Today in history: September 17

/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Saturday, Sept. 16, the 259th day of 2006. There are 106 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Sept. 16, 1919, the American Legion was chartered by an act of Congress.

On this date:
In 1498, Tomas de Torquemada, notorious for his role in the Spanish Inquisition, died in Avila, Spain.

In 1810, Mexico began its revolt against Spanish rule.

In 1893, more than 100,000 settlers swarmed onto a section of land in Oklahoma known as the Cherokee Strip.

In 1940, President Roosevelt signed into law the Selective Training and Service Act, which set up the first peacetime military draft in U.S. history.

In 1940, Samuel T. Rayburn of Texas was elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1966, the Metropolitan Opera opened its new opera house at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

In 1974, President Ford announced a conditional amnesty program for Vietnam war deserters and draft-evaders.

In 1976, the Episcopal Church, at its General Convention in Minneapolis, formally approved the ordination of women as priests and bishops.

In 1977, Maria Callas, the American-born prima donna famed for her lyric soprano and fiery temperament, died in Paris at age 53.

In 1982, the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children by Lebanese Christian militiamen began in west Beirut’s Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps.

Ten years ago: President Clinton claimed the endorsement of the nation’s largest police organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, in his bid for re-election. Space shuttle Atlantis blasted off more than six weeks late on a mission to pick up NASA astronaut Shannon Lucid from the Russian space station Mir. Former national security adviser McGeorge Bundy died in Boston at age 77.

Five years ago: President Bush pledged a crusade against terrorists, saying there was “no question” Osama bin Laden was the “prime suspect” in the Sept. 11 attacks. Eight cross-country runners from the University of Wyoming were killed when their sport utility vehicle collided head-on with a pickup truck that had swerved into their lane. Movie producer Samuel Z. Arkoff died in Burbank, Calif., at age 83.

One year ago: President Bush ruled out raising taxes to pay the massive costs of Gulf Coast reconstruction in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, saying other government spending had to be cut to pay for the recovery effort. Gordon Gould, a pioneer in laser technology who’d coined the word “laser,” died in New York City at age 85.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Janis Paige is 84. Actress Lauren Bacall is 82. Blues singer B.B. King is 81. Clergyman-author Reverend Robert H. Schuller is 80. Actor Peter Falk is 79. Actress Anne Francis is 76. Actress Linda Miller is 64. Rhythm-and-blues singer Betty Kelly (Martha & the Vandellas) is 62. Musician Kenny Jones (Small Faces; Faces; The Who) is 58. Actress Susan Ruttan is 58. Actor Ed Begley Jr. is 57. Country singer David Bellamy (The Bellamy Brothers) is 56. Country singer-songwriter Phil Lee is 55. Rock musician Ron Blair (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) is 54. Jazz musician Earl Klugh is 53. Actor Christopher Rich is 53. Singer Frank Reed (The Chi-Lites) is 52. TV personality Mark McEwen is 52. Actor Mickey Rourke is 50. Magician David Copperfield is 50. Country singer-songwriter Terry McBride is 48. Actress Jennifer Tilly is 48. Singer Richard Marx is 43. Comedian Molly Shannon is 42. Singer Marc Anthony is 37. Singer Musiq is 29. Actress Alexis Bledel is 25. Actress Madeline Zima is 21. Actress Kyla Pratt is 20. Rock singer Teddy Geiger is 18.

Thought for Today: “You can love a person deeply and sincerely whom you do not like. You can like a person passionately whom you do not love.” — Robert Hugh Benson, English author and clergyman (1871-1914).