Year
1964

South Vietnamese win costly battle at Binh Gia

South Vietnamese troops retake Binh Gia in a costly battle. The Viet Cong launched a major offensive on December 4 and took the village of Binh Gia, 40 miles southeast of Saigon. The South Vietnamese forces recaptured the village, but only after an eight-hour battle and three battalions of reinforcements were brought in on helicopters. The operation continued into the first week of January. Losses included an estimated 200 South Vietnamese and five U.S. advisors killed, plus 300 more South Vietnamese wounded or missing. Battles such this, in which the South Vietnamese suffered such heavy losses at the hands of the Viet Cong, convinced President Lyndon B. Johnson that the South Vietnamese could not defeat the communist without the commitment of U.S. ground troops to the war.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Worst European earthquake

At dawn, the most destructive earthquake in recorded European history strikes the Straits of Messina in southern Italy, leveling the cities of Messina in Sicily and Reggio di Calabria on the Italian mainland. The earthquake and tsunami it caused killed an estimated 100,000 ...read more

Dubcek returns to public office

Alexander Dubcek, former Czechoslovak leader and architect of the “Prague Spring,” is elected chairman of the new multiparty Czechoslovak parliament. It was the first time Dubcek held public office since being deprived of Communist Party membership in 1970.The trend toward ...read more

Calhoun resigns vice presidency

Citing political differences with President Andrew Jackson and a desire to fill a vacant Senate seat in South Carolina, John C. Calhoun becomes the first vice president in U.S. history to resign the office.Born near Abbeville, South Carolina, in 1782, Calhoun was an advocate of ...read more

America’s first Labor Day

The Knights of Labor, a labor union of tailors in Philadelphia, hold the first Labor Day ceremonies in American history. The Knights of Labor was established as a secret society of Pennsylvanian tailors earlier in the year and later grew into a national body that played an ...read more

First commercial movie screened

On this day in 1895, the world’s first commercial movie screening takes place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two French brothers who developed a camera-projector called the Cinematographe. The Lumiere brothers unveiled their invention ...read more

Central Red Army defeats New York Rangers at MSG

On this day in 1975, a crowd of 17,500 ice hockey fans watch HC CSKA (also called the Central Red Army) from the Soviet Union defeat the New York Rangers 7-3 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The game marked the kick-off of the first so-called “Super Series”–a series of ...read more

Woodrow Wilson born in Staunton, Virginia

On this day in 1856, future President Woodrow Wilson is born in Staunton, Virginia. He attended private schools and graduated from Princeton University in 1879 before studying law at the University of Virginia and earning his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He was hired by ...read more

Carry Nation attacks a Kansas saloon

Convinced that her righteous campaign against alcohol justified her aggressive tactics, Carry Nation attacks a saloon in Wichita, Kansas, shattering a large mirror behind the bar and throwing rocks at a titillating painting of Cleopatra bathing.Carry Nation’s lifelong battle ...read more

Argentine novelist Manuel Puig is born

On this day in 1932, Manuel Puig is born in a small village in Argentina.Puig grew up entranced by American movies and pop culture, spending many hours watching films or fantasizing about glamorous movie stars. In 1946, he went to boarding school in Buenos Aires, then attended ...read more

Denzel Washington born

On this day in 1954, the Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, who will go on to star in such movies as Malcolm X and Training Day, is born in Mount Vernon, New York. In 2002, for his performance as a corrupt cop in Training Day, Washington became the first black man to win the ...read more

Earthquake rocks Sicily

An earthquake in Sicily kills over 100,000 people and destroys several towns on this day in 1908. The 7.5-magnitude tremor off the coast of the large island was also responsible for deaths on the Italian mainland.Sicily is situated near the spot where the European and African ...read more

An American hero is arrested in France

Thomas Paine is arrested in France for treason. Though the charges against him were never detailed, he had been tried in absentia on December 26 and convicted. Before moving to France, Paine was an instrumental figure in the American Revolution as the author of Common Sense, ...read more

William Booth Taliaferro born

On this day in 1822, Confederate General William Taliaferro is born in Gloucester County, Virginia. Taliaferro served under General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson for the first part of the war,and spent the second half preparing coastal defenses in the lower South. Taliaferro ...read more