TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1864, Union Gen. William T. Sherman sent a message to President Abraham Lincoln that read, "I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah." In 1990, Lech Walesa was sworn in as Poland's first directly elected president. In 2001, the first cloned cat was born at Texas A&M University. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the repeal of the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), composer; Connie Mack (1862-1956), baseball manager; Peggy Ashcroft (1907-1991), actress; Lady Bird Johnson (1912-2007), first lady; Barbara Billingsley (1915-2010), actress; Steve Carlton (1944- ), baseball player; Diane Sawyer (1945- ), journalist; Maurice Gibb (1949-2003), singer-songwriter; Robin Gibb (1949-2012), singer-songwriter; Ralph Fiennes (1962- ), actor; Ted Cruz (1970- ), politician; Anthony Jeselnik (1978- ), comedian; Jordin Sparks (1989- ), singer; Meghan Trainor (1993- ), singer-songwriter.
TODAY'S FACT: The five Great Lakes hold about 21 percent of all the fresh water on Earth.
TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (Dec. 17) and first quarter moon (Dec. 26).