Devastating Blaze Guts Library Of Congress On This Day

Today in 1818, Franz Gruber of Oberndorff, Germany,composed the music for "Silent Night" to words written by Josef Mohr. The same night, it was performed for the first time, at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorff, Austria.

Today in 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington DC, destroying about 35,000 volumes.

Today in 1867, Macy’s department store in New York City remained open until midnight to catch last-minute shoppers –they were the first store to do so. The store took in a record $6,000.

Today in 1948, for the first time, a midnight Mass was broadcast on television. It was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Today in 1968, while orbiting the moon,the astronauts aboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft read passages from the Old Testament as part of a Christmas Eve broadcast to Earth from space.

Today in 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds– one second for each day of captivity.

Today in 1998,most of California's citrus crop was considered ruined after three straight nights of freezing cold.

Today in 2000,the "Texas 7," seven convicts that had escaped a Texas prison, robbed a sports store in Irving, Texas. The suspects killed Officer Aubrey Hawkins, stole $70,000, 25 weapons and clothing. The men, who had escaped on December 13th were on the run for six frantic weeks. After a massive manhunt with a significant reward that had only turned up dead ends, a tip came in from someone who had seen the gang on the "America's Most Wanted" show. Authorities arrested four of the seven prisoners in Woodland Park, Colorado and a fifth inmate shot himself to death during police negotiations. Immediately intensifying the search for the last two heavily armed and dangerous prisoners, police and FBI closed in on them at a Holiday Inn in Colorado Springs just two days following the previous arrests.

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