Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 29, 1940, during World War II, Germany dropped incendiary bombs on London, setting off what came to be known as “The Second Great Fire of London.”
On this date:
In 1170, Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was slain in Canterbury Cathedral by knights loyal to King Henry II.
In 1812, during the War of 1812, the American frigate USS Constitution engaged and severely damaged the British frigate HMS Java off Brazil.
In 1845, Texas was admitted as the 28th state.
In 1851, the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in the United States was founded in Boston.
In 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as an estimated 300 Sioux Indians were killed by U.S. troops sent to disarm them.
In 1916, James Joyce’s first novel, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” was first published in book form in New York after being serialized in London.
In 1972, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, crashed into the Florida Everglades near Miami International Airport, killing 101 of the 176 people aboard.
In 1989, dissident and playwright Vaclav Havel (VAHTS’-lahv HAH’-vel) assumed the presidency of Czechoslovakia.
In 1992, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo commuted the prison sentence of Jean Harris, the convicted killer of “Scarsdale Diet” author Herman Tarnower.
In 1996, guerrilla and government leaders in Guatemala signed an accord ending 36 years of civil conflict.
In 2006, word reached the United States of the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (because of the time difference, it was the morning of Dec. 30 in Iraq when the hanging took place). In a statement, President George W. Bush called Saddam’s execution an important milestone on Iraq’s road to democracy.
In 2007, the New England Patriots ended their regular season with a remarkable 16-0 record following a 38-35 comeback victory over the New York Giants. (New England became the first NFL team since the 1972 Dolphins to win every game on the schedule.)
Ten years ago: Fed-up voters in Jamaica threw out the ruling party and delivered a landslide triumph to the opposition People’s National Party and its leader, former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. The No. 15 Baylor Bears, led by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, pulled out an Alamo Bowl victory in the highest-scoring regulation bowl game in history, beating the Washington Huskies 67-56 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Five years ago: The United States struck back at Russia for hacking the U.S. presidential campaign with a sweeping set of punishments targeting Russia’s spy agencies and diplomats. Tennis star Serena Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian — on Reddit. (The couple married on Nov. 16, 2017.)
One year ago: A Colorado National Guardsman who’d been sent to help out at a nursing home struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak was reported to be the first in the U.S. to have a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus that had been circulating in England. Just days before he would have been sworn in as a new Republican member of the U.S. House from Louisiana, Luke Letlow died at the age of 41 from complications related to COVID-19. A statue of Abraham Lincoln with a freed slave appearing to kneel at his feet was removed from its downtown Boston perch. French designer Pierre Cardin died at 98. Phyllis McGuire, the last surviving member of the singing McGuire Sisters, died at her estate in Las Vegas at 89.
Today’s Birthdays: Country singer Rose Lee Maphis is 99. Actor Inga Swenson is 89. Retired ABC newscaster Tom Jarriel is 87. Actor Barbara Steele is 84. Actor Jon Voight is 83. Singer Marianne Faithfull is 75. Retired Hall of Fame Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. is 75. Actor Ted Danson is 74. Singer-actor Yvonne Elliman is 70. The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, is 68. Actor Patricia Clarkson is 62. Comedian Paula Poundstone is 62. Rock singer-musician Jim Reid (The Jesus and Mary Chain) is 60. Actor Michael Cudlitz is 57.
Rock singer Dexter Holland (The Offspring) is 56. Actor-comedian Mystro Clark is 55. Actor Jason Gould is 55. News anchor Ashleigh Banfield is 54. Movie director Lilly Wachowski is 54. Actor Jennifer Ehle is 52. Actor Patrick Fischler is 52. Rock singer-musician Glen Phillips is 51. Actor Kevin Weisman is 51. Actor Jude Law is 49. Actor Maria Dizzia is 47. Actor Mekhi Phifer (mih-KY’ FY’-fuhr) is 47. Actor Shawn Hatosy is 46. Actor Katherine Moennig is 44. Actor Diego Luna is 42. Actor Alison Brie is 39. Country singer Jessica Andrews is 38. Actor Iain de Caestecker is 34. Actor Jane Levy is 32. Singer-actor-dancer Ross Lynch is 26. Rock musician Danny Wagner is 23.