A Blast from the Past

By United Press International

`Today is Dec. 16.

This is the anniversary of the colonial guerrilla action that became known as the Boston Tea Party. On this date in 1773, some 50 American patriots, protesting the British tax on tea, dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston harbor. The British were not amused.


The Battle of the Bulge began on this date in 1944. Taking advantage of foggy, rainy weather, Germany launched a great counter-offensive against the Allies in the French Ardennes Forest -- knowing the lousy conditions would minimize an aerial counterattack. The Nazis were able to penetrate 65 miles through Allied lines before being stopped.

It was on this date in 1998 that U.S. and British jetfighters began a four-night campaign of air attacks on more than 100 Iraqi military targets. The action -- long threatened -- came after the allies concluded Iraq would not cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.


On this date in 1835, a fire swept New York City, razing 600 buildings and causing $20 million damage.

A Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was elected president of Haiti on this date in 1990. It was the Caribbean island nation's first fully free vote since the 1986 fall of the "Baby Doc" Duvalier regime. Aristide would be toppled by a military coup within a year. That military government stepped down in 1994 upon threat of a U.S. military invasion. Aristide was re-elected president in 2000.

A major stumbling block in achieving peace in the Middle East was removed on this date in 1991, when the U.N. General Assembly repealed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. The vote was 111-25, with many of the "yes" votes coming from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

On this date in 1997, more than 700 children in Japan were hospitalized after an episode of the "Pokemon" TV show triggered a condition called "light epilepsy" or "Nintendo epilepsy," which is caused by intense flashes of light viewed from close to the source.

Also in 1997, the highest wind speed ever measured -- 236 mph -- was recorded at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam as Typhoon Paka slammed into the Pacific island.


And Anton Dvorak's "New World Symphony" premiered at New York's newly built Carnegie Hall on this date in 1893. The symphony contains snatches from black spirituals and American folk music, Dvorak, a Bohemian, had been in the United States for only a year when he composed it as a greeting to his friends in Europe.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.


Today is Dec. 17.

A year ago on this date, U.S. officials said the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden were unknown but they believed they had destroyed his al-Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan. However, it became clear in a few days that hundreds of bin Laden's men were escaping through the mountains into Pakistan.

The first documented successful powered and controlled flights of an airplane took place on this date in 1903. Orville and Wilbur Wright - brothers, bicycle shop operators and inventors -- made history after three years of experimentation. First one brother, then the other, soared over the sand dunes near Kitty Hawk, N.C. Orville Wright made the first flight, lasting 12 seconds and covering 120 feet. Brother Wilbur flew 852 feet later that day. North Carolina's license plates include the phrase: "First In Flight."


U.S. Brig. Gen. James Dozier was kidnapped in Rome by members of the Italian terrorist group the Red Brigades on this date in 1981. He was freed 42 days later in a raid by Italian anti-terrorist forces.

It was on this date in 1994 that North Korea announced it had shot down a U.S. Army helicopter in North Korean airspace, killing one pilot. The second pilot was reportedly uninjured but was being held by North Korea. The incident sparked a diplomatic crisis that ended when North Korea turned over the surviving American pilot to South Korea.

Court action on this date in 1986:

A federal jury in Detroit cleared automaker John DeLorean of all 15 charges in his fraud and racketeering trial. DeLorean had been accused of using his Belfast, Northern Ireland-based sports car company to launder drug profits. The DeLorean Motor Car Co. did not survive the controversy surrounding its founder.

In Las Vegas, a federal jury awarded entertainer Wayne Newton $19.3 million in his defamation suit against NBC. A judge later reduced the award to $5.3 million.

Army Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell, outspoken advocate of a separate U.S. Air Force, was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the good of the armed services on this date in 1925. Mitchell would be awarded the Medal of Honor 20 years after his death.


And it was on this date in 1997 that New Jersey became the first state in the United States to permit homosexual couples to adopt children.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.


Today is Dec. 18.

The United States resumed heavy bombing and mining operations against North Vietnam on this date in 1972 after the communists refused to agree to end the war. The renewed offensive apparently worked: on Jan. 27, 1973, the U.S. and North Vietnamese governments and the Viet Cong signed a peace accord in Paris ending American involvement in the conflict.

A rash of racially motivated bombing incidents in the South claimed a victim on this date in 1989, when a pipe bomb killed Savannah, Ga., City Councilman Robert Robinson. The blast occurred just hours after a pipe bomb had been discovered at the Atlanta federal courthouse.

South Koreans went to the polls to elect longtime leftist opposition leader Kim Dae Jong president on this date in 1997. It marked the first time in the nation's history that a member of the opposition had defeated a candidate of the New Korea Party and its predecessors. Dae Jong won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his work in promoting reconciliation with North Korea.


Wedding bells at the White House. On this date in 1915, President Woodrow Wilson, a widower for one year, married the widow Edith Bolling Galt. Later in his presidency, after Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke, his wife and his doctor in effect ran the country -- a fact that didn't become general knowledge for many years.

Also on this date in 1969, singer Tiny Tim, 44, wed 17-year-old Miss Vicky Budinger on NBC's "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson." The ukelele-strumming Tim had had a hit a few years earlier with "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips." The marriage, by the way, did not last.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.


Today is Dec. 19.

President Clinton became only the second U.S. president to be impeached on this date in 1998, when the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment -- charging him with perjury and obstruction of justice. The allegations stemmed from the actions he took to conceal his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was then tried by the Senate in January 1999, and on Feb. 11, 1999, he was acquitted on both charges.


Also on this date in 1998, House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston, R-La, announced he would not be a candidate for the leadership post and, in fact, would be leaving Congress. Two days earlier, Livingston had admitted he'd had extra-marital affairs "on occasion."

The prime ministers of Britain and China signed an accord on this date in 1984, returning Hong Kong -- at the time a British territory -- to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, upon expiration of the 99-year lease.

The first radio voice broadcast from space took place on this date in 1958. The U.S. satellite Atlas transmitted a 58-word recorded Christmas greeting from President Eisenhower, "to all mankind America's wish for peace and goodwill toward men everywhere." The satellite had been launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Dec. 18.

In another space milestone: on this date in 1972, the splashdown of Apollo XVII ended America's manned moon exploration program.

In 1912, after three years of digging in the Piltdown gravel pit in Sussex, England, amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson discovered two skulls that appeared to belong to a primitive hominid and ancestor of man. He also found a canine tooth, a tool carved from an elephant's tusk and remains of other prehistoric animals.


And it was on this date in 1997 that the motion picture "Titanic" opened in U.S. theaters to generally favorable reviews. The movie, which made a star out of Leonardo DiCaprio, would set box office records and win a record-tying 11 Oscars the following March.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.


Today is Dec. 20.

"Operation Just Cause" began on this date in 1989 when the United States invaded Panama to oust Manuel Noriega and install the duly elected civilian government. 23 U.S. troops were killed in the military action. Noriega initially eluded capture, however, and sought refuge in the Vatican Embassy in Panama City. He surrendered to U.S. troops on Jan. 4, 1990, after the American soldiers surrounding the embassy blasted it day and night with rock music.

Noriega was brought to the United States, where he was tried and convicted on drug trafficking charges and sent to a federal prison in Florida.

It was one of history's greatest real estate deals. On this date in 1803, the United States formally took over the more than 1 million square miles of territory acquired from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase. This almost doubled the size of the United States and extended the U.S. western border to the Rocky Mountains.


Sacagawea, the young Shoshone Indian woman who guided the Lewis and Clark Expedition on its exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, died on this date in 1812. It's been said the expedition could not have succeeded without Sacagawea's help. Few facts about her life are known, and some legends have her living to near 100 years of age.

The Montgomery, Ala., public bus boycott officially ended on this date in 1956 about a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the integration of the city's transit system. The boycott had been called in reaction to the Dec. 1, 1955, arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man.

Union Gen. William T. Sherman completed his "march to the sea" across the South and arrived in Savannah, Ga., on this date in 1864. Sherman had torched Atlanta and lay waste to much of Georgia during his march. But he spared Savannah, and two days after arriving, he would send President Lincoln this message: "I beg to present you as a Christmas present the city of Savannah."

Nearly 1,600 people died in the Philippines on this date in 1987 when a passenger ferry was struck by an oil tanker and sank. It was the 20th century's worst peacetime maritime disaster.


It was on this date in 1999 that Macau, on the southeast coast of China, reverted back to Chinese rule. Macau had been a Portuguese colony since 1557.

University of Chicago physics professor Albert Michelson became the first U.S. scientist to receive the Nobel Prize on this date in 1907.

It was on this date in 1998 that a Houston woman gave birth to seven more babies after delivering the first infant 12 days earlier. They were the only known set of octuplets to be born alive in the United States. The smallest baby died a week later.

Longtime Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley died on this date in 1976 at age 74. Daley had been in office so long that a store in Bridgeport, the Southside Chicago neighborhood he called home, had a neon sign in its window that read, "Re-Elect Daley."

And it was on this date in 1995 that Buckingham Palace confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II had sent letters to her son, Prince Charles, and his estranged wife, Princess Diana, urging them to seek a divorce as quickly as possible. The couple had separated in 1992, and their divorce would be granted in August 1996.


We now return you to the present, already in progress.


Today is Dec. 21.

Death rained from the Scottish skies on this date in 1988. A bomb planted by terrorists caused Pam Am Flight 103 to explode in midair and crash to the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland -- killing everyone aboard and 11 people on the ground for a total death toll of 270.

The tragedy raised questions about security and the notification of passengers in the event of threatened flights. The resulting investigation revealed that government agencies and the airline knew the flight was possibly the target of terrorists.

It was on this date in 1620 that the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth, Mass., following a 63-day voyage from England aboard the Mayflower. Plymouth Rock -- the legendary landing site first identified as such in 1769 -- has been an historic shrine ever since.

A space milestone: on this date in 1968, Apollo VIII -- the first manned voyage to the Moon -- was launched from Cape Kennedy, Fla. Col. Frank Borman, Capt. James Lovell and Major William Anders orbited the Moon on Christmas Eve and returned to Earth three days later. They were the first humans to orbit the Moon and see the far side of the Moon.


In a case that highlighted racial tensions, three young white men were convicted on this date in 1987 of manslaughter in an attack on a black man in New York's predominantly white Howard Beach section. The victim had been hit by a car and killed after being chased onto a busy highway.

A Kentucky man, Larry Mahoney, was convicted on this date in 1989 on 27 counts of manslaughter in 1988 collision with church bus. It was the nation's deadliest drunken-driving accident.

The first crossword puzzle in an American newspaper was compiled by Arthur Wynne and published in The New York Sunday World on this date in 1913.

And on this date in 1937, Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" , the first full-length animated feature film, opened in Los Angeles.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.


Today is Dec. 22.

On this date in 2001, as bit over three months after the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, passengers aboard an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami became alarmed over a fellow passenger trying to light his shoe. With the help of attendants, they overpowered the man who, as it turned out, was trying to use a match to detonate powerful explosives hidden in his sneakers.


Bernie Goetz became a household word for something he did on this date in 1984. The apparently mild-mannered engineer shot and wounded four black youths he said were about to rob him on a New York City subway. Goetz -- who became known in the media as the "subway vigilante" -- ended up serving eight months in prison for carrying an illegal weapon, but was cleared of assault and attempted murder charges.

An estimated 5,000 people were killed on this date in 1972 when a series of earthquakes left the Nicaraguan capital of Managua in ruins.

Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, the last hard-line communist holdout against East Bloc reforms, fell from power in the face of continuing massive demonstrations on this date in 1989. On Christmas Day, he and his wife were executed.

This is the birthday of the U.S. Navy. On this date in 1785, the American Continental Navy fleet was organized -- consisting of two frigates, two brigs and three schooners. Sailors were paid $8 a month.

Colo the gorilla was born at Ohio's Columbus Zoo on this date in 1956, tipping the scales at 3 1/4 pounds. It was the first gorilla to be born in captivity.


Political dissident and Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner, were allowed to return to Moscow after seven years of internal exile on this date in 1986. Sakharov was known as the "father of the hydrogen bomb," but ticked off Soviet officials with his calls for human rights reforms in the U.S.S.R.

And the daughter of Cuban President Fidel Castro was granted political asylum in the United States on this date in 1993.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

Latest Headlines


Follow Us