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Milestones: Monday, November 20, 2023

November 20, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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GERMANY — TWO DOZEN HIGH-RANKING NAZI OFFICIALS WERE PUT ON TRIAL IN NOV. 20, 1945, for committing war crimes and atrocities during World War II by an international tribunal consisting of delegates from four of the five nations that would later comprise the United Nations Security Council: the United States, Great Britain, France, and the then-Soviet Union. The first of its kind, the Nuremberg Trials brought charges on the Nazis for crimes committed in war, against peace and against humanity. Lord Justice Geoffrey Lawrence, the British member, presided over the Nuremberg Trials, named for the city in which they were held, lasted 10 months and consisted of 216 court sessions and which aimed to gather irrefutable evidence of the atrocities.

Ten of the architects of Nazi policy were hanged on Oct. 10, 1946. However, Hermann Goering, who at sentencing was called the “leading war aggressor and creator of the oppressive program against the Jews,” took his own life on the eve of his execution.


ROYAL MARRIAGE OF THE CENTURY —  PRINCESS ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND ON NOV. 20, 1947, MARRIED LIEUTENANT PHILIP MOUNTBATTEN, A FORMER PRINCE OF GREECE AND DENMARK and a distant cousin of hers. Prince Philip had renounced his own titles and became a British citizen so he could marry the woman he loved. The ornate wedding ceremony took place at London’s Westminster Abbey. At the time, he was 26 years old, and Princess Elizabeth, heir to the British throne, was 21. The wedding was a boost to the British citizens, who were still undergoing hardships after the end of World War II.

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Elizabeth, who became Queen unexpectedly in 1952 when her father, King George VI, died while she was on a safari in Africa, enjoyed a close and supportive marriage with Philip. Before his death in 2021, they had been the first Royal Family couple to reach their Diamond (70th anniversary), according to, the official website of the British royal family.


ENGLAND — FAST FORWARD TO NOV. 20, 1992, WHEN, ON QUEEN ELIZABETH & PRINCE PHILIP’S 45TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, WINDSOR CASTLE CATCHES FIRE. The fire capped off an already fraught year that included three royal divorces, including Prince Charles from Diana and Princess Anne. The cause was attributed to a faulty spotlight, which ignited a curtain, but the blaze spread to more than 100 rooms and took 15 hours and 220 firefighters to extinguish. Most of the artwork was saved, but several firefighters sustained injuries.

Windsor Castle, which overlooks the River Thames near London, dates back to the 11th century and the time of William the Conqueror. The oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, it has been the royal residence for more than 1,100 years. Windsor Castle was restored and reopened by 1997, the fifth anniversary of the fire.


CLEVELAND — INVENTOR AND NEWSPAPER PUBLISHER GARRETT MORGAN, ON NOV. 20, 1923, RECEIVED Patent No. 1,475,074 FOR HIS THREE-POSITION TRAFFIC SIGNAL, WHICH IMPROVED SAFETY FOR VEHICLES. The African-American inventor, born in Kentucky and now living in Cleveland, Ohio, improved on a previous traffic signal that had been used in London since 1868. However, Cleveland had manual traffic signals that switched from “Go” to “Stop” with no time interval to slow down or clear intersections, resulting in a number of collisions in which the vehicles involved each legally had the right of way. Morgan’s invention was an automated signal with an interim “warning” position — the ancestor of today’s yellow caution light — so drivers would have time to clear the intersection before crossing traffic entered it.

Morgan’s traffic signal was a T-shaped pole with three settings, which could also be set at half-mast at night, similar to today’s flashing yellow light, warning drivers to proceed carefully. General Electric eventually bought the rights to Morgan’s traffic light for $40,000.


OLDEST Y/A, PRESIDENT —  PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN HAS A BIRTHDAY. Born on Nov. 20, 1942, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is the oldest United States Commander in Chief to serve at age 81. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he served Delaware as a U.S. Senator before Barack Obama chose him as his running mate in his successful Presidential campaigns of 2008 and 2012. Biden served as vice president (and thus President of the Senate, where he had many allies) for both of President Obama’s terms.

President Biden is only the second Roman Catholic U.S. President in U.S. history, after John F. Kennedy, who served 1961-63 until his assassination that year. By contrast, the majority (six) of members of the judicial branch in the federal government, the United States Supreme Court, are Roman Catholic, including Chief Justice John Roberts.


BROOKLYN-BORN AND WELL-BRED — ACTRESS GENE TIERNEY, born on Nov. 20, 1920, in Brooklyn, was best known for her title role in the film “Laura,” a thriller about a woman who was believed to be killed but is still hunted out. A graduate of Miss Porter’s School, Tierney also played a widow who falls in love with the spirit of an irascible but sexy sea captain in “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.”

Gene Tierney’s daughter in “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” was played by Natalie Wood as a child actress.

See previous milestones, here.

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