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This day in history

Wednesday, Dec. 26, isthe 361st day of 2012. There are five days left in the year. The seven-day African-American holiday Kwanzaa begins today. This is Boxing Day.

Today’s birthdays: Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on ‘‘Sesame Street”) is 79. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul ‘‘Duke’’ Fakir (the Four Tops) is 77. Record producer Phil Spector is 73. ‘‘America’s Most Wanted’’ host John Walsh is 67. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 65. Retired MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss is 64. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 58. Former Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) is 57. Humorist David Sedaris is 56. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 49. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 33. Actress Beth Behrs (‘‘2 Broke Girls”) is 27.

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In 1776, the British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.

In 1799, former President Washington was eulogized by Colonel Henry Lee as ‘‘first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.’’

In 1862, 38 Santee Sioux Indians were hanged in Mankato, Minn., for their roles in an uprising that had claimed the lives of hundreds of white settlers. The Civil War Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, resulting in a Confederate victory, began in Mississippi.

In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship as he defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia.

In 1910, the London Palladium, Britain’s famous variety theater, first opened.

In 1941, during World War II, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the US Congress.

In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled US 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division.

In 1966, Kwanzaa was first celebrated.

In 1972, the 33d president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Mo., at age 88.

In 1980, Iranian television footage was broadcast in the United States, showing a dozen of the American hostages sending messages to their families.

In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colo. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved.)

In 2004, some 230,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a tsunami triggered by the world’s most powerful earthquake in 40 years beneath the Indian Ocean.

In 2006, former President Ford died in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 93.

Israeli soldiers killed seven Palestinians in West Bank raids and reimposed a curfew on Bethlehem after briefly withdrawing over Christmas.

In 2007, six people were found dead at a rural property east of Seattle; the property owners’ daughter and her boyfriend were arrested. (Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe face capital murder charges in the shootings of three generations of Anderson’s family.) Joe Dolan, one of Ireland’s first pop music stars, died.

In 2011, Dr. Luis Bonilla, a heart surgeon from a Mayo Clinic in Florida flying across the northern corner of the state to retrieve a heart for transplant, was killed with two other people when their helicopter crashed.

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