Today is Sunday, Dec. 21, the 355th day of 2014. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 6:03 p.m. Eastern time.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 21, 1864, during the Civil War, Union forces led by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman concluded their “March to the Sea,” which had begun in Atlanta on Nov. 15 and ended with the capture of Savannah, Georgia.
On this date:
In 1620, Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore for the first time at present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.
In 1879, the Henrik Ibsen play “A Doll’s House” premiered at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen.
In 1913, the first newspaper crossword puzzle, billed as a “Word-Cross Puzzle,” was published in the New York World.
In 1914, the first feature-length silent film comedy, Mack Sennett’s “Tillie’s Punctured Romance,” starring Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand and Charlie Chaplin, premiered. The U.S. government began requiring passport applicants to provide photographs of themselves.
In 1937, Walt Disney’s first animated feature, “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: A suicide bombing at a mess hall tent near Mosul, Iraq, killed 22 people, including 14 U.S. service members and three American contractors. Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, 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.
Five years ago: President Barack Obama hailed a crucial, early-morning test vote in the Senate on his health care overhaul, in which all 58 Democrats and two independents held together against unanimous Republican opposition. The Obama administration imposed a 3-hour limit on how long airlines can keep passengers waiting inside planes delayed on the ground. A Russian rocket blasted off from Kazakhstan, shuttling an American, a Russian and a Japanese to the International Space Station.
One year ago: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper declassified more documents outlining how the National Security Agency was first authorized to start collecting bulk phone and Internet records in the hunt for al-Qaida terrorists and how a court eventually gained oversight of the program. Gunfire hit three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens in a remote region of South Sudan that had become a battleground between the country’s military and renegade troops. Edgar M. Bronfman Sr., 84, the billionaire businessman and longtime president of the World Jewish Congress, died in New York.
Today’s Birthdays: Country singer Freddie Hart is 88. Talk show host Phil Donahue is 79. Movie director John Avildsen is 79. Actress Jane Fonda is 77. Actor Larry Bryggman is 76. Singer Carla Thomas is 72. Musician Albert Lee is 71. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is 70. Actor Josh Mostel is 68. Actor Samuel L. Jackson is 66. Movie producer Jeffrey Katzenberg is 64. Singer Betty Wright is 61. International Tennis Hall-of-Famer Chris Evert is 60. Actress Jane Kaczmarek is 59. Country singer Lee Roy Parnell is 58. Entertainer Jim Rose is 58. Actor-comedian Ray Romano is 57. Country singer Christy Forester (The Forester Sisters) is 52. Rock musician Murph (The Lemonheads; Dinosaur Jr.) is 50. Actor-comedian Andy Dick is 49. Rock musician Gabrielle Glaser is 49. Actress Michelle Hurd is 48. Actor Kiefer Sutherland is 48. Actress Karri Turner is 48. Actress Khrystyne Haje is 46. Country singer Brad Warren (The Warren Brothers) is 46. Actress Julie Delpy is 45. Country singer-musician Rhean Boyer (Carolina Rain) is 44. Contemporary Christian singer Natalie Grant is 43. Actor Glenn Fitzgerald is 43. Singer-musician Brett Scallions is 43. Rock singer Lukas Rossi (Rock Star Supernova) is 38. Rock musician Anna Bulbrook (Airborne Toxic Event) is 32. Country singer Luke Stricklin is 32. Actor Steven Yeun is 31. Actress Kaitlyn Dever (TV: “Last Man Standing”) is 18.
Thought for Today: “Winter comes but once a year, And when it comes it brings the doctor good cheer.” — Ogden Nash, American humorist (1902-1971).