This day in history

Friday, Dec. 21, is the 356th day of 2012. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 6:12 a.m. Eastern time.

Today’s birthdays: Talk host Phil Donahue is 77. Director John Avildsen is 77. Actress Jane Fonda is 75. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is 68. Actor Samuel L. Jackson is 64. Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg is 62. Singer Betty Wright is 59. Tennis Hall of Famer Chris Evert is 58. Actress Jane Kaczmarek is 57. Actor-comedian Ray Romano is 55. Actor Kiefer Sutherland is 46. Actress Julie Delpy is 43.

In 1620, Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore at present-day Plymouth.


In 1861, President Lincoln signed a congressional act authorizing the Navy Medal of Honor.

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

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

In 1988, 270 people were killed when a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pam Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland.