Today in History

The Associated Press
·4-min read

Today in History

Today is Monday, Dec. 28, the 363rd day of 2020. There are three days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 28, 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.)

On this date:

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 1908, a major earthquake followed by a tsunami devastated the Italian city of Messina, killing at least 70,000 people.

In 1912, San Francisco’s Municipal Railway began operations with Mayor James Rolph Jr. at the controls of Streetcar No. 1 as 50,000 spectators looked on.

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 1981, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, the first American “test-tube” baby, was born in Norfolk, Virginia.

In 1987, the bodies of 14 relatives of Ronald Gene Simmons were found at his home near Dover, Arkansas, after Simmons shot and killed two other people in Russellville. (Simmons, who never explained his motives, was executed in 1990.)

In 2001, the National Guard was called out to help Buffalo, New York, dig out from a paralyzing, 5-day storm that had unloaded nearly 7 feet of snow.

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 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.

In 2016, Actor 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.

Ten years ago: Eight young people were killed in a fire that swept through an abandoned New Orleans warehouse (some of the victims were squatters who had been living inside the building). Agathe von Trapp, the real-life inspiration for eldest daughter Liesl in the musical “The Sound of Music,” died in Towson, Maryland, at age 97.

Five years ago: 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. Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led airstrikes drove Islamic State militants out of the center of Ramadi and seized the main government complex there. Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, 70, the singer and bassist who founded Motorhead in 1975, died in Los Angeles.

One year ago: A man armed with a machete stabbed five people at a Hanukkah celebration in a rabbi’s home in suburban New York; the most critically injured victim, 72-year-old Josef Neumann, died three months after the attack. (Grafton Thomas has pleaded not guilty; the charges include federal hate crimes.) A truck bomb attack at a busy checkpoint in the Somali capital of Mogadishu left 79 people dead; Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamic extremist rebels claimed responsibility. Five people were killed in the crash of a small plane in Lafayette, Louisiana, as they headed to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta to see LSU play Oklahoma; the victims included local TV reporter Carley McCord, the daughter-in-law of LSU’s offensive coordinator. Tennis star Serena Williams was voted the AP’s Female Athlete of the Decade. U.S. astronaut Christina Koch set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, breaking the old mark of 288 days.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Nichelle Nichols is 88. Actor Dame Maggie Smith is 86. Former Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is 76. Former Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is 74. Rock singer-musician Edgar Winter is 74. Actor Denzel Washington is 66. TV personality Gayle King is 66. Actor Chad McQueen is 60. Country singer-musician Marty Roe (Diamond Rio) is 60. Actor Malcolm Gets is 57. Actor Mauricio Mendoza is 51. Actor Elaine Hendrix is 50. Political commentator Ana Navarro is 49. Talk show host Seth Meyers is 47. Actor Brendan Hines is 44. Actor Joe Manganiello is 44. Actor Vanessa Ferlito is 43. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Legend is 42. Rapper-musician-producer Terrace Martin is 42. Actor Andre Holland is 41. Actor Sienna Miller is 39. Actor Beau Garrett (TV: “The Good Doctor”) is 38. Pop singer Kasey Sheridan (Dream) is 34. Actor Thomas Dekker is 33. Actor Mackenzie Rosman is 31. Pop singer David Archuleta is 30. Actor Mary-Charles Jones (TV: “Kevin Can Wait”) is 19. Actor Miles Brown is 16.