We go through each month thinking not much is happening, but if we look at December throughout history, we can see that a lot has happened in that month, even if not all in the same year. December is the twelfth month of the calendar we use today. December comes for the word, “decem” meaning 10, in Latin. December was the tenth month before the addition of two months to the calendar to make it more regular.
Here are a few events that have happened in December. Most of these are just the last 100 years or so.
December 1, 1981 – AIDS is recognized as an official disease. The disease had been around since the 1940s, but only in small numbers, so it was not until the outbreaks grew larger that it was realized there was a problem.
December 2, 1942 – The first sustained nuclear reaction is achieved at the Manhattan Project.
December 3, 1973 – The first images of close up images of Jupiter are sent back by the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. Pioneer 10 would then be the first spacecraft to leave the solar system.
December 4, 1991 – The final Pan Am flight lands, ending 64 years of flights, dating from 1927.
December 5, 1933 – Utah becomes the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, overturning the 18th Amendment. Prohibition ends.
December 6, 1973 – Gerald Ford is confirmed as Vice President of the United States, after the resignation of Spiro Agnew.
December 7, 1942 – Imperial Japanese Navy attacks Pearl Harbor, and initiates The United States entrance to World War II.
December 8, 1980 - John Lennon is murdered by Mark David Chapman.
December 9, 1979 – Smallpox is declared as extinct. This was the first of only two infectious diseases declared as eradicated.
December 10, 1965 – The Grateful Dead performs their first concert. The groups formally disbanded in 1995, although there have been several tours by the remaining members.
December 11, 1942 – Apollo 17 lands on the moon. This mission is the sixth and last mission to land on the moon.
December 12, 2000 – A decision in Bush vs Gore is announced by the United States Supreme Court in favor of bush, resulting in George W Bush winning the election in Florida. This gave Bush enough Electoral College votes to win the Presidential Election.
December 13, 2003 - Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is finally found in hiding near Tikrit and taken into custody.
December 14, 2006 – The United Launch Alliance, a private company offering launch services, sends an American spy satellite into space. This was its first launch.
December 15, 1972 – The American Psychiatric Association votes to take homosexuality out of the DSM, its manual of mental disorders.
December 16, 1947 – The first practical point contact transistor is built. This was soon replaced by the junction transistor, which was more durable and easier to make.
December 17, 1903 – The Wright Brothers made their first powered flight. The flight was 120 feet and lasted 12 seconds. Four flights were made that day, with the fourth going 852 feet and lasting 59 seconds.
December 18, 1918 – The Eighteenth Amendment is passed by the United States House of Representatives. This amendment started Prohibition, stating the rules for what was prohibited and how the rules would be enforced.
December 19, 1975 – John Paul Stevens, nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford, is appointed on this day. When he retired, he was the third longest serving justice in history.
December 20, 1996 – NeXT and Apple Computer merge. Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple Computer, was fired in 1985 and started the NeXT Company. The company was later bought by Apple and their software adopted as the Apple operating system.
December 21, 1968 – The first mission to the moon is launched. The crew of Apollo 8 becomes the first men to leave the gravity of Earth, experience the gravity of another celestial body. This mission laid the way for Apollo 11’s landing on the moon.
December 22, 1937 – The Lincoln Tunnel, a 1.5 mile tunnel under the Hudson River, opens. When the tunnel opened, the charge was 50 cents per car. Today, cars entering New York pay between $7.50 and $12, depending on day, time, and possession of a pass.
December 23, 1972 – The survivors of the Andes Flight Disaster in South America are rescued. There were 45 people on the plane and 16 survivors were finally rescued 72 days later. The survivors lasted by resorting to cannibalizing the dead passengers.
December 24, 1955 – NORAD starts the tradition of tracking Santa as he delivers presents around the world. The program started by accident, when an advertisement printed the wrong phone number for Santa. The printed phone number belonged to the CONAD, the predecessor to NORAD. After the first year, the tradition of tracking Santa was continued.
December 25, 2004 – The Huygens Probe is separated from the Cassini orbiter and continued on to Titan. It landed on January 14, 2005. It is furthest landing from Earth of any spacecraft.
December 26, 1991 – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic is officially dissolved at a meeting of the Supreme Soviet, the ruling body of the Soviet Union.
December 27, 1922 – The first aircraft carrier specifically built for the purpose is commissioned in Japan. The ship, named the Hosho, was used in the Sino-Japanese War of 1937 between Japan and China, but was later used in a limited fashion because of her small size. The ship was scrapped in 1946.
December 28, 1945 – Composed in 1892, Congress adopts the Pledge of Allegiance in 1942. The words “under God” were added in 1954.
December 29, 1997 – To stop the spread of the Avian Flu, Hong Kong start killing all the 1.25 million chickens in the country.
December 30, 1977 – Ted Bundy escapes from jail for the second time. He committed several more murders before be recaptured, and ultimately executed for his crimes.
December 31, 1955 – For the first time, a United States Company reached the benchmark of making $1 billion dollars in a year. That company was the General Motors Corporation, founded in 1908, and today is the world’s second largest automaker.
Each day of the year has special history items associated with it. December throughout history show us that good and bad things can happen on each day.