Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 14, 1799, the first president of the United States, George Washington, died at his Mount Vernon, Va., home at age 67.
On this date:
In 1819, Alabama joined the Union as the 22nd state.
In 1861, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, died at Windsor Castle at age 42.
In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team became the first men to reach the South Pole, beating out a British expedition led by Robert F. Scott.
In 1918, "Il Trittico," a trio of one-act operas by Giacomo Puccini, premiered at New York's Metropolitan Opera House. (The third opera, "Gianni Schicchi," featured the aria "O Mio Babbino Caro," which was an immediate hit.)
In 1936, the comedy "You Can't Take It With You" by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart opened on Broadway.
In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish U.N. headquarters in New York.
In 1961, a school bus was hit by a passenger train at a crossing near Greeley, Colo., killing 20 students.
In 1962, the U.S. space probe Mariner 2 passed Venus at a distance of just over 21,000 miles, transmitting information about the planet, such as its hot surface temperatures and predominantly carbon dioxide atmosphere.
In 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan concluded their third and final moonwalk and blasted off for their rendezvous with the command module.
In 1975, six South Moluccan extremists surrendered after holding 23 hostages for 12 days on a train near the Dutch town of Beilen.
In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights, which it had seized from Syria in 1967.
In 1986, the experimental aircraft Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California on the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world.
Ten years ago: A weary, disheveled Saddam Hussein was displayed on television screens worldwide, a day after his capture by American troops. A car bombing outside an Iraqi police station near Baghdad killed at least 17 people. Actress Jeanne Crain died in Santa Barbara, Calif., at age 78.
Five years ago: An Iraqi journalist hurled each of his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad; Bush ducked the flying footwear as they whizzed past his head and landed against the wall behind him. (The shoe-thrower, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, ended up spending nine months in prison.)
One year ago: A gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., then committed suicide as police arrived. Authorities say 20-year-old Adam Lanza had fatally shot his mother at their home before carrying out the attack on the school.
Today's Birthdays: Jazz musician Clark Terry is 93. Singer-actress Abbe Lane is 82. Actor Hal Williams is 79. Actress-singer Jane Birkin is 67. Actress Patty Duke is 67. Pop singer Joyce Vincent-Wilson (Tony Orlando and Dawn) is 67. Entertainment executive Michael Ovitz is 67. Actress Dee Wallace is 65. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ronnie McNeir (The Four Tops) is 64. Rock musician Cliff Williams (AC/DC) is 64. Actor-comedian T.K. Carter is 57. Rock singer-musician Mike Scott (The Waterboys) is 55. Singer-musician Peter "Spider" Stacy (The Pogues) is 55. Actress Cynthia Gibb is 50. Actress Natascha McElhone is 44. Actress-comedian Michaela Watkins is 42. Rhythm-and-blues singer Brian Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 38. Actress KaDee Strickland is 38. Actress Tammy Blanchard is 37. Actress Sophie Monk is 34. Actress Vanessa Hudgens is 25.
Thought for Today: "You can close your eyes to reality but not to memories." — Stanislaw J. Lec, Polish author (1909-1966).