On this day, Dec. 8 …

1980: Beatles star John Lennon is shot and killed outside his New York City apartment building by an apparently deranged fan, Mark David Chapman.

Also on this day:

  • 1813: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92, is first performed in Vienna, with Beethoven himself conducting.
  • 1854: Pope Pius IX proclaims the Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is free of original sin from the moment of her own conception.
  • 1863: President Abraham Lincoln issues his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction for the South.
  • 1886: The American Federation of Labor is founded in Columbus, Ohio.
  • 1941: The United States enters World War II as Congress declares war on Imperial Japan, a day after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • 1972: A United Airlines Boeing 737 crashes while attempting to land at Chicago-Midway Airport, killing 43 of the 61 people on board, as well as two people on the ground; among the dead are Dorothy Hunt, wife of Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt; U.S. Rep. George W. Collins, D-Ill.; and CBS News correspondent Michele Clark.
  • 1982: A man demanding an end to nuclear weapons holds the Washington Monument hostage, threatening to blow it up with explosives he claims are inside a van. (After a 10-hour standoff, Norman D. Mayer would be shot dead by police; it turned out there were no explosives.)
  • 1987: President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev sign a treaty at the White House calling for destruction of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
  • 1991: AIDS patient Kimberly Bergalis, who had contracted the disease from her dentist, dies in Fort Pierce, Fla., at age 23.
  • 1992: Americans got to see live television coverage of U.S. troops landing on the beaches of Somalia as Operation Restore Hope begins (because of the time difference, it was early Dec. 9 in Somalia).
  • 1998: Struggling to stave off impeachment, President Bill Clinton’s defenders forcefully plead his case before the House Judiciary Committee.
  • 1998: The Supreme Court rules that police cannot search people and their cars after merely ticketing them for routine traffic violations.
  • 2001: The U.S. Capitol is reopened to tourists after a two-month security shutdown.
  • 2008: In a startling about-face, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tells the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal he would confess to masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; four other men also abandon their defenses. 
  • 2013: Hundreds of thousands of protesters pour into the streets of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, toppling the statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin and blocking key government buildings in an escalating standoff with the president on the future of the country.
  • 2019: Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer and actor behind “Sesame Street” characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, dies.