Today's Highlights in History:
On Dec. 15, 1944, the U.S. Senate approved the promotions of Henry H. Arnold, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and George C. Marshall to the five-star rank of General of the Army and the nominations of William D. Leahy, Ernest J. King and Chester W. Nimitz as Admirals of the Fleet. U.S. forces invaded Mindoro Island in the Philippines, encountering little resistance from the Japanese. 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.
On this date:
In 1791, the Bill of Rights went into effect following ratification by Virginia.
In 1814, the "Hartford Convention" began as New England Federalists opposed to the War of 1812 secretly gathered in the Connecticut capital. (America's victory in the Battle of New Orleans and the war's end effectively discredited the Convention.)
In 1864, the two-day Battle of Nashville began during the Civil War as Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas attacked Confederate troops led by Gen. John Bell Hood; the result was a resounding Northern victory.
In 1890, Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull and 11 other tribe members were killed in Grand River, South Dakota, during a confrontation with Indian police.
In 1938, groundbreaking for the Jefferson Memorial took place in Washington, D.C. with President Franklin D. Roosevelt taking part in the ceremony.
In 1939, the Civil War motion picture epic Gone with the Wind, starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, had its world premiere in Atlanta.
In 1964, Canada's House of Commons approved dropping the country's "Red Ensign" flag in favor of a new design, the "Maple Leaf" flag.
In 1965, two U.S. manned spacecraft, Gemini 6A and Gemini 7, maneuvered to within 10 feet of each other while in orbit.
In 1974, the horror spoof Young Frankenstein, starring Gene Wilder and directed by Mel Brooks, was released by 20th Century Fox.
In 1989, a popular uprising began in Romania that resulted in the downfall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
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 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: Time Warner Inc. agreed to pay over $500 million to resolve federal securities fraud and accounting investigations of its America Online unit. American telecommunications giants Sprint Corp. and Nextel Communications Inc. announced they would merge in a $35 billion deal. Pauline Gore, mother of former Vice President Al Gore, died in Carthage, Tennessee; she was 92. The boxing drama Million Dollar Baby, starring Clint Eastwood (who also directed) and Hilary Swank, was put in limited release by Warner Bros.
Five years ago: World leaders formally opened a U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen. The Washington, D.C. City Council voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Boeing's new 787 "Dreamliner" jet went on its long-delayed first test flight, lifting off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington. Evangelist Oral Roberts died in Newport Beach, California, at age 91.
One year ago: Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in his childhood hometown, ending a 10-day mourning period for South Africa's first black president. Michelle Bachelet easily won Chile's presidential runoff. Academy Award-winning actress Joan Fontaine, 96, died in Carmel, California. Harold Camping, 92, a California preacher who'd used his radio ministry and thousands of billboards to broadcast the end of the world and then gave up when his date-specific doomsdays did not come to pass, died in Oakland, California.
Today's Birthdays: Actor-comedian Tim Conway is 81. Singer Cindy Birdsong (The Supremes) is 75. Rock musician Dave Clark (The Dave Clark Five) is 72. Rock musician Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge) is 68. Actor Don Johnson is 65. Actress Melanie Chartoff is 64. Movie director Julie Taymor is 62. Movie director Alex Cox is 60. Actor Justin Ross is 60. Rock musician Paul Simonon (The Clash) is 59. Movie director John Lee Hancock (Film: Saving Mr. Banks; The Blind Side) is 58. DNC Vice Chairwoman Donna Brazile is 55. Country singer Doug Phelps (Brother Phelps; Kentucky Headhunters) is 54. Movie producer-director Reginald Hudlin is 53. Actress Helen Slater is 51. Actress Molly Price is 49. Actor Michael Shanks is 44. Actor Stuart Townsend is 42. Figure skater Surya Bonaly is 41. "Crowd-hyper" Kito Trawick (Ghostown DJs) is 37. Actor Adam Brody is 35. Actress Michelle Dockery (TV: Downton Abbey) is 33. Actor George O. Gore II is 32. Actress Camilla Luddington (TV: Grey's Anatomy) is 31. Rock musician Alana Haim is 23. Actress Stefania Owen is 17.
Thought for Today: "Silence is more musical than any song." - Christina Rossetti, British poet (1830-1874).