Today is Tuesday, Dec. 24, the 358th day of 2013. There are seven days left in the year. This is Christmas Eve.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 24, 1913, 73 people, most of them children, died in a crush of panic after someone falsely called out "Fire!" during a Christmas party for striking miners and their families at the Italian Hall in Calumet, Mich.
On this date:
In 1524, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama — who had discovered a sea route around Africa to India — died in Cochin, India.
In 1814, the War of 1812 officially ended as the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent.
In 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroying about 35,000 volumes.
In 1863, English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, author of "Vanity Fair," died in London at age 52.
In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tenn., called the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt.
In 1906, Canadian physicist Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to transmit the human voice (his own) as well as music over radio, from Brant Rock, Mass.
In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe as part of Operation Overlord.
In 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the first opera written specifically for television, was first broadcast by NBC-TV.
In 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast.
In 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity.
In 1993, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, who blended Christian and psychiatric principles into a message of "positive thinking," died in Pawling, N.Y., at age 95.
Ten years ago: A roadside bomb exploded north of Baghdad, killing three U.S. soldiers in the deadliest attack on Americans to that time following Saddam Hussein's capture. Air France canceled several flights to the United States after U.S. officials passed on what were termed "credible" security threats.
Five years ago: A man dressed in a Santa Claus suit shot his way into the Covina, Calif., home of his former in-laws and set it on fire, killing nine people (the attacker, identified as Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, committed suicide the next day). The Federal Reserve granted a request by the financing arm of General Motors to tap the government's $700 billion rescue fund, bolstering GM's ability to survive. Army Capt. Moussa Camara, the leader of a coup in Guinea, entered the country's capital, hours after saying his group would hold power until elections in two years. Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter died in London at age 78.
One year ago: An Afghan policewoman walked into a high-security compound in Kabul and killed an American contractor, the first such shooting by a woman in a spate of insider attacks by Afghans against their foreign allies. An ex-con gunned down two firefighters in Webster, N.Y., after luring them to his suburban Rochester neighborhood by setting a car and a house ablaze, then took shots at police and committed suicide while several homes burned. Death claimed actors Charles Durning, 89, and Jack Klugman, 90.
Today's Birthdays: Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew is 93. Author Mary Higgins Clark is 86. Federal health official Anthony S. Fauci is 73. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 69. Rock singer-musician Lemmy (Motorhead) is 68. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is 67. Actor Grand L. Bush is 58. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 58. Actress Stephanie Hodge is 57. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (HAH'-mihd KAHR'-zeye), is 56. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 56. Actor Anil Kapoor is 54. Actor Wade Williams is 52. Designer Kate Spade is 51. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 50. Actor Mark Valley is 49. Actor Diedrich Bader is 47. Actor Amaury Nolasco is 43. Singer Ricky Martin is 42. Author Stephenie Meyer is 40. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest is 39. Actor Michael Raymond-James (TV: "Once Upon a Time") is 36. Rock singer Louis Tomlinson (One Direction) is 22.
Thought for Today: "Christmas is the day that holds all time together." — Alexander Smith, Scottish poet and essayist (1830-1867).