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What Happened on December 9?

  • The eradication of smallpox was certified. (1979) This marked the first eradication of any human disease. Before its eradication, smallpox claimed more than 300 million lives in the 20th century alone.

  • The separation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was announced. (1992) The two had been married for nine years, and reportedly split amicably. Diana retained her title as Princess of Wales, as well as her apartment in Kensington Palace.

  • Canada's Supreme Court proclaimed gay marriage to be legal and constitutional. (2004) Canada had become the fourth country in the world to officially legalize gay marriage nationwide with its passing of the Civil Marriage Act in 2005.

  • Operation Restore Hope begins in Somalia. (1992) American Marines stormed Mogadishu — the capital of Somalia — as the beginning of multi-national humanitarian aid effort. Their arrival in Mogadishu allowed UN aid workers to begin distributing food and other supplies in the famine-wracked country.

  • Child labor was outlawed in Germany. (1908) The German Reichstag passed a law forbidding those under the age of 13 to work. The American Fair Labor Standards Act, which contained the first strict laws on child labor, was declared constitutional 33 years later.

  • The law requiring the separation of church and state was passed in France. (1905) This established state secularism in France, and is one of the foundational matters in the French concept of laïcité, or secularized society.

  • Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped. (1963) The 19-year-old Sinatra (son of Frank Sinatra and Nancy Barbato) was kidnapped at gunpoint in his room at Harrah's Lake Tahoe, driven to Los Angeles in the trunk of a car, and finally released two days later after his father paid a $240,000 US Dollar (USD) ransom.

  • The first YMCA in North America was founded. (1851) The YMCA in Montreal, Quebec was the first "Y" of hundreds that would pop up in North America. Soon after the Montreal Y was erected, the first YMCA in America — the Boston YMCA — was established on December 29 of the same year.

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas premiered on television. (1965) More than 15 million homes tuned in to watch what has now become an American Christmas tradition. The movie was the first of nearly 50 Charlie Brown movies, and network executives thought it would be a huge flop because of its anti-commercial message and lack of canned laughter.

  • John Milton was born. (1608) Most famous for penning Paradise Lost, Milton was fluent in several languages, including Latin. By the time he wrote Paradise Lost he was practically blind, and had to dictate the poem to scribes.

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