Today in History

Today is Sunday, Dec. 4, the 338th day of 2011. There are 27 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 4, 1783, Gen. George Washington bade farewell to his Continental Army officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York, telling them, "With a heart full of love and gratitude I now take leave of you."

On this date:

In 1619, settlers from Bristol, England, arrived at Berkeley Hundred in present-day Charles City County, Va.

In 1816, James Monroe of Virginia was elected the fifth president of the United States.

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson left Washington on a trip to France to attend the Versailles Peace Conference.

In 1942, U.S. bombers struck the Italian mainland for the first time in World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the dismantling of the Works Progress Administration, which had been created to provide jobs during the Depression.

In 1965, the United States launched Gemini 7 with Air Force Lt. Col. Frank Borman and Navy Cmdr. James A. Lovell aboard.

In 1978, San Francisco got its first female mayor as City Supervisor Dianne Feinstein was named to replace the assassinated George Moscone.

In 1984, a five-day hijack drama began as four armed men seized a Kuwaiti airliner en route to Pakistan and forced it to land in Tehran, where the hijackers killed American passenger Charles Hegna.

In 1986, both houses of Congress moved to establish special committees to conduct their own investigations of the Iran-Contra affair.

In 1991, Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson, the longest held of the Western hostages in Lebanon, was released after nearly seven years in captivity. Pan American World Airways ceased operations.

In 1996, the Mars Pathfinder lifted off from Cape Canaveral and began speeding toward Mars on a 310 million-mile odyssey. (It arrived on Mars in July 1997.)

Ten years ago: Stepping up reprisals for suicide bombings by Palestinian militants, Israel unleashed air strikes; three missiles hit near Yasser Arafat's office as the Palestinian leader worked inside. The United States froze the financial assets of organizations allegedly linked to Hamas, the group that claimed responsibility for recent deadly suicide attacks in Israel. The Olympic flame began a 46-state, two-month journey from Atlanta, host city of the 1996 Summer Games, to the opening ceremony of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

Five years ago: Lacking the Senate votes to keep his job, embattled U.N. Ambassador John Bolton offered his resignation to President George W. Bush, who accepted it. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was convicted in the Philippines of raping a Filipino woman and sentenced to 40 years in prison. (However, a Philippine appeals court overturned the conviction in April 2009; Smith, who was in U.S. custody, left the country.) Truck driver Tyrone Williams was convicted at his retrial in Houston of the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants crammed into a sweltering tractor-trailer. (Williams initially received multiple life sentences, but was later resentenced to nearly 34 years in prison.) NASA announced plans to build an international base camp on the Moon.

One year ago: President Barack Obama praised a newly sealed trade deal with South Korea as a landmark agreement that promised to boost the domestic auto industry and support tens of thousands of American jobs.

Today's Birthdays: Actress-singer Deanna Durbin is 90. Game show host Wink Martindale is 78. Pop singer Freddy Cannon is 75. Actor-producer Max Baer Jr. is 74. Actress Gemma Jones is 69. Rock musician Bob Mosley (Moby Grape) is 69. Singer-musician Chris Hillman is 67. Musician Terry Woods (The Pogues) is 64. Rock singer Southside Johnny Lyon is 63. Actor Jeff Bridges is 62. Rock musician Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd; the Rossington Collins Band) is 60. Actress Patricia Wettig is 60. Actor Tony Todd is 57. Jazz singer Cassandra Wilson is 56. Country musician Brian Prout (Diamond Rio) is 56. Rock musician Bob Griffin (The BoDeans) is 52. Rock singer Vinnie Dombroski (Sponge) is 49. Actress Marisa Tomei is 47. Actress Chelsea Noble is 47. Actor-comedian Fred Armisen is 45. Rapper Jay-Z is 42. Actor Kevin Sussman is 41. Actress-model Tyra Banks is 38. Country singer Lila McCann is 30. Actress Lindsay Felton is 27. Actor Orlando Brown is 24.

Thought for Today: "People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it." -- Ogden Nash, American humorist and poet (1902-1972).

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.