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This Day In History Dec. 31

  • 1849 Dry cleaning is accidentally discovered when a tailor tips over a lamp containing turpentine and oil on his clothing and notices it had a cleaning effect.
  • 1869 William Finley Semple patents chewing gum.
  • 1895 Filmmakers the Lumiere brothers, hold the first commercial film screening at Salon Indien du Grand Café, Paris.
  • 1945 Congress officially recognizes the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • 1959 “Why” by Frankie Avalon peaks at No. 1.
  • 1963 Merle Haggard makes his first appearance on country charts with “Sing a Sad Song.”
  • 1968 The Beatles’ “White Album” goes No. 1 and stays there for 9 weeks.
  • 1974 “Angie Baby” by Helen Reddy peaks at No. 1.
  • 1974 “What A Man, My Man Is” by Lynn Anderson peaks at No. 1.
  • 1981 Elizabeth Jordan Carr, the first American test-tube baby, is born in Norfolk, Virginia.
  • 1983 Dennis Wilson, 39, of The Beach Boys drowns while swimming in Marina Del Ray, California.
  • 1985 “Have Mercy” by The Judds peaks at No. 1.
  • 1993 Billy Ray Cyrus marries Leticia Finley.
  • 1993 Shania Twain marries producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange.
  • 2002 “She’ll Leave You With A Smile” by George Strait peaks at No. 1.
  • 2005 Barry Cowsill, 51, is found dead nearly four months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
  • 2009 Avenged Sevenfold drummer James Owen Sullivan dies at age 28.
  • 2012 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin divorces Lois Driggs Cannon due to irreconcilable differences after 23 years of marriage.
  • 2012 Vladimir Putin signs into law a ban on U.S. adoption of Russian children.
  • 2015 Lemmy [Ian Kilmister] of Motörhead dies from terminal illness at 70.
  • 2016 Actress Debbie Reynolds dies of a stroke at 84 one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher passes away.
  • 2017 Actress Rose Marie [Mazzetta] (The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Doris Day Show), dies at 94.
  • 2017 Author Sue Grafton (“A” Is for Alibi), dies at 77.

Today Asarah B’Tevet – Card Playing Day – Endangered Species Act Day – Holy Innocents Day – National Chocolate Day – Pledge of Allegiance Day

Holiday Spotlight
Today is Pledge of Allegiance Day. Congress formally recognized the Pledge of Allegiance on December 28, 1945. Thought to have been written by Francis Bellamy, the Pledge of Allegiance was published anonymously by a magazine for young people, The Youth’s Companion, and was written in celebration of the 400th anniversary, in 1892, of the discovery of America.

The text of the pledge, as originally written and modified a bit by the National Flag Conference in 1923 and 1924, was inserted into this legislation, but without designating it as the official pledge. In its original form, it read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The small changes made resulted in this version: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The words “under God” were added by Congress on June 14, 1954, in response to the anti-Communist opinion sweeping the country during the Cold War.