Today is Wednesday, Dec. 31, the 365th and final day of 2014.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 31, 1904, New York’s Times Square saw its first New Year’s Eve celebration, with an estimated 200,000 people in attendance.
On this date:
In 1514, physician Andreas Vesalius, who wrote and illustrated the first comprehensive books on human anatomy, was born in Brussels.
In 1775, during the Revolutionary War, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.
In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
In 1909, the Manhattan Bridge, spanning the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, was officially opened to vehicular traffic.
In 1946, President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
In 1951, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.
In 1969, Joseph A. Yablonski, an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of the United Mine Workers of America, was shot to death with his wife and daughter in their Clarksville, Pennsylvania, home by hitmen acting at the orders of UMWA president Tony Boyle.
In 1972, Major League baseball player Roberto Clemente, 38, was killed when a plane he’d chartered and was traveling on to bring relief supplies to earthquake-devastated Nicaragua crashed shortly after takeoff from Puerto Rico.
In 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year’s Eve performance in Dallas.
In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)
In 1999, Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation (he was succeeded by Vladimir Putin).
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush pledged $350 million to help tsunami victims, and didn’t rule out sending even more U.S. aid to help people recover from what he called an “epic disaster.” Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych (yah-noo-KOH’-vich) resigned, admitting he had little hope of reversing the presidential election victory of his Western-leaning rival, Viktor Yushchenko (yoo-SHEN’-koh). Taiwan celebrated the official opening of what was then the world’s tallest skyscraper, known as “Taipei 101.”
Five years ago: A lone gunman dressed in black killed five people in Espoo, Finland, four of them at a crowded shopping mall, before returning home and taking his own life.
One year ago: Only hours before the law was to take effect, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, acting on a request from an organization of Catholic nuns in Denver, blocked implementation of part of President Barack Obama’s health care law that would have forced some religion-affiliated organizations to provide health insurance for employees that included birth control. Character actor James Avery, who’d played the Honorable Philip Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” died in Glendale, California, at age 68. Radio host Bob Grant, 84, died in Hillsborough, New Jersey.
Today’s Birthdays: TV producer George Schlatter is 85. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 77. Actor Tim Considine (TV: “My Three Sons”) is 74. Actress Sarah Miles is 73. Rock musician Andy Summers is 72. Actor Sir Ben Kingsley is 71. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 70. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 68. Actor Tim Matheson is 67. Pop singer Burton Cummings is 67. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 66. Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) is 63. Actor James Remar is 61. Actress Bebe Neuwirth is 56. Actor Val Kilmer is 55. Singer Paul Westerberg is 55. Actor Don Diamont is 52. Rock musician Ric Ivanisevich (Oleander) is 52. Rock musician Scott Ian (Anthrax) is 51. Actress Gong Li is 49. Author Nicholas Sparks is 49. Actor Lance Reddick is 45. Pop singer Joey McIntyre is 42. Rock musician Mikko Siren (Apocalyptica) is 39. Rapper PSY (Park Jae-sang) is 37. Rock musician Bob Bryar is 35. Actor/singer Erich Bergen (Film/stage: “Jersey Boys”) is 29. Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas is 19.
Thought for Today: “Though the past haunt me as a spirit, I do not ask to forget.” — Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans, English poet (1793-1835).