Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 28, 2014, the war in Afghanistan, fought for 13 bloody years and still raging, came to a formal end with a quiet flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul that marked the transition of the fighting from U.S.-led combat troops to the country’s own security forces.
On this date:
In 1612, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei observed the planet Neptune, but mistook it for a star. (Neptune wasn’t officially discovered until 1846 by Johann Gottfried Galle.)
In 1832, John C. Calhoun became the first vice president of the United States to resign, stepping down because of differences with President Andrew Jackson.
In 1895, the Lumiere brothers, Auguste and Louis, held the first public showing of their movies in Paris.
In 1908, a major earthquake followed by a tsunami devastated the Italian city of Messina, killing at least 70,000 people.
In 1945, Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance.
In 1972, Kim Il Sung, the premier of North Korea, was named the country’s president under a new constitution.
In 1973, the Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
In 1975, the “Hail Mary pass” entered the football lexicon as Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach tossed the ball to Drew Pearson for an improbable 50-yard touchdown with 24 seconds left to help the Cowboys come back to edge the Minnesota Vikings 17-14.
In 1981, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, the first American “test-tube” baby, was born in Norfolk, Virginia.
In 1991, nine people died in a crush of people trying to get into a rap celebrity basketball game at City College in New York.
In 2007, Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was laid to rest as the country’s army tried to quell a frenzy of rioting in the wake of her assassination.
In 2015, a grand jury in Cleveland declined to indict a white rookie police officer in the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a Black youngster who was shot while playing with what turned out to be a pellet gun.
Ten years ago: North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, escorted his father’s hearse in an elaborate state funeral, bowing somberly and saluting in front of tens of thousands of citizens who wailed and stamped their feet in grief for Kim Jong Il. Turkish warplanes mistakenly killed 35 smugglers and other villagers in an operation targeting Kurdish rebels in Iraq. Kaye Stevens, a singer and actor who performed with the Rat Pack and was a frequent guest on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show,” died in The Villages, Florida, at age 79.
Five years ago: Film star Debbie Reynolds, who lit up the screen in “Singin’ in the Rain” and other Hollywood classics, died at age 84 a day after losing her daughter, Carrie Fisher, who was 60. Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic (ee-VAH’-noh-vich) said she was retiring from tennis after a series of injuries meant she could no longer play at the highest level.
One year ago: Residents and staff members at a Seattle-area nursing home that had the first deadly COVID-19 outbreak in the United States began receiving vaccines. A Chinese court sentenced a former lawyer who had reported on the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak to four years in prison on charges of “picking fights and provoking trouble.” A white Columbus, Ohio, police officer, Adam Coy, was fired after bodycam footage showed him fatally shooting Andre Hill – a Black man who was holding a cellphone – and failing to administer first aid for several minutes. (Coy is scheduled to face trial for murder in 2022.) “Full House” actor Lori Loughlin was released from prison after spending two months behind bars for paying a half million dollars in bribes to get her two daughters into college.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Nichelle Nichols is 89. Actor Dame Maggie Smith is 87. Former Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is 75. Rock singer-musician Edgar Winter is 75. Actor Denzel Washington is 67. TV personality Gayle King is 67. Actor Chad McQueen is 61. Country singer-musician Marty Roe (Diamond Rio) is 61. Actor Malcolm Gets is 58. Actor Mauricio Mendoza is 52. Actor Elaine Hendrix is 51. Political commentator Ana Navarro is 50. Talk show host Seth Meyers is 48. Actor Brendan Hines is 45. Actor Joe Manganiello is 45. Actor Vanessa Ferlito is 44.
R&B singer John Legend is 43. Rapper-musician-producer Terrace Martin is 43. Actor Andre Holland is 42. Actor Sienna Miller is 40. Actor Beau Garrett (TV: “The Good Doctor”) is 39. Actor Thomas Dekker is 34. Actor Mackenzie Rosman is 32. Pop singer David Archuleta is 31. Actor Mary-Charles Jones (TV: “Kevin Can Wait”) is 20. Actor Miles Brown is 17.