Today is Friday, Dec. 21, the 356th day of 2012. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 6:12 a.m. Eastern time.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 21, 1937, Walt Disney's first feature-length animated cartoon, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," had its world premiere in Los Angeles.
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 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 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 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.
- In 1991, eleven of the 12 former Soviet republics proclaimed the birth of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the death of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Ten years ago: A military helicopter crash in Afghanistan killed seven German peacekeepers who were on board and two children on the ground; a U.S. soldier was killed in combat. President George W. Bush received a smallpox vaccination, fulfilling a promise he'd made when he ordered inoculations for about a-half million U.S. troops.