The Battle of the Bulge ended. (1945) One of the largest battles of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge has the dubious distinction of being the bloodiest and most fatal battle in the war. There were several hundred thousand soldier casualties, and an additional about 3,000 civilian casualties.
The Cullinan diamond, one of the the world's largest diamonds, was found. (1905) The 3,106 carat diamond was discovered in South Africa on this day. Weighing about 1.3 pounds (almost 600 grams), the diamond was given as a birthday gift to the King of England, who had it cut into several large diamonds and placed in the crown jewels.
The first Emmy Awards ceremony was held. (1949) Despite a lack of support from Hollywood movie execs, the Emmys took off, and later became as respected as the Oscars. The first Emmy winner was Shirley Dinsdale, who hosted a ventriloquist show called Judy Splinters.
Idi Amin became the leader of Uganda. (1971) Amin deposed the previous Ugandan president through a military coup, and went on to become known for his capricious and cruel policies. His rule was characterized by incompetence, nepotism, paranoia, and human rights abuses.
US President Kennedy held the first live televised Presidential news conference. (1961) The conference consisted of Kennedy reading a prepared statement that addressed a famine in Africa and negotiations with Russia, among other things. Kennedy used his photogenic good looks to his advantage throughout his presidency, and set the standard for presidential appearances in the mass media.
The Norwegian Rocket Incident occurred. (1995) Russia almost launched a nuclear missile at a Norwegian research rocket after mistaking it for a US missile. The event highlighted remaining Cold War tensions, despite the fact that the war had officially ended four years earlier.
Jiang Qing, the wife of Mao Zedong, was sentenced to death. (1981) Qing was an actress before marrying Mao, but quickly became influential in Communist politics. She was instrumental in the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, and remained powerful after Mao's death as part of the Gang of Four before she and the other members of the Gang were put on trial for treason.
The first national monument in the US was commissioned. (1776) The Continental Congress authorized the first national monument in the US to honor Brigadier General Richard Montgomery, who had been killed in an attack on Quebec. The monument, which consisted of a bust of Montgomery, stood in New York for years before it was moved to the Bibliotheque Mazarine in Paris.
The first Winter Olympics occurred. (1924) The first Winter Olympics took place at Chamonix in the French Alps. There were a total of 12 events, including ski jumping and bobsledding.
The "Wedding March" was played at Queen Victoria's daughter's wedding. (1858) Mendelssohn's famous wedding recessional became extremely popular after being played in the wedding. It went on to become the iconic wedding song for most Western weddings in the 20 and 21st century.