night.” Others took time out for the grim task of retrieving bodies from the battlefield. Pictured, German and British soldiers at Ploegsteert Wood. (Getty Images)
Though official accounts of the truce did not come out until early January, the event quickly became well know, and the soccer ball and “Game of Truce” came to symbolize the shared humanity of the moment. (IWM)
Early artwork captured the moment. Pictured, Christmas Truce in the Trenches : Friend and Foe Join in a Hare Hunt by artist Gilbert Holliday (Getty Images)
The Christmas Day Truce of 1914, lithograph by Arthur C. Michael
Subsequent holidays during the war came and went without similar truces, partly due to official orders forbidding fraternization but also due to the enmity that would build up on both sides as the brutal toll of the fighting continued to mount. Pictured, British and German officers pose during the truce. (IWM)
The Christmas truce is commemorated each year in Britain, with special attention to this year’s centenary. Pictured, reenactors at a recent commemoration in Aldershot, England. (Getty)
The Football Remembers Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, England. (Getty)
The Christmas truce was also portrayed this year in a big-budget ad produced by the British supermarket chain Sainsbury (pictured).
AMERICA AT WAR: Here's a look at how American soldiers and Marines celebrated the Christmas seaon on the battlefield in the rear echelons, from WWI through Operation Enduring Freedom.
WORLD WAR I: Officers of the U.S. Army's 79th Division headquarters serve a Christmas meal to enlisted troops at Meuse, France, December 25, 1918. (US Army)
Christmas mail arrives in Bruvans, France, 1917. (US Army)
Cooks with Company C, Eighth Signal Battalion, prepare Christmas dinner at Mullernbach, Germany, 1918. (US Army)
German POWs enjoy a Christmas meal at Charente Inferieure, France, 198. (US Army)
President Woodrow Wilson receives Christmas tokens from French youths after visiting the 26th Division in Marne, France, December 25, 1918. (US Army)
Local children pose for a photograph in front of headqartera for the 79th Infantry Division in Meuse, France, Christmas day, 1918. (US Army)
WORLD WAR II: Sergeant Hiram Prouty, 175th Infantry, arrives dressed as Santa Claus on an M3 tank to greet British children at Perham Downs, England, December 5, 1942. (US Army)
Third Army Division soldiers gather around a miniature Christmas tree to open holiday packages in Pietramalera, Italy, December 16, 1943. (US Army)
Private Walter E. Prsybia, B Battery, 37th Field Artillery, Second Infantry Division, addresses Christmas cards to the folks back home from a location in Heckhalenfeld, Germany, November 30, 1944. (US Army)
Sergeant Joseph H. Kadiec carries a load of Christmas packages to nearby infantry soldiers in a crossroads town in Germany, November 14, 1944. (US Army)
Soldiers with a U.S. field artillery unit hold their Christmas packages in Germany, November 26, 1944. From left: Private First Class W. J. Kessler, Private First Class Proffitt, Private B. Narter, Corporal T.J. Banweski, and Private First Class J. Stoll. (US Army)
Private First Class Edmund Dill (left) shares a Christmas package from his wife with fellow soldiers Private First Class Carl Anker and Sergeant Ted Bailey somewhere in Europe, November 18, 1944. (US Army)
Private George E. Neidhardt, Ninth Army, opens a holiday package in the field in Germany, December 1944. (US Army)
Sergeant Edward F. Good feeds his buddy, Private First Class Lloyd Deming, at a field hospital in Mindoro, Philippines, December 25, 1944. (US Army)
Soldiers at Camp Wickham in Iceland belt out a holiday tune on Christmas Eve, 1942. (US Army)
Soldiers of Company B, Tenth Regiment — all Pennsylvania boys — sing Christmas carols at Camp Lee, Va., December 1941. (US Army)
The so-called “panzer Santa” rides a jeep full of soldiers’ supplies at Quartermaster Corps, Camp Lee, Va., December 1941. (US Army)
Two soldiers with the 175th Infantry hold a holiday message for Herr Hitler at Tidworth, England, December 5, 1942. (US Army)
KOREAN WAR: Member of Company B, Fourth Signal Battalion, Tenth Corps, prepare to decorate a Christmas tree at battalion headquarters, December 1951. (US Army)
A Korean soldier decorates a tree at Headquarters Company, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry, on Christmas Day, 1951. (US Army)
Soldiers of Company F, Ninth Infantry Regiment, Second Infantry Division enjoy Christmas dinner at company headquarters, 1951. (US Army)
VIETNAM WAR: Santa talks with wounded soldiers during the Bob Hope Christmas Show, December 1970. (US Army)
Specialist John W. Hawkings prepares his Santa Claus outfit prior to a party for American dependent Children in Bangkok, Thailand, December 23, 1969. (US Army)
Major Alessandro Di Taddeo, 550th Military Police Detachment, Eighth Special Forces, talks with a young boy during a Christmas party, January 5, 1971. (US Army)
Private First Class Glen Zachary, 19th Army Postal Unit, brings Christmas mail for processing at Yog Son, Korea, 1970. (US Army)
OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM: Marines with First Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, spread a little holiday cheer with a decorated vehicle at Camp Ramadi, December 24, 2008. (Photo: Sergeant Amanda Gauthier)
Paratroopers with Company D, First Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, ride their reindeer antler-equipped Humvee during a Christmas parade entry in Iskandariyah, Iraq, on Christmas Day, 2006. (Photo: US Army)
Sergeant Major Steven Hatton, First Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, Second Stryker Briagde Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, dresses as Santa Claus to visit fellow soldiers at Joint Security Station Mushada in Baghdad, Iraq on Christmas Day, 2008.
Sergeants Amy Trejal (left) and Stephanie Sarria, 25th Infantry Regiment, pose with Santa at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, December 25, 2008. (Photo: US Army)
Sergeant Anthony Ward, dressed as Santa, and First Lieutenant Philip Vrska, run in the 5K “Jingle” race at Camp Ramadi, Iraq, December 20, 2008. (Photo: Sergeant Emily Suhr)
Corporal Joshua Mendenhall, Transportation Security Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 2, First Marine Logistics Group, is pleased to receive a gift from Santa at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Christmas Day, 2008. (Photo: Corporal Jacob A. Singsong)
Army Sergeant First Class Jason Goble, Sergeant Jacob Long, and Specialist Angel River touch the American flag during their reenlistment oath taken aboard a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter near Joint Base Balad in Iraq on Christmas Day, 2008. (Photo: Staff Sergeant Lynette Olivares)
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brian Boase, Headquarters Company, Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, waves to Forward Operating Base Salerno in Afghanistan as he arrives on Christmas day 2012 dressed as Santa and bearing care packages. (Photo: Specialist Brian Smith-Dutton)
Royal Navy Petty Officer Richard Symonds scans the horizon from the door gunner position while delivering mail and presents to troops serving in Helmand Province on Christmas day, 2010. (Photo: US Army)
Air Force Senior Aorman Michael Lausier (in the Santa suit) stands with soldiers of the Kapisa Provincial Reconstruction Team, Task Force Lafayette, in Kapisa, Afghanistan, December 24, 2011. (Photo: Specialist Ken Scar)
Santa hands out gifts to soldiers with Fourth Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment Third Brigade Combat Team, Tenth Mountain Division, at Forward Operating Base Clark, Afghanistan, December 25, 2013. (Photo: Corporate Amber Stephens)
Marines with Third Battalion, Ninth Marines, Regimental Combat Team Seven receive gifts during a holiday raffle at Forward Operating Base Geronimo in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, December 25, 2012. (Photo: Sergeant John R. Rohrer)
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brian Bose, Headquarters Company, Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, in Santa outfit, poses with his UH-60 crew chief at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Afghanistan on Christmas Day 2012. (Photo: Specialist Brian Smith-Dutton)
Soldiers with the Third Brigade Combat Team, Tenth Mountain Vision, pose with Santa Claus at Forward Operating Base Clark in Afghanistan, Christmas Day, 2013. (Photo: Corporal Amber Stephens)
Marines with Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment pose at Forward Operating Base Now Zad in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Christmas Eve, 2012. (Photo: Corporal Alejandro Pena)
Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph P. Poe wears his “Gunner Clause” outfit as he greets Sergeants Hames Ellis and Vernon Corbett, First Battalion, Eighth Marines, at Musa Qal’eh, Afghanistan, Christmas Eve, TK. (Photo: USMC)
Marines with Third Battalion, Ninth Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7 pose during a holiday raffle at Forward Operating Base Geronimo in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, December 25, 2012. (Photo: Sergeant John R. Rohrer)
Soldiers with D Troop, Second Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment read Christmas letters sent by school children at Forward Operating Base Fenty in Afghanistan, December 13, 2012. (Photo: Sergent Duncan Brennan)
Marines with Regimental Combat Team 1 pass out personalized stockings stuffed with gifts during a Christmas party at Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, December 22, 2010. (Photo: USMC)
Soldiers with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan look out from the rear hatch as they deliver care packages and mail to troops in eastern Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, 2013. (Photo: US Army)
Chaplain Major Robert Allman, Headquarters Troop, Combined Task Force Dragoon, leads a Christmas service at Combat Outpost Shur Andam in Afghanistan, December 25, 2013. (Photo: Sergeant Joshua Edwards)
Today in History: The Night Before Christmas
Dec. 22, 2014
DECEMBER 23, 1823: The poem A Visit From St. Nicholas is published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel. The holiday tale begins with the well-known phrase “T’was the night before Christmas…,” and would go on to become a Christmas tradition around the world. In 1844, author Clement Clarke Moore acknowledges writing the poem.
1986: The experimental aircraft Voyager lands at Edwards Air Force Base, becoming the first to circumnavigate the globe on a single load of fuel. Piloted by aeronautical engineer and designer Dick Rutan — who would go on to design the SpaceShip One vehicle — and co-pilot Jeana Yeager, the carbon-fiber and paper craft took nine days to travel around the globe.
1972: Rookie Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris nabs a deflected pass just before it hits the ground and runs for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders. Franco’s catch becomes known as the “Immaculate Reception” and powers to the team to a playoff game victory. Though the Steelers lost to Miami the following week, they would soon become a dominant force in the NFL.
1888: Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh severs part of his left ear in an episode of depression following a confrontation with fellow artist Paul Gaugin. Renowned for the colors, brushwork, and contoured forms of his paintings, the act of self-mutiliation symbolized his reputation as the quintessential tortured artist.
1783: General George Washington resigns as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and retires to his home at Mount Vernon, Va., marking an important shift from a war for independence to a true revolution based on republican values. Washington is called back to serve the new nation five years later as its first president.
DECEMBER 22, 1944: German General Heinrich Luttwitz sends a written demand for surrender to Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe (pictured), who commanded a vastly outnumbered and surrounded U.S. 101st Airborne at Bastogne, Belgium. McCauliffe’s reply — “Nuts!” — demonstrated their resolve, and his men would hold held out until relief arrived from General George Patton.
1894: French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus is convicted of treason for passing military secrets to Germany. Publicity from anti-Semitic groups had whipped up initial support for the verdict, but as evidence exonerating Deyfus came to light, the “Dreyfus Affair” began to unwind. Novelist Émile Zola’s famous “J’accuse” letter later attacked the French government for its coverup of the mistaken conviction.
1864: Union General William Tecumseh Sherman breaks the silence that had accompanied his six-week campaign through Georgia, informing President Lincoln in a telegram of his latest conquest: “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”
DECEMBER 19, 1997: James Cameron’s romantic adventure Titanic premieres. Costing an estimated $200 million, the historic love story set aboard the ill-fated ocean liner touches a chord with audiences, who keep the film in theaters for months. The film wins eleven Academy Awards, including best picture, making Cameron the “king of the world.”
1998: The House of Representatives approves two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with lying under oath and obstructing justice, making him only the second president in history to be impeached. Clinton vows to serve out his second term, and on February 12, 1999, the Senate acquits him on both charges.
1984: British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese prime minister Zhao Ziyang sign an agreement to formally transfer control of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997, ending a century and a half of British rule. As part of the treaty, Hong Kong retains a 50-year extension of its capitalist economic system.
1776: Thomas Paine publishes the first part of The American Crisis, which begins with the famous words: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Written when the American Revolution was struggling after a series of defeats, Paine’s stirring words were an exhortation to struggle and victory, and were read aloud to the dispirited troops of the Continental Army.
DECEMBER 18, 1915: President Woodrow Wilson marries Edith Bolling Galt just nine months after their first meeting. When Wilson suffered a stroke four years later, Galt imposed a self-described “stewardship” of the Presidency, controlling access to Wilson and participating in some government decisions during his recovery.
1972: President Richard Nixon announces the start of a major bombing campaign against North Vienam after peace talks break down. The Linebacker II strikes — also called the “Christmas Bombings” — were the largest heavy-bomber raids since WWII, delivering 20,000 tons of ordnance. During more than 700 sorties, 26 aircraft were shot down, including 15 B-52 Stratofortresses.
1958: The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, later to become DARPA) launches SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment), the world’s first communication satellite and a test bed for the revolution in worldwide communications to come. SCORE made its public debut by broadcasting a Christmas message from President Dwight Eisenhower.
1878: John Kehoe, the last of the Molly Maguires, is executed in Pennsylvania, putting an end to the secret society of Irish-American workers accused of a series of terrorist attacks against the region’s coal industry. The Maguires claimed to be protecting Irish immigrant workers, but Kehoe’s execution would become known as the “Death of Molly-ism.”
DECEMBER 17, 1989: The Simpsons debuts on Fox and quickly establishes itself as an irreverent, catchphrase-generating pop-culture institution. Created by cartoonist Matt Groening, the show recently began its 26th season — as of 2009 the longest-running scripted primetime show in television history — and has earned more than 30 Emmys and a Peabody.
1969: Quirky ukelele player Tiny Tim (born Herbert Khaury) marries his beloved Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as more than 40 million viewers watch at home — still one of the largest audiences ever for a single television broadcast. The couple’s tiptoe through the tulips lasts just eight years.
1969: The U.S. Air Force closes its Project Blue Book investigation into the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects (UFOs), which had grown immensely since the end of WWII. Though most of the more than 12,000 reports were determined to be natural phenomenon, a handful resisted final explanation.
1903: On a windy beach near Kitty Hawk, N.C., Orville Wright make the first successful flight of a self-propelled aircraft. The end result of testing hundreds of glider wing and airframes by Orville and brother Wilbur, the final aircraft stays aloft for just 12 seconds and travels 120 feet — less than the wingspan of a modern passenger jet.
DECEMBER 16, 1773: Patriots disguised as Mohawk Indians throw 342 chests of tea belonging to the East India Company into Boston Harbor in a protest over British taxes on imported tea. The “Boston Tea Party” become a pivotal moment in the nascent revolution against British rule.
1944: German forces launch their last major offensive of WWII, with 30 divisions pushing back Allied forces in the Ardennes region of Belgium in what became known as the “Battle of the Bulge.” Bad weather and surprise favored the assaulting German forces at first, but firm resistance by key Allied units slowed the attack and turned the tide.
1907: President Theodore Roosevelt sends sixteen battleships of the United State Navy’s Atlantic Fleet on a circumnavigation of the globe as a demonstration of American naval power and prestige. The hull colors of the newly-built flotilla give it the nickname the “Great White Fleet.”
1939: Producer David O. Selznick premieres his film version of Margaret Mitchell’s beloved novel Gone with the Wind. Starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, the film presents a romanticized version of the antebellum South and its demise, including the dramatic burning of Atlanta. Selznick’s epic wins ten Academy Awards, including best picture, and becomes a Hollywood landmark.
1961: Former Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann is sentenced to death for crimes against humanity after a sensational public trial in Israel. Eichmann was a key figure in Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution” and had fled to Argentina after the war, where he was tracked down by Israeli Mossad agents. He was hanged on May 31 the following year.
1944: A plane carrying bandleader and trombone player Glenn Miller disappears in bad weather over the English Channel on its way to entertain U.S. troops in France. Miller’s musicianship, innovative big-band orchestrations, and focus on connecting with listeners had made him a nationwide radio star who sold millions of records before the war.
DECEMBER 12, 1925: Arthur Heinemann opens the Milestone Mo-Tel in San Luis Obispo, Calif., considered the first formal “motel” — a hotel catering to motorists that combined individual tourist cabins under one roof. Heinemann came up with the name when he found that his intended name “Milestone Motor Hotel” would not fit on the roof.
DECEMBER 11, 1872: William F. Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, makes his stage debut in Chicago in a production of The Scouts of the Prairie. A genuine Western hero who served as an Army scout and Pony Express rider, Cody rose to fame romanticizing the American West in his traveling stage show, becoming one of the first global celebrities.
1972: Apollo 17, the final NASA mission to the moon, lands in the Taurus-Littrow valley of the lunar highlands. In the lunar module alongside commander Eugene Cernan was pilot Harrison Schmitt, the first professional scientist to set foot on the moon. The two astronauts spent three days on the surface, the longest of any mission.
1936: King Edward VIII abdicates the throne less than a year after becoming monarch to marry American socialite Wallis Warfield Simpson (at left). The wedding, to a divorced woman, would have provide problematic for the English king, who is also the head of the Church of England. He remains the only British sovereign ever to voluntarily resign the crown.
DECEMBER 10, 1965: The Grateful Dead play their first concert at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, Calif. Over the next three decades, the band’s eclectic musical style, virtuoso concert performances, and interest in psychedelia build a large and loyal audience of dedicated “Dead Heads.”
2007: Former Vice President Al Gore accepts the Nobel Peace Prize alongside the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, both for their advocacy of climate-chanage issues. At the Oslo ceremony, Gore states “We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency.” But six years later, predicted warming has not materialized.
DECEMBER 9, 1854: Alfred Lloyd Tennyson publishes his poem The Charge of the Light Brigade, an ode to the bravery of six hundred British cavalrymen who staged an ill-fated charge against Russian troops at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. Blamed on faulty delivery of orders, the charge cost the lives of 110 British troopers for no gain.
1992: President George H.W. Bush sends 1,800 U.S. Marines to Somalia to spearhead a multinational force trying to restore order amid rival warlords who had killed some 50,000 people in recent years. In October the following year, 18 American soldiers are killed in the infamous “Black Hawk Down” battle trying to arrest one of the warlords in Mogadishu.
1972: Australian pop singer Helen Reddy’s anthemic ballad “I Am Woman” reaches No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Reddy’s song of female empowerment expressed her own feelings about the importance of the growing women’s movement and the drive for an Equal Rights Amendment.
DECEMBER 8, 1941: The day after Imperial Japanese forces struck Pearl Harbor and other U.S. bases in the Pacific, killing more than 2,400 servicemen, President Franklin Roosevelt addresses a joint session of Congress and the nation via radio to ask for a declaration of war. In the speech he famously dubs December 7 as a “date which will live in infamy.” Congress declares war one hour later.
1980: Mark David Chapman shoots and kills John Lennon near the singer’s apartment in New York City. Chapman was arrested at the scene reading A Catcher in the Rye and expressed a connection to the novel’s main character. His lawyers initially planned to claim insanity, but Chapman chooses to plead guilty; he remains in prison after eight parole appeals.
1914: British naval forces avenge their defeat at the Battle of Coronel in a decisive engagement off the Falkland Islands, routing a German Imperial Navy squadron sent to raid British supplies at Port Stanley. The larger British task force engaged and sunk two German armored cruisers and two light cruisers, killing more than 1,800 German sailors.
DECEMBER 5, 1945: Five U.S. Navy Avenger bombers designated Flight 19 disappear off the coast of Florida in the infamous “Bermuda Triangle.” Garbled radio messages indicated the squadron had gotten lost due to compass malfunction, and a final snippet suggested they were preparing to ditch; a plane sent to search for them also disappeared. Their fate has never been solved.
1876: Nearly 300 people are killed in a fire that rages through the Brooklyn Theater. The popular venue was standing room only for a performance of The Two Orphans, with some 900 in the audience. Stagehands noticed a fire halfway through the play, but lacked any hoses or water buckets to fight it. Many victims were trapped by or killed in the panic to escape.
DECEMBER 4, 1980: The rock group Led Zeppelin announces they are disbanding following the death of drummer John Bonham (pictured at left). Formed in 1968, the influential and innovative band dominated album sales and concert tours around the world with a pounding heavy metal sound — mixed with lighter folk and blues fare — creating iconic rock songs such Stairway to Heaven.
1991: American journalist Terry Anderson is freed by Hezbollah militants in Lebanon after six and a half years in captivity. Anderson, an AP correspondent, was one of 92 foreign citizens kidnapped during the country’s bitter war that raged from 1975 to 1990. Anderson later sued the government of Iran for sponsoring his captors.
DECEMBER 3, 1984: An explosion at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, releases toxic pesticide fumes that kill at least 2,000 people and injure an estimated 200,000, some seriously. Cold weather kept the escaping gas cloud near the ground as it swept over nearby neighborhoods and caused a panicked stampede at the local train station.
1979: Eleven people are killed at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum in a stampede of fans at the opening of a concert by the British rock group The Who. Bearing tickets sold under a “festival seating” format, some 8,000 fans surged into the entrance and smashed glass doors in a rush to grab prime seats. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the city banned festival seating.
1954: The U.S. Senate votes to condemn Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy over his controversial campaign against suspected Communist influence in government and civil society. McCarthy had tapped into anti-Communist anxieties by bullying and threatening numerous defendants in public hearings, but the range of his accusations ultimately became his undoing.
1859: Radical abolitionist John Brown is executed after being convicted of treason and insurrection for leading the attack on Harpers Ferry. Brown had sought to incite a slave rebellion by seizing weapons from the federal arsenal, but was beaten back by local militias and later federal troops led by Robert E. Lee. His death galvanized the anti-slavery movement in the north.
1823: President James Monroe sets out a new foreign policy initiative to resist the expansion of European influence in Western hemisphere affairs while remaining neutral in future European conflicts. Later dubbed the “Monroe Doctrine,” the policy was developed by secretary of state John Quincy Adams to counter any attempt to reestablish Spanish colonial rule in the region.
1804: Napoleon Bonaparte is crowed Napoleon I, the first French ruler to hold the title of emperor in more than a thousand years. The young general had waged successful campaigns against several European powers, an in 1802 established the Napoleonic Code of laws at home. But his fortunes began to wane after a disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812.
1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white rider on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, an act that would become a pivotal moment in the nascent civil rights movement. A boycott of the city’s bus system was organized by local ministers (including Martin Luther King Jr.) that would last a year, culminating in a Supreme Court ruling striking down the city’s bus segregation laws.
1963: The British Invasion begins as The Beatles release the single “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to American music fans. Already a major hit in Britain, the song quickly climbs to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 sales chart, reigning for seven weeks until being knocked off by another Beatles song, “She Loves You.” The group makes their first trip to the U.S. in February 1964.
1862: President Abraham Lincoln delivers his State of the Union speech to Congress, the first since issuing the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in the rebellious states. Casting the conflict as a war against slavery had not been universally supported, and Lincoln pressed his case, saying: “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of Earth.”
1824: Congress meets for the first time to decide the outcome of a presidential election after neither John Quincy Adams (pictured) or Andrew Jackson win a majority in the electoral college. While Jackson led with 99 votes to Adams’s 84, House speaker Henry Clay — himself a candidate — convinced fellow lawmakers to back Adams, and for his effort was appointed secretary of state.
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