Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 22, 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, U.S. Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe rejected a German demand for surrender, writing "Nuts!" in his official reply.
On this date:
In 1775, Esek Hopkins was appointed the commander in chief of the Continental Navy.
In 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, and Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, had their world premieres in Vienna, Austria.
In 1864, during the Civil War, Union Gen. William T. Sherman said in a message to President Abraham Lincoln: "I beg to present you as a Christmas-gift the city of Savannah."
In 1894, French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggered worldwide charges of anti-Semitism. (Dreyfus was eventually vindicated.)
In 1910, a fire lasting more than 26 hours broke out at the Chicago Union Stock Yards; 21 firefighters were killed in the collapse of a burning building.
In 1937, the first, center tube of the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New York City and New Jersey underneath the Hudson River was opened to traffic. (The north tube opened in 1945, the south tube in 1957.)
In 1968, Julie Nixon married David Eisenhower in a private ceremony in New York.
In 1977, three dozen people were killed when a 250-foot-high grain elevator at the Continental Grain Company plant in Westwego, La., exploded.
In 1984, New York City resident Bernhard Goetz shot and wounded four youths on a Manhattan subway, claiming they were about to rob him.
In 1988, Brazilian environmentalist Chico Mendes was shot and killed. (Rancher Darly Alves da Silva and his son, Darci, who pulled the trigger, were sentenced to prison for killing Mendes; they were freed after serving a third of their 19-year sentences.)
In 1992, a Libyan Boeing 727 jetliner crashed after a midair collision with a MiG fighter, killing all 157 aboard the jetliner, and both crew members of the fighter jet.
In 2001, Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and fellow passengers. (Reid is serving a life sentence in federal prison.)
Ten years ago: A magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit California's central coast, killing two people. A federal judge ruled the Pentagon couldn't enforce mandatory anthrax vaccinations for military personnel. Colombian rebels freed four Israelis and a Briton held hostage for 101 days.
Five years ago: Five Muslim immigrants accused of scheming to massacre U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix were convicted of conspiracy in Camden, N.J. (Four were later sentenced to life in prison; one received a 33-year sentence.) Toyota projected its first operating loss in 70 years due to the global economic slowdown. The president of Guinea, Lansana Conte, died nearly a quarter of a century after seizing power in a coup; he was believed to be in his 70s.
One year ago: Egypt's Islamist-backed constitution received a "yes" majority in a final round of voting on a referendum that saw a low voter turnout. A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed nine people, including a provincial government official, at a political rally held by a party that had opposed the Taliban.
Today's Birthdays: Former House Speaker Jim Wright is 91. Actor Hector Elizondo is 77. Country singer Red Steagall is 75. Former World Bank Group President Paul Wolfowitz is 70. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Steve Carlton is 69. ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer is 68. Rock singer-musician Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) is 67. Rock singer-musician Michael Bacon is 65. Baseball All-Star Steve Garvey is 65. Golfer Jan Stephenson is 62. Actress BernNadette Stanis is 60. Rapper Luther Campbell is 53. Country singer-musician Chuck Mead is 53. Actor Ralph Fiennes is 51. Actress Lauralee Bell is 45. Country singer Lori McKenna is 45. Actress Dina Meyer is 45. Actress Heather Donahue is 40. Actor Chris Carmack is 33. Actor Logan Huffman is 24. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jordin Sparks is 24.
Thought for Today: "Those wearing tolerance for a label call other views intolerable." — Phyllis McGinley, American poet and author (1905-1978).