Today In History

  • Friday, December 20, 2013 8:37pm
  • Life

Today is Saturday, Dec. 21, the 355th day of 2013. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 12:11 p.m. Eastern time.

Today’s highlight:

On Dec. 21, 1913, what’s regarded as the first newspaper crossword puzzle was published in the New York World. Created by journalist Arthur Wynne, it was billed as a “Word-Cross Puzzle.”

On this date:

In 1620, Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore for the first time at present-day Plymouth, Mass.

In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed a congressional act authorizing the Navy Medal of Honor.

In 1879, the Henrik Ibsen play “A Doll’s House” premiered at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen.

In 1910, 344 coal miners were killed in Britain’s Pretoria Pit Disaster.

In 1937, Walt Disney’s first feature-length animated cartoon, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” had its world premiere in Los Angeles.

In 1942, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Williams v. North Carolina, ruled 6-2 that all states had to recognize divorces granted in Nevada.

In 1945, Gen. George S. Patton died in Heidelberg, Germany, of injuries from a car accident.

In 1958, Charles de Gaulle was elected to a seven-year term as the first president of the Fifth Republic of France.

In 1968, Apollo 8 was launched on a mission to orbit the moon.

In 1971, the U.N. Security Council chose Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as Secretary-General.

In 1976, the Liberian-registered tanker Argo Merchant broke apart near Nantucket Island, off Massachusetts, almost a week after running aground, spilling 7.5 million gallons of oil into the North Atlantic.

In 1988, 270 people were killed when a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pam Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, sending wreckage crashing to the ground.

Ten years ago: The government raised the national threat level to orange, indicating a high risk of terrorist attack (it was lowered back to yellow on Jan. 9, 2004). More than 150 people were killed in mudslides in the Philippines. Soviet diplomat Oleg Troyanovsky died at age 84.

Five years ago: A multi-faith ceremony was held to mark the reopening of Mumbai, India’s Oberoi hotel three weeks after it was targeted in a militant rampage. Detroit became the first 0-15 team when it was routed 42-7 by the New Orleans Saints. Playwright Dale Wasserman, who’d written the book for the Tony-winning musical “Man of La Mancha,” died in Paradise Valley, Ariz. at age 94.

One year ago: The National Rifle Association said guns and police officers in all American schools were needed to stop the next killer “waiting in the wings,” taking a no-retreat stance in the face of growing calls for gun control after the Newtown, Conn., shootings that claimed the lives of 26 children and school staff. President Barack Obama nominated Sen. John Kerry as his next secretary of state. Gymnast Gabby Douglas, the teenager who became the first African-American to win an all-around Olympic title, won the AP’s Female Athlete of the Year.

Associated Press

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