This Day in History

Posted: Monday, December 25, 2006

In Alaska

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• In 1923, the Point Retreat Light Station near Juneau was placed in operation.

• In 1925, the Sitka Progress, a weekly newspaper, published its first issue.

• In 1959, Kodiak's water supply was exhausted as 64 million gallons of water leaked from the community's reservoir through a 5-foot crack in the dam's footings.

• In 1979, a 740-foot Japanese freighter capsized off northern British Columbia. All 30 men on board died.

In the nation

• In 1776, General George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, N.J.

• In 1931, New York's Metropolitan Opera broadcast an entire opera over radio for the first time: "Hansel and Gretel" by Engelbert Humperdinck.

In the world

• In A.D. 336, the first recorded celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25 took place in Rome.

• In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England.

• 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.

• 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.

• In 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on TV to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.

• In 1996, Peruvians held candles high and prayed outside the Japanese ambassador's residence, where leftist rebels freed one hostage for health reasons, but continued to hold more than 100 others.

• In 2001, from Mazar-e-Sharif to Kandahar in Afghanistan and the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea, American forces celebrated Christmas with carols, touch football and turkey dinners. In his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" message, Pope John Paul the Second turned his thoughts at Christmas to children - Palestinian, Israeli, American, Afghan and African - declaring that humanity's hope depends on helping them.

• In 2005, Pope Benedict the 16th marked his first Christmas as pope, calling for concrete actions to back up "signs of hope" in the Middle East and urging peace in Darfur, Sudan and the Korean peninsula.

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