Today in History

Today is Thursday, Dec. 22, the 356th day of 2022. There are nine days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 22, 1990, Lech Walesa (lek vah-WEN’-sah) took the oath of office as Poland’s first popularly elected president.

On this date:

In 1858, opera composer Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca, Italy.

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 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in Washington for a wartime conference with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 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.

In 1984, New York City resident Bernhard Goetz (bur-NAHRD’ gehts) shot and wounded four youths on a Manhattan subway, claiming they were about to rob him.

In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu (chow-SHES’-koo), the last of Eastern Europe’s hard-line Communist rulers, was toppled from power in a popular uprising.

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 1995, actor Butterfly McQueen, who’d played the scatterbrained slave Prissy in “Gone with the Wind,” died in Augusta, Georgia, at age 84.

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.)

In 2003, a federal judge ruled the Pentagon couldn’t enforce mandatory anthrax vaccinations for military personnel.

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law allowing gays for the first time in history to serve openly in America’s military, repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

In 2020, President Donald Trump unexpectedly released two videos, one falsely declaring that he had won the election in a “landslide,” and the other urging lawmakers to increase direct payments for most individuals to $2,000 in a COVID relief package, a move opposed by most Republicans.

Ten years ago: The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye was praised as a humble leader who embodied honor, dignity and duty during a public visitation at Hawaii’s state Capitol, five days after his death at age 88. Egypt’s Islamist-backed constitution received a “yes” majority in a final round of voting on a referendum that saw a low voter turnout.

Five years ago: The wildfire that had burned its way through communities and wilderness northwest of Los Angeles became the largest blaze ever officially recorded in California; it had scorched 273,400 acres and destroyed more than 700 homes. iPhone owners from several states sued Apple for not disclosing sooner that it issued software updates deliberately slowing older-model phones so aging batteries would last longer. President Donald Trump signed the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul into law. The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions against North Korea in response to its latest launch of a ballistic missile that Pyongyang said was capable of reaching anywhere on the U.S. mainland.

One year ago: U.S. health regulators authorized the first pill against COVID-19, a Pfizer drug that Americans would be able to take at home to head off the worst effects of the virus. A New York man, Matthew Greene, pleaded guilty to storming the U.S. Capitol with fellow members of the far-right Proud Boys; he was the first Proud Boys member to publicly plead guilty to conspiring with other members to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote. The Department of Homeland Security announced that 100 children, mostly from Central America, had been reunited with their families after being separated under President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance border policy. The NHL announced that players would not be able to participate in the Beijing Olympics; the league would spend the previously scheduled Olympic break making up games postponed because of COVID-19 protocols.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Hector Elizondo is 86. Country singer Red Steagall is 84. Former World Bank Group President Paul Wolfowitz is 79. Baseball Hall of Famer Steve Carlton is 78. Former ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer is 77. Rock singer-musician Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) is 74. Rock singer-musician Michael Bacon is 74. Baseball All-Star Steve Garvey is 74. Golfer Jan Stephenson is 71. Actor BernNadette Stanis is 69. Rapper Luther “Luke” Campbell is 62. Actor Ralph Fiennes (rayf fynz) is 60. Actor Lauralee Bell is 54. Country singer Lori McKenna is 54. Actor Dina Meyer is 54. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is 52. Actor Heather Donahue is 49. Actor Chris Carmack is 42. Actor Harry Ford is 40. Actor Greg Finley is 38. Actor Logan Huffman is 33. R&B singer Jordin Sparks is 33. Pop singer Meghan Trainor is 29. Norwegian tennis player Casper Ruud is 24.

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