April 15 and September 11

Few Americans look forward to April 15, income tax day.

Abraham Lincoln died of assassination on April 15, 1865.

The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912.

And the Boston Marathon bombing, April 15, 2013, with the trial 2 years later, in case we needed reminding.

September 11 is another bad one.

People tend to forget September 11, 1777: The Battle of Brandywine, right here in Chester County. George Washington didn’t expect the British to ford the river upstream of his position at Chadds Ford and attack his right flank. The British won and occupied Philadelphia. The war dragged on till British general Cornwallis finally surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781.

September 11, 2001: the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, as anyone reading this remembers all too well.

Is it just a coincidence that the terrorist attack occurred on the anniversary of the worst American defeat in the War of Independence? Or perhaps the Bin Ladens of the world have a sense of history?

September 11, 1714, also marked the fall of Barcelona to the Bourbon monarchy and the beginning of the Spanish occupation of Catalonia which has continued ever since. Somewhat perversely, the date of that disastrous defeat has become the Catalan day of national celebration; it’s true, the war and siege ended only after heroic resistance against overwhelming odds.

Look up any day here. All have good and bad associations, but the two days just mentioned seem particularly to have particularly bad karma.

Americans, however, tend to think more of places than dates. Have you noticed how many of the symbolic place names of our history reflect disasters, death, and destruction: Wounded Knee, Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, Selma, Attica, Guantánamo, Ferguson…? And yet, as in most conflicts, people who don’t care to celebrate a victory in connection with such emblematic places can celebrate resistance and renewal.

We seem to have gotten through April 15, 2015, without any unusual disasters. Good! We and the world need to take things day by day at this point.

About politicswestchesterview

Nathaniel regards himself as a progressive Democrat who sees a serious need to involve more Americans in the political process if we are to rise to Ben Franklin's challenge "A republic, madam, if you can keep it," after a passerby asked him what form of government the founders had chosen. This blog gives my views and background information on the local, state, and national political scenes. My career in higher education was mainly in the areas of international studies, foreign languages, and student advising, most recently at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, from which I retired in 2006. I have lived in West Chester since 1986.
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