On This Day in History: December 21

On December 21, a Pan Am flight exploding devastated the world and is still in the media. What else happened in history today?

Hobey Baker

1582: Flanders Adopts the Gregorian Calendar

Not all countries in the world changed to the Gregorian calendar at the same time. While Roman Catholic countries changed at the same time, the Protestant nations fought off the instructions from the pope. Flanders waited until this day to make a change. People went to sleep on December 21, 1582 and woke up on January 1, 1583.

1620: The Mayflower Arrives at Plymouth Rock

On this day in history, the people on the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. The rock is now used as a symbol for the landing, but it wasn’t included in journals until the 1700s. The Plymouth Colony from the Mayflower were reformists from England, in search for brighter pastures.  Only 45 out of the 102 on the Mayflower survived the harsh winter conditions and illness that spread across the ship where many of the women and children remained for six months.

1918: The Death of Hobey Baker

Ice hockey star Hobey Baker died on this day in a plane crash. He had enlisted in the U.S. Army just a year earlier as a pilot. After the end of World War I, he continued to test squadron planes. Unfortunately, he was involved in an accident in this one over Toul, France and died. He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945.

1946: Tsunami Devastates Japan After Earthquake

On this day in history, an undersea earthquake led to a tsunami that would devastate Japan’s city of Honshu. Half a million people were left homeless after the events, with 2,000 dead. The community was already recovering from the horrors of the Second World War. The earthquake had measured 8.5 on the Richter scale

1988: The Lockerbie Bombing

On December 21, 1988, Lockerbie, Scotland found itself at the center of a devastating explosion. A bomb had been hidden on Pan Am Flight 103, heading to New York from London. All 260 people on the plane were killed, along with 11 residents in the town. The largest criminal investigation in Britain would take place, and is still not completely officially over. Libya eventually accepted responsibility for the bombing, after the arrests and Lockerbie Bombingindictments of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. While the latter was acquitted, the former was sentenced to life in prison. He was released on compassionate grounds in 2009, after being diagnosed with cancer and only having months to life.

1991: The Commonwealth of Independent States Created

The Cold War was finally coming to an end. On this day in 1991, 11 of the 12 former states of the Soviet Union declared the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. They included Armenia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Only Georgia refused to participate. The independence was not the creation of a new state, but the “alliance” between the independent states. Mikhail Gorbachev announced the Soviet Union was officially over and stepped down as Soviet leader on Christmas Day.

Famous Birthdays on December 21

Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket–1117

King Johan III of Sweden–1537

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli—1804

Fourth United Nations Secretary General, Kurt Waldheim—1918

Actor Samuel L. Jackson–1948

Tennis player Chris Evert—1954

Actor Kiefer Sutherland, best known for 24—1966

Sources:

 

Featured photo from Deposit Photos

Birthdays from HistoryNet.com and OnThisDay.com

Image of Hobey Baker in the public domain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobey_Baker#/media/File:Hobey_Baker_Princeton_Football.jpg)

Image of Pan Am Flight by Eduard Marmet (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockerbie-Anschlag#/media/File:Pan_Am_Boeing_747_at_Zurich_Airport_in_May_1985.jpg) used under the CC-3.0 Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

 


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