Today in History: Dec. 24

In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Aida” had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt.
The Earth shines over the horizon of the Moon in this Dec. 24, 1968 photo shot by the astronauts on Apollo 8.  Apollo 8 was launched from Cape Canaveral on Dec. 21, 1968.  (AP Photo)
In 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast.

The Earth shines over the horizon of the Moon in this Dec. 24, 1968 photo shot by the astronauts on Apollo 8. Apollo 8 was launched from Cape Canaveral on Dec. 21, 1968. (AP Photo)

A photograph June 26,1975 of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy hit last Christmas Day Dec. 25, 1974, shows a row of stilt houses smashed and surrounded by rubble. Darwin is Australia's northernmost city, with a population at the time of the cyclone of 46,000. Nearly two thirds of the houses in town were wrecked in the storm, which also killed 49 people. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier)
In 1974, Cyclone Tracy began battering the Australian city of Darwin, resulting in widespread damage and causing some 65 deaths. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier)

In this aerial photo, a portion of an old reserve trench is visible near the Somme River, on the western front, in France, during World War I. Exact location and date are unknown. (AP Photo)
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 this aerial photo, a portion of an old reserve trench is visible near the Somme River, on the western front, in France, during World War I. Exact location and date are unknown. (AP Photo)

KU KLUX KLAN
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.

FILE- In this July 23, 1948 file photo the Ku Klux Klan burns a huge cross atop Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, Ga., while initiating 700 new members. Stone Mountain’s history is deeply entwined with the Ku Klux Klan. The group’s rebirth in 1915 was marked with a Thanksgiving night cross burning atop the mountain. But today it also hosts many other attractions, like hiking and kayaking. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - This May 5, 2011 file photo shows the General Motors headquarters in Detroit. GM announced plans to shed 8,000 white-collar jobs, erasing the long-held notion that if you have an education, you’re immune from cyclical layoffs that used to be reserved for factory workers. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
In 2008, the Federal Reserve granted a request by the financing arm of General Motors to tap the government’s $700 billion rescue fund, bolstering GM’s ability to survive.

FILE – This May 5, 2011 file photo shows the General Motors headquarters in Detroit. GM announced plans to shed 8,000 white-collar jobs, erasing the long-held notion that if you have an education, you’re immune from cyclical layoffs that used to be reserved for factory workers. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a Mass in Freedom Square, in Tallinn, Estonia, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Pope Francis concludes his four-day tour of the Baltics visiting Estonia. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
In 2013, Pope Francis lauded Jesus’ humble beginning as a poor and vulnerable baby as he celebrated his first Christmas Eve Mass as pontiff in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a Mass in Freedom Square, in Tallinn, Estonia, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Pope Francis concludes his four-day tour of the Baltics visiting Estonia. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

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The Earth shines over the horizon of the Moon in this Dec. 24, 1968 photo shot by the astronauts on Apollo 8.  Apollo 8 was launched from Cape Canaveral on Dec. 21, 1968.  (AP Photo)
A photograph June 26,1975 of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy hit last Christmas Day Dec. 25, 1974, shows a row of stilt houses smashed and surrounded by rubble. Darwin is Australia's northernmost city, with a population at the time of the cyclone of 46,000. Nearly two thirds of the houses in town were wrecked in the storm, which also killed 49 people. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier)
In this aerial photo, a portion of an old reserve trench is visible near the Somme River, on the western front, in France, during World War I. Exact location and date are unknown. (AP Photo)
KU KLUX KLAN
FILE - This May 5, 2011 file photo shows the General Motors headquarters in Detroit. GM announced plans to shed 8,000 white-collar jobs, erasing the long-held notion that if you have an education, you’re immune from cyclical layoffs that used to be reserved for factory workers. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a Mass in Freedom Square, in Tallinn, Estonia, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Pope Francis concludes his four-day tour of the Baltics visiting Estonia. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Today is Monday, Dec. 24, the 358th day of 2018.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 24, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe as part of Operation Overlord.

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 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 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.

In 1913, 73 people, most of them children, died in a crush of panic after a false cry of “Fire!” during a Christmas party for striking miners and their families at the Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan.

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 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 1990, actor Tom Cruise married his “Days of Thunder” co-star, Nicole Kidman, during a private ceremony at a Colorado ski resort (the marriage ended in 2001).

In 1992, President Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five others in the Iran-Contra scandal.

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: A man dressed in a Santa Claus suit shot his way into the Covina, Calif., home of his former in-laws and set it on fire, killing nine people (the attacker, identified as Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, committed suicide the next day). The Federal Reserve granted a request by the financing arm of General Motors to tap the government’s $700 billion rescue fund, bolstering GM’s ability to survive. Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter died in London at age 78.

Five years ago: In Egypt, a car bomb ripped through a security headquarters in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, killing 16 people, almost all policemen. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II granted a posthumous pardon to code-breaker Alan Turing, who was convicted of homosexual behavior in the 1950s. Pope Francis lauded Jesus’ humble beginning as a poor and vulnerable baby as he celebrated his first Christmas Eve Mass as pontiff in St. Peter’s Basilica.

One year ago: Peru’s president announced that he had granted a medical pardon to jailed former strongman Alberto Fujimori, 79, who had been serving a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses, corruption and the sanctioning of death squads. In Christmas eve remarks, Pope Francis likened the journey to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph to the migrations of millions of people today who are forced to leave homelands for a better life, or just to survive. Hundreds of supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny nominated him for president, allowing him to file the required endorsement papers and putting pressure on the Kremlin to allow him to run. (Navalny was blocked from the ballot because of a felony conviction in a case that his supporters regarded as falsified.)

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