They say those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. While much of history would be fun to relive, it is important to know what events and people have come before us and to understand their impact on our lives and our world.
Let’s see some of the important events of Decembers past.
December 1: Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man after a long day of work, starting a bus boycott that lasted more than a year, included a case considered by the Supreme Court, and led to the integration of the city’s bus system.
The boycott was supported and publicized by many important civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now there’s a wonderful museum that commemorates Rosa Parks and her influence on American history, located in downtown Montgomery.
December 8: John Lennon Assassination
The Beatles are the most famous band in music history, and John Lennon was the founding member and lead singer. After the band broke up in 1970, Lennon lived with his family in New York City.
On December 8, 1980, as he was returning from a recording session, he was assassinated by a deranged fan, Mark David Chapman.
His ashes were scattered near the family residence in Central Park, and the Strawberry Fields Memorial was later created for fans to pay their respects and remember the musician.
December 14: George Washington Dies
From a young age, George Washington seemed destined to influence history. As military hero, then commander of the military of what would become the United States of America, and the president of the Constitutional Convention, Washington was the country’s founding hero. He served as the United States’ first president before returning to private life at Mount Vernon in Virginia.
There he caught a cold and after a few days of complications, died on December 14, 1799. The country immediately mourned his death, and he still stands as a figure of legendary leadership, wisdom and humility.
December 18: Battle of Verdun Ends
World War I was the first major modern war, and held the entire world in its terrible grip. The size and scope of the battles were on scales never before seen. Battles raged on for months with little to show other than astronomical body counts on both sides.
The Battle of Verdun lasted from February 21 to December 18, 1916, when the Germans surrendered to the French. Roughly 300,000 men on both sides died, making it both one of the longest and most deadly battles in history.
A memorial on the battlefield commemorates both French and German troops, as well as the civilian casualties of the battle.
December 21: Pan Am Flight 103 Blows Up
About one hour into the transatlantic flight from London to New York, Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up, killing all 259 people on the plane and 11 people on the ground.
The airplane debris landed near and in the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, causing significant damage to homes and structures. While two Libyan nationals were accused and one convicted, their guilt has never been certain, significant problems with the investigation were identified, and new suspects have continued to be considered.
December 25: Sir Isaac Newton is Born
On December 25, 1642, Isaac Newton was born in the small English town Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth.
By the time he died 84 years later, he had developed a body of work that has led him to be considered one of the world’s most important scientists. His understanding of gravity has been said to be inspired by watching an apple fall in his garden.
While it probably didn’t hit his head as written by Voltaire, he did write about the thinking and there is an apple tree in the garden of the family home, making it likely that the story is basically true.
December 29: Murder of Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket was born a minor English noble in 1119, but his hard work and good connections led to him being appointed Chancellor under King Henry II and eventually as Archbishop of Canterbury, the most important religious position in the country. Expected to put the concerns of the king over those of the church, Becket instead maintained the primacy of the church, infuriating the king who famously muttered “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome prince?”.
Shortly thereafter, he was assassinated by four knights. He quickly became a saint in the Catholic church and is still one of the most venerated saints in the Anglican church as well.
These are just a few of the interesting, important and world-changing events that have happened in the past. Perhaps the things we do will have as much impact on the future. It’s in our hands!