Today is Wednesday, Dec. 19, the 354th day of 2012. There are 12 days left in the year.
On Dec. 19, 1972, Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific, winding up the Apollo program of manned lunar landings.
On this date:
In 1777, Gen. George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, Pa., to camp for the winter.
In 1813, British forces captured Fort Niagara during the War of 1812.
In 1843, “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, was first published in England.
In 1910, the artificial fiber rayon was first commercially produced by the American Viscose Co. of Marcus Hook, Pa.
In 1932, the British Broadcasting Corp. began transmitting overseas with its Empire Service to Australia.
In 1946, war broke out in Indochina as troops under Ho Chi Minh launched widespread attacks against the French.
In 1950, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was named commander of the military forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
In 1961, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., 73, suffered a debilitating stroke while in Palm Beach, Fla.
In 1971, “A Clockwork Orange,” Stanley Kubrick’s controversial movie adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel, had its world premiere in the U.S.
In 1984, a fire at the Wilberg Mine near Orangeville, Utah, killed 27 people. Britain and China signed an accord returning Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.
In 1986, Lawrence E. Walsh was appointed independent counsel to investigate the Iran-Contra affair.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republican-controlled House for perjury and obstruction of justice (he was later acquitted by the Senate).
Ten years ago: Secretary of State Colin Powell declared Iraq in “material breach” of a U.N. disarmament resolution. After a prosecutor cited new DNA evidence, a judge in New York threw out the convictions of five young men from Harlem in a 1989 attack on a Central Park jogger who’d been raped and left for dead. Roh Moo-hyun won South Korea’s presidential election.
Five years ago: President George W. Bush signed legislation increasing fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles and requiring wider use of ethanol. An explosion and fire at a chemical plant in Jacksonville, Fla., killed four workers. An express train derailed in southern Pakistan, killing at least 40 people. Former Hyundai CEO Lee Myung-bak won South Korea’s presidency. Rescuers found Frederick Dominguez and his three children, who had been lost in the mountains for three days during a snowstorm, alive in a northern California ravine.
One year ago: North Korea announced the death of leader Kim Jong Il, two days after he died; North Koreans marched by the thousands to mourn their “Dear Leader” while state media proclaimed his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, a “Great Successor.” Paroled American Lori Berenson, who stirred international controversy after being convicted of aiding Peruvian guerrillas, left on a flight to the United States for her first visit back home since Peruvian authorities arrested her in 1995.