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Today in History

The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, Dec. 15, the 349th day of 2013. There are 16 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 15, 1938, groundbreaking for the Jefferson Memorial took place in Washington, D.C. with President Franklin D. Roosevelt taking part in the ceremony.

On this date:

In 1791, the Bill of Rights went into effect following ratification by Virginia.

In 1890, Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull and 11 other tribe members were killed in Grand River, S.D., during a confrontation with Indian police.

In 1893, Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, “From the New World,” was rehearsed before the public at New York’s Carnegie Hall (the official world premiere was held the next day).

In 1944, a single-engine plane carrying bandleader Glenn Miller, a major in the U.S. Army Air Forces, disappeared over the English Channel while en route to Paris. American forces invaded Mindoro Island in the Philippines.

In 1961, former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death by an Israeli court for crimes against humanity. (Eichmann was hanged 5½ months later.)

In 1962, the Vail Mountain ski resort in Colorado officially opened. Actor-director Charles Laughton died in Los Angeles at age 63.

In 1965, two U.S. manned spacecraft, Gemini 6A and Gemini 7, maneuvered to within 10 feet of each other while in orbit.

In 1971, the Secret Service appointed its first five female special agents.

In 1989, a popular uprising began in Romania that resulted in the downfall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (chow-SHES’-koo).

In 1991, an Egyptian-registered ferry, the Salem Express, hit a reef and sank in the Red Sea; at least 470 people died, although some estimates are much higher.

In 1993, U.S. Defense Secretary Les Aspin announced his resignation, citing “personal reasons.”

In 2001, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, was reopened to the public after a $27 million realignment that had dragged on for over a decade.

Ten years ago: Former nurse Charles Cullen was charged with murder after telling prosecutors he had killed 30 to 40 severely ill patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey since 1987 by injecting them with drugs. (Cullen later pleaded guilty to killing 29 people and attempting to kill six others; he was sentenced to 18 life prison terms.) The late Sen. Strom Thurmond’s family acknowledged Essie Mae Washington-Williams’ claim that she was his illegitimate mixed-race daughter.

Five years ago: President George W. Bush wrapped up a whirlwind trip to Iraq and Afghanistan.

; an Iraqi reporter hurled two shoes at Bush, an incident the president called “a bizarre moment.” President-elect Barack Obama said a review by his own lawyer showed he’d had no direct contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (blah-GOY’-uh-vich) about the appointment of a Senate replacement, and that transition aides “did nothing inappropriate.” Illinois lawmakers took the first steps toward removing Blagojevich, a Democrat, from office.

One year ago: A day after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., investigators worked to understand what led 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza to slaughter 26 children and adults after also killing his mother and before taking his own life. In his Saturday radio address, President Barack Obama declared that “every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt” and said it was time to “take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this.”

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-comedian Tim Conway is 80. Singer Cindy Birdsong (The Supremes) is 74. Rock musician Dave Clark (The Dave Clark Five) is 71. Rock musician Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge) is 67. Actor Don Johnson is 64. Actress Melanie Chartoff is 63. Movie director Julie Taymor is 61. Movie director Alex Cox is 59. Actor Justin Ross is 59. Rock musician Paul Simonon (The Clash) is 58. DNC Vice Chairwoman Donna Brazile is 54. Country singer Doug Phelps (Brother Phelps; Kentucky Headhunters) is 53. Movie producer-director Reginald Hudlin is 52. Actress Helen Slater is 50. Actress Molly Price is 48. Actor Michael Shanks is 43. Actor Stuart Townsend is 41. Figure skater Surya Bonaly is 40. “Crowd-hyper” Kito Trawick (Ghostown DJs) is 36. Actor Adam Brody is 34. Actress Michelle Dockery (TV: “Downton Abbey”) is 32. Actor George O. Gore II is 31. Actress Camilla Luddington (TV: “Grey’s Anatomy”) is 30. Rock musician Alana Haim (HYM) is 22. Actress Stefania Owen is 16.

Thought for Today: “The drama of life begins with a wail and ends with a sigh.” — Minna Antrim, American writer (1856-1950).

(Above Advance for Use Sunday, Dec. 15)

Copyright 2013, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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