Sunday, December 21, 1997
Voters in Lithuania head to polls to cast ballots in presidential elections.
On the horizon
On Monday, December 22, the Progress M-37 cargo ship is
scheduled to dock with Mir space station.
On Tuesday, December 23, the National Menorah will be lit in
On Wednesday, December 24, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah
On Thursday, December 25, much of the world celebrates Christmas.
On this day
In 1846, the first surgical operation under anaesthesia in
Britain was performed at University College Hospital, London by
Robert Liston, who amputated the leg of a servant.
In 1879, Josef Stalin born. After the death of Lenin, he
transformed the Soviet Union by brutal industrialization and
party purges. The country sustained massive losses but
ultimately repulsed the German invasion in World War II, and
Stalin's armies carried on to occupy most of Eastern Europe. He
died in 1953.
In 1913, the first crossword puzzle was published in the
weekend edition of the New York World, compiled by
Liverpool-born Arthur Wynne.
In 1937, Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the first full
length feature cartoon in color premiered in Los Angeles.
In 1940, F. Scott Fitzgerald, U.S. short story writer and
novelist, died. Famous for his depictions of the jazz age, he is best
remembered for his novel "The Great Gatsby."
In 1945, Gen. George Patton, the brilliant tank commander in
World War II and referred to by his men as "Old Blood and
Guts," died after a car accident in Germany.
In 1948, the Republic of Ireland Bill was signed by the
President of Eire, ending the association with Britain.
In 1958, Charles De Gaulle was elected the first president of
the Fifth Republic of France with 78.5 percent of the votes cast
by the electoral college.
In 1960, King Saud took over the government of Saudi Arabia
after Crown Prince Faisal resigned as prime minister.
In 1968, Apollo 8, with astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell
and William Anders, was launched by a Saturn 5 booster from Cape
Kennedy. Three days later they carried out the first manned
flight around the moon.
In 1972, after nearly two decades of Cold War hostility, East
and West Germany established diplomatic ties in a treaty which
committed them to good-neighborly relations, paving the way for
international recognition of East Germany.
In 1973, the first peace conference between Israel and its
Arab neighbors opened in Geneva.
In 1975, terrorists of the "Arm of the Arab Revolution" led
by "Carlos the Jackal" raided the OPEC headquarters in Vienna
and held 11 oil ministers and their staff hostage.
In 1988, a bomb exploded aboard a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie,
Scotland, killing all 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on
In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu declared a state
of emergency in the western district of Timis, where security
police had earlier crushed anti-government riots.
In 1990, Albania tore down eastern Europe's last towering
statues of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
In 1993, Russian President Boris Yeltsin abruptly abolished the former
KGB security police.
Nelson Mandela stepped down on Saturday as the head of the African National Congress in South
Africa. To learn more about the ANC, visit its Web site .
Holidays and more
Actress Jane Fonda is 60.
Former tennis phenom Chris Evert is 43.
Former talk-show host Phil Donahue is 62.
Former President of Austria Kurt Waldheim is 79.
Sources: Associated Press,
Chase's Calendar of Events 1997, J.P. Morgan