Monday, September 11, 2006

Days of Infamy

It was December 7th for my parents’ generation.

It was November 22nd for my generation.

It was September 11th for my children’s generation.

Each generation has had its Day of Infamy: the memories of that day are etched into the minds of those who lived through it in sharp detail. We retain the sights and sounds of the infamous event—where we were, what we were doing, the words of the media broadcasters, the TV or newspaper pictures, our feelings of horror and fear. They remain in our minds like video tapes that we replay when reminded of the day.

H.T.: It is not a good day. A great malicious act took place on this day.

Nick: Yes, I remember the TV images all too well. I don’t need to see them again on television.

H.T.: The malicious acts continue around the world.

Nick: My friend in India, Vishwa, has written about the terrorism there. It must be horrible to go shopping and know that a bomb could go off wherever you are.

H.T.: Yes, it is bad. But people must go on with their lives. I must open my store and work.

Nick: Yes, we must go on living, but I fear that this horror will continue for many years—for generations to come.

H.T.: I fear you are right. And I fear it affects only the little me—people like you and me. It is directed at us.

I had the above conversation this morning with H.T., the man from India who owns and operates the convenience store where I shop each day. He knows—has experienced—great personal loss: his wife was killed by an intoxicated driver less than a year ago. He knows about death that comes without warning—death that is sudden and inexplicable.

The world has learned much about this kind of death in recent years. We in the United States felt safe from it until 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, another day of infamy, when a home-grown terrorist bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Those images reside in my mind along with the assignation of President John Kennedy and the horrors of September 11, 2001.

April 19September 11November 22December 7: all days of infamy that people alive today in the United States have etched in their minds.

People in other lands also have days of infamy etched in their minds:


January 30, 1948India: Mahatma Gandhi Assassinated

February 7, 1991United Kingdom: Mortar attack on No. 10, Downing Street

February 14, 2005Lebanon: Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut.

February 15, 1984Italy: U.S. diplomat Leamon Hunt was assassinated in Rome by the Red Brigades.

February 18, 1986Portugal: FP-25 Bombs the U.S. Embassy

February 21, 1970Israel, Switzerland: Swissair Jet Bombed, 47 Die

February 28, 1986Sweden: Prime Minister Palme Killed

March 2, 1980El Salvador: Archbishop Romero Assassinated

March 12, 1993India: Bomb Attack in Bombay

March 20, 1995—Japan: Tokyo Subway Sarin Gas Attack

March 16, 1988Iraq: Halabja Chemical Weapons Attack

March 21, 1960South Africa: Sharpeville Massacre

March 25, 1975Saudi Arabia: King Faisal Assassinated

April 1, 1941Ukraine, Moldova, And Romania: Fintina Alba Massacre

April 5, 1986Germany: Bombing of Le Belle Disco

April 18, 1983Lebanon: Bombing of U.S. Embassy

April 24, 1915Armenia, Turkey: Armenian Genocide

May 1, 1993Sri Lanka: President Premadasa Assassinated

May 21, 1991India: Rajiv Gandhi Assassinated

May 30, 1972Israel: JRA Massacre at Lod Airport

June 1, 1987Lebanon: Prime Minister Karami Assassinated

June 3, 1989People’s Republic of China: Tiananmen Square Massacre

June 6, 1984India: Indian Troops Storm Amritsar Temple, killing 300 Sikhs

June 23, 1985Canada, India, Japan: Air India Flight 182 bombed

June 25, 1996Saudi Arabia: Khobar Tower Bombing

June 27, 1981Iran: Bombing of the Legislature

July 15, 1983France: Bombing At Orly Airport

August 2, 1980Italy: Bologna Train Station Bombing

August 27, 1979Ireland: Earl Mountbatten Assassinated

August 7, 1998Kenya, Tanzania: Bombings of U.S. Embassies

September 1, 1983Republic of Korea: KAL Flight 007 Shot Down

September 6, 1986Turkey: Jewish Worshippers Killed In Istanbul

September 12, 1980Philippines: Nine Manila Buildings Bombed

September 14, 1982Lebanon: President Elect, Bachir Gemayel, Assassinated

September 14, 1986Republic of Korea: Bombing at Kimpo Airport

September 15, 1982Lebanon: Refugee Camp Massacre

September 19, 1989Chad, Niger, France: UTA Flight 772 Bombed

September 20, 1984Lebanon: Bombing of U.S. Embassy Annex

September 23, 1983United Arab Emirates: Bombing of Omani Aircraft

October 6, 1981Egypt: Anwar Sadat Assassinated

October 23, 1983Lebanon: Islamic Jihad bombings in Beirut killed 254 U.S. marines and 58 French paratroopers.

October 31, 1984India: Assassination of Indira Gandhi

November 29, 1987Republic of Korea: Bombing of KAL Flight 858

December 21, 1988United Kingdom: Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103


  1. Frightening. I can think of many more...Locherbie plane disaster in Scotland and there are a few more in the UK and Ireland i can also think of.

  2. This is a very special and unique post you’ve written, Reverend T. It’s unlike anything else I have read or seen on today’s anniversary of 9-11. We Americans can get so tied up in what has happened to us that we forget that others have suffered losses and pain.

    Thank you especially for all of links. I had not read or heard of many of them. Our world is really hurting, isn’t it? And it has been hurting for a very long time.

  3. It's terrible that the list is so huge.
    Take care, Meow

  4. Until I saw this I had not known that 3 Gandhis had been asassinated. Rather like the Kennedys, but worse.

  5. hey my bros home from iraq & hes not going back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. It's funny...R and I were talking about this last night. I wonder how many people will remember this is 50 years (just like Pearl Harbor day....some people have no clue what Dec. 7th is or means).

  7. John Lennon sang, "War is over (if you want it)," but it appears nobody does. Everybody has an historical reason to kill everybody else.

  8. Thank you for reminding people that 9/11, as horrible as it was, is not the tragedy the world has known. We talk a lot about terrorism. Our current leaders use the fear to their advantage. But people in other countries have terrorist actions happen regularly. It's a very sad state of affairs.

  9. MICHELLE: Yes, there are many more. Terrorism did not begin with the attacks—I include the February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center—on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States, no matter what the Bush administration would have us believe. Terrorism, which I define as indiscriminate attacks on non-combatants, has been around for a very long time.

    AZSONOFAGUN: Thank you, Rex. It was my intention to (1) to address the infamous events that are etched in people’s minds and (2) to go beyond those events that are etched in the minds of the majority of Americans. For example, I suspect that the 1980 bombing of the train station in Bologna is etched in the minds of many Italians as deeply as the September 11th attacks are etched in the minds of contemporary Americans.

    MEOW: Yes, the list I made is large, but it is far, far from complete. Terrorist acts have been around for a long time.

    ABBY: Yes, three Gandhis were assassinated. India has had a long history of assassinations, bombing, and terrorist murders in its relatively short modern history.

    SONSON: Yes, much too much. I fear it is something with which we shall live for many generations to come.

    JODY: I am very happy for you and your brother. I know how long you have missed him and prayed for his safe return home.

    PUNKMOM: I think you have hit upon something. The horrors people remember are those etched in their minds because they took place during a person’s life time. My youngest son, Rob, long had a fear of tornados. The memory of the 1976 tornado that struck Louisville hit when he was but one year old; yet, he lived through it and it impacted him personally, as, for example, the assassination of President Kennedy is not etched in his mind as it is etched in my mind.

    THOMAS: I don’t believe that everyone has an historical reason to kill everybody else. I do believe that certain historical events infect the minds of a small minority of people and lead to direct and indirect retaliation. I remember another song that says “the Irish have long memories” that addressed the violence in Northern Ireland. I think it is the “long memories” that drives that small minority to murder and mayhem.

    SQUIRL: You are most welcome. To remind Americans that we are not the only victims was one of my objectives in writing that post.
    I agree that the Bush administration has used and misused the September 11th attacks, especially promoting alarm in the minds of the electorate, to get what they want. When I ask the great ethical question, “Who benefits,” of the September 11th attacks, the one answer I have is that only the American political right-wing has benefited: they are getting what they have long wanted, including a police state to control the citizens. Considering the history of the Bush family with the ben Laden family and Bush, Sr.’s relationship with the Taliban when he directed the C.I.A., I could easily create a conspiracy theory that is, for me, too bizarre and frightening to consider.

  10. Again your comments are as good as your posts!

    I'm glad Jody's brother is safely home. He seemed to be a Iraq a very long time.

  11. Man's inhumanity to man- since Cain & Abel- it's hard to believe that anyone could hate that much.