U.S. Brig. Gen. McAuliffe rejects German demand for surrender during Battle of the Bulge in 1944

Today in History

Today is Friday, Dec. 22, the 356th day of 2017. There are nine days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 22, 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, U.S. Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe rejected a German demand for surrender, writing “Nuts!” in his official reply.

On this date:

In 1775, Esek Hopkins was appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy.

In 1894, French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggered worldwide charges of anti-Semitism. (Dreyfus was eventually vindicated.)

In 1910, a fire lasting more than 26 hours broke out at the Chicago Union Stock Yards; 21 firefighters were killed in the collapse of a burning building.

In 1917, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, who later became the first naturalized U.S. citizen to be canonized, died in Chicago at age 67.

In 1937, the first, center tube of the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New York City and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River was opened to traffic. (The second tube opened in 1945, the third in 1957.)

In 1940, author Nathanael West, 37, and his wife, Eileen McKenney, were killed in a car crash in El Centro, California, while en route to the funeral of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had died the day before.

In 1968, Julie Nixon married David Eisenhower in a private ceremony in New York.

In 1977, three dozen people were killed when a 250-foot-high grain elevator at the Continental Grain Company plant in Westwego, Louisiana, exploded.

In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, the last of Eastern Europe’s hard-line Communist rulers, was toppled from power in a popular uprising. Playwright Samuel Beckett died in Paris at age 83.

In 1991, the body of Marine Lt. Col. William R. Higgins, an American hostage slain by his terrorist captors, was recovered after it had been dumped along a highway in Lebanon.

In 2001, Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and fellow passengers. (Reid is serving a life sentence in federal prison.)

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law allowing gays for the first time in history to serve openly in America’s military, repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Ten years ago: A jury in Riverhead, New York, convicted John White, a black man, of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daniel Cicciaro, a white teenager, during a confrontation outside White’s house. (The 17-year-old was shot in the face after he showed up with two carloads of friends to confront White’s son after a dispute at a party. White, who said the shooting was an accident, was later sentenced to two to four years in prison, but had his sentence commuted by New York Gov. David Paterson after five months.)