Friday, September 11, 2015

The Other 9-11 (s)

Since we have so many flag controversies here in Amherst, let me make clear that Hampshire College, like other major institutions in town, lowers the flag to half-staff on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

That said, the main commemorative event in recent years actually memorializes something totally different: what the organizers call "the other September 11," namely the coup that toppled the socialist regime of Salvador Allende in Chile on that date in 1971.

The organizers generally issue a disclaimer explaining that the purpose is not to minimize the tragedy of the September 11 attacks of 2001, although the juxtaposition certainly serves to contradict the simplistic notion of an "exceptionalist" United States as unalloyed force for good--and, on 9-11, innocent victim. In any case, on a practical level, the programs serve as a way of getting students interested in Latin American studies as the fall semester begins.

I mention all this because it underscores the fact that a given date is often the occasion for many anniversaries, which one momentous event tends to eclipse.

A few years ago, I posted a list of these other 9-11's, and they include some events that were arguably of equal or greater world-historical significance: from the victory of William Wallace at Stirling Bridge (1297), and the opening of the battle in which the Turks were stopped at the gates of Vienna (1683), to the British victory at Brandywine in the American Revolution (1777) and the American victory at Plattsburgh (Lake Champlain) over the British in the War of 1812 (1814).

How many do you recognize?

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