Today in History - Dec. 21

AP News
Posted: Dec 21, 2009 12:02 AM

Today is Monday, Dec. 21, the 355th day of 2009. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 12:47 p.m. EST.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 21, 1620, Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore for the first time at present-day Plymouth, Mass.

On this date:

In 1804, British statesman Benjamin Disraeli was born in London.

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

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

In 1948, the state of Eire, or Ireland, passed an act declaring itself a republic.

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 1969, Vince Lombardi coached his last football game as his team, the Washington Redskins, lost to the Dallas Cowboys 20-10.

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: Amid heightened concerns about the possibility of a holiday terrorist attack, security was ordered tightened at American airports and the Pentagon said it was taking "appropriate action" to protect U.S. forces overseas.

Five years ago: A suicide bombing at a mess hall tent near Mosul, Iraq, killed 22 people, including 14 U.S. service members and three American contractors. Two French reporters held hostage for four months in Iraq were released. The Associated Press told the Bowl Championship Series to stop using its college football poll to determine which teams would play for the national title and in the most prestigious bowl games. The NFL fined Jacksonville safety Donovin Darius $75,000 for a hit across the neck of Green Bay's Robert Ferguson that left the wide receiver temporarily paralyzed.

One year ago: A multi-faith ceremony was held to mark the reopening of the Oberoi hotel in Mumbai, India, 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.

Today's Birthdays: Country singer Freddie Hart is 83. Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno is 83. Actor Ed Nelson is 81. Talk show host Phil Donahue is 74. Movie director John Avildsen is 74. Actress Jane Fonda is 72. Actor Larry Bryggman is 71. Singer Carla Thomas is 67. Musician Albert Lee is 66. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is 65. Actor Josh Mostel is 63. Actor Samuel L. Jackson is 61. Movie producer Jeffrey Katzenberg is 59. Singer Betty Wright is 56. Tennis Hall-of-Famer Chris Evert is 55. Actress Jane Kaczmarek is 54. Country singer Lee Roy Parnell is 53. Entertainer Jim Rose is 53. Actor-comedian Ray Romano is 52. Country singer Christy Forester (The Forester Sisters) is 47. Rock musician Murph (The Lemonheads; Dinosaur Jr.) is 45. Actor-comedian Andy Dick is 44. Rock musician Gabrielle Glaser is 44. Actor Kiefer Sutherland ("24") is 43. Actress Karri Turner is 43. Actress Khrystyne Haje is 41. Country singer Brad Warren (The Warren Brothers) is 41. Actress Julie Delpy is 40. Country singer-musician Rhean Boyer (Carolina Rain) is 39. Contemporary Christian singer Natalie Grant is 38. Actor Glenn Fitzgerald is 38. Singer-musician Brett Scallions is 38. Rock singer Lukas Rossi (Rock Star Supernova) is 33. Country singer Luke Stricklin is 27.

Thought for Today: "The time will come when winter will ask us: 'What were you doing all the summer?'" _ Bohemian proverb.