This Day in History

Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2003

In Alaska

• In 1934, fire swept through Nome, virtually destroying the town.

• In 1964, a $6 million contract was signed to reconstruct the Alaska Railroad facilities in Seward that were damaged by the Good Friday earthquake. It was the largest single earthquake reconstruction contract.

In the nation

• In 1787, the Constitution of the United States was completed and signed by a majority of delegates attending the constitutional convention in Philadelphia.

• In 1862, Union forces turned back a Confederate invasion of Maryland in the Civil War Battle of Antietam.

• In 1920, the American Professional Football Association, a precursor of the National Football League, was formed in Canton, Ohio.

• In 1947, James V. Forrestal was sworn in as the first U.S. Secretary of Defense as a new National Military Establishment unified America's armed forces.

• In 1963, "The Fugitive," starring David Janssen, premiered on ABC Television.

• In 1976, NASA publicly unveiled the space shuttle "Enterprise" at ceremonies in Palmdale, Calif.

• In 1978, after meeting at Camp David, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed a framework for a peace treaty.

• In 1983, Vanessa Williams of New York became the first black contestant to be crowned "Miss America." The following July, she also became the first Miss America to resign in the wake of her Penthouse magazine scandal.

• In 1993, President Clinton urged China to cancel an underground nuclear test, assuring the Beijing government it had nothing to fear from the world's other atomic powers.

• In 1996, former Vice President Spiro T. Agnew died in Berlin, Md., at age 77.

• In 2002, NBA star Patrick Ewing announced his retirement as a player.

In the world

• In 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland, more than two weeks after Nazi Germany launched its assault.

• In 1948, the United Nations mediator for Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte, was assassinated in Jerusalem by Jewish extremists.

• In 1998, in Mexico, gunmen apparently sent by a druglord yanked three families from their beds before dawn and opened fire, killing 19 men, women and children near a popular Baja California resort.

• In 2002, after years of denials by his country, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il admitted that North Korean spies had abducted about a dozen Japanese citizens decades earlier, and that at least four of the Japanese were still alive.

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