This Day in History

Posted: Sunday, December 24, 2006

In Alaska

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• In 1824, the Afognak Forest and Fish Culture Reserve was established by President Benjamin Harrison.

• In 1906, telegraphic service via submarine cable was opened between Juneau and Ketchikan.

• In 1914, the first ore train in the Juneau area operated from the Perseverance Mine to the mill at Thane, south of Juneau.

• In 1959, a Reno, Nev.-based media group purchased the Alaska Daily Empire in Juneau. It is now the Juneau Empire and is owned by Morris Communications, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. Bob Hope began a series of shows for Alaska's military personnel at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks. Other shows were planned at Elmendorf, Eielson and other Air Force bases in Alaska.

In the nation

• In 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., destroying about 35,000 volumes.

• In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tenn., called the Ku Klux Klan.

• In 1920, Enrico Caruso gave his last public performance, singing Jacques Halevy's "La Juive" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

• In 1943, President Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord.

• In 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the first opera written specifically for television, was first broadcast by NBC TV.

• In 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds - one second for each day of captivity.

• In 1995, fire broke out at the Philadelphia Zoo, killing 23 rare gorillas, orangutans, gibbons and lemurs.

• In 2001, officials said President Bush had created a formal line of succession at several key federal agencies in the event a Cabinet secretary were to be killed or incapacitated. A West Virginia woman kidnapped 16-month-old Jasmine Anderson from a Chicago bus station in order to pass the child off as her own; Sheila Matthews and Jasmine were found by FBI agents three days later in West Virginia. (Matthews was later sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.)

In the world

• In 1814, the War of 1812 officially ended as the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium.

• In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt, to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal.

• In 1906, Canadian physicist Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to transmit the human voice (his own) as well as music over radio, from Brant Rock, Mass. (The audience for this broadcast would have been ships' radio-telegraph operators in the Atlantic Ocean.)

• In 1968, the Apollo Eight astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve television broadcast.

• In 1996, the streets of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, turned violent as demonstrators traded blows with supporters of President Slobodan Milosevic and then were clubbed by riot police.

• In 2005, Iraq's governing Shiite coalition called on Iraqis to accept results showing the religious bloc leading in parliamentary elections and moved ahead with efforts to form a "national unity" government.

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