Long before Super Tuesday, the Republican Party had cemented itself on the
distant right of American politics, with a primary campaign that has been
relentlessly nasty, divisive and vapid. Barbara Bush, the former first lady, was
so repelled that on Tuesday she called it the worst she’d ever seen. We feel the
This country has serious economic problems and profound national security
challenges. But the Republican candidates are so deep in the trenches of
cultural and religious warfare that they aren’t offering any solutions.
The results Tuesday night did not settle the race. Republican voters will have
to go on for some time choosing between a candidate, Mitt Romney, who stands for
nothing except country-club capitalism, and a candidate, Rick Santorum, so
blinkered by his ideology that it’s hard to imagine him considering any
alternative ideas or listening to any dissenting voice.
There are differences. Mr. Santorum is usually more extreme in his statements
than Mr. Romney, especially in his intolerance of gay and lesbian Americans and
his belief that religion — his religion — should define policy and politics. Mr.
Santorum’s remark about wanting to vomit when he reread John F. Kennedy’s
remarkable speech in 1960 about the separation of church and state is one of the
lowest points of modern-day electoral politics.
Mr. Romney has been slightly more temperate. But, in his desperation to prove
himself to the ultraright, he has joined in the attacks on same-sex marriage,
abortion and even birth control. He has never called Mr. Santorum on his more
bigoted rants. Neither politician is offering hard-hit American workers anything
beyond long discredited trickle-down economics, more tax cuts for the rich, a
weakening of the social safety net and more of the deregulation that nearly
crashed the system in 2008.
There is also no space between Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum in the way they
distort reality to attack Mr. Obama for everything he says, no matter how
sensible, and oppose everything he wants, no matter how necessary. Rising gas
prices? Blame the president’s sound environmental policies. Never mind that oil
prices are set on world markets and driven up by soaring demand in China and
Middle East unrest.
They also have peddled the canard that the president is weak on foreign policy.
Mr. Romney on Tuesday called President Obama “America’s most feckless president
since Carter.” Never mind that Mr. Obama ordered the successful raid to kill
Osama bin Laden and has pummeled Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders, all without the
Republicans’ noxious dead-or-alive swagger. Now, for the sake of scoring
political points, Mr. Romney, Mr. Santorum and Newt Gingrich, who is hanging on
only thanks to one backer’s millions, seem determined to push Israel toward a
reckless attack on Iran.
Republican politicians have pursued their assault on Mr. Obama, the left and any
American who disagrees with them for years now. There are finally signs that
they may pay a price for the casual cruelty with which they attack whole
segments of society. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican of Alaska, said on
Tuesday that the Republicans have left people thinking they are at war with
women. Women are right to think that.
A new Pew Research poll shows that 3 in 10 voters say their opinion of the
Republicans has worsened during the primaries. Among Democrats, 49 percent said
watching the primaries have made them more likely to vote for Mr. Obama. That is
up from 36 percent in December, which shows that Mr. Obama has risen as the
Republicans have fallen.
But the president, who can be frustratingly inert at times, still has a long way
If an alien
with an accounting degree touched down in America, it might conclude that we’re
a weird cult that spends 11 months living frugally and four crazy weeks buying
tons of stuff we don’t need. It wouldn’t be entirely wrong, either. Retailers
make around a fifth of their sales during the holiday season — close to half a
trillion dollars — when the ratio of frivolous to necessary purchases spikes.
It’s not unusual for large chains to operate in the red from New Years’ Day
through Thanksgiving and then make it all up in those crazy weeks.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the single most manic, delirious
shopping day of the year and, of course, the official beginning of the
holiday-buying frenzy. Holiday binge-buying has deep roots in American culture:
department stores have been associating turkey gluttony with its spending
equivalent since they began sponsoring Thanksgiving Day parades in the early
20th century. And to goose the numbers, they’ve always offered huge promotions
Black Friday relies on a few simple retail strategies that, with tons of
customer data and forecasting software, have become fairly precise. One method
is to sell everything as cheaply as possible and magnify a tiny profit through
volume. Other stores mark down only a few high-profile items — even selling them
at a loss — in hopes that customers will also throw a few full-priced items in
their carts. Regardless, Black Friday is essentially a one-day
economic-stimulus plan and job-creation program. Retailers use TV commercials
and deep discounts, rather than tax breaks and infrastructure spending, but the
effect is the same: billions of dollars, which would otherwise never be spent,
make their way into circulation.
In some years past, big sales on Black Friday have meant a good year for the
retail sector, which makes up about a fifth of the U.S. economy. (This year,
retailers are predicting a so-so year, with just tiny growth in sales.) But
lately, the data have been much harder to read. On a spread sheet, broke people
buying on deep discount look an awful lot like people who feel flush, but
they’re not the same thing. In the recent recession, solid Black Fridays have
been followed by lousy sales once the special offers went away. It’s another
indication of how hard it is to understand the real state of our economy and
what we can do to make things better.
One attractive approach to the latter would appear to be effectively having a
few months of extended Black Friday discounts. In theory, it’s a way to end an
economic downturn: when the economy slows, consumers stop spending. Then
businesses slash prices, people buy at discounted rates, warehouses empty and
business picks up. But this cycle was a lot easier to maintain before, roughly,
2001, when the United States so dominated the global markets that it also
determined the cost of raw materials. When U.S. sales fell, global commodity
prices followed. As a result, American companies could lower prices on consumer
goods without firing a lot of workers or cutting their pay. But not any more:
demand from China, India and Brazil, among others, is now sending the prices of
oil, grains, metals and other commodities higher than ever. U.S. companies —
stuck with a higher bill — have cut costs by laying off workers rather than by
slashing prices. This holiday season, for example, retailers have the smallest
number of workers per sales dollar in the last decade.
While Black Friday can be an amazing stimulus for one day, it can be destructive
if it goes on too long. The main problem with an extended period of price
discounts is that if companies end up with lower profits from smaller margins,
they may need to fire even more people, thus raising unemployment even further
and making shoppers even less likely to spend. If they go on too long, deep
discounts could also lead to one of the scariest phrases in economics, “a
deflationary spiral,” in which consumers and businesses are in a miserable
stalemate — not spending, not hiring. When everybody expects prices to keep
falling significantly, things get worse. Why shop today if everything will be
cheaper tomorrow? Why build a new factory and hire workers if profits are just
going to fall?
There is, however, a way to achieve a healthier, extended Black Friday. It also
results in consumers shopping and businesses hiring, but, paradoxically, it’s
achieved through raising prices rather than cutting them. And it is truly one of
the other scariest words in economics: inflation. Like a defibrillator,
inflation is a blunt tool that, used exceedingly sparingly, can sometimes save
the patient. The Federal Reserve can create inflation by pushing more dollars
into the economy, a huge influx of which makes every dollar we have worth a bit
Most of the time, the rate of inflation is so low that we barely notice it. When
it’s out of control, as it is right now in Zimbabwe, it makes money effectively
worth nothing. But a bit of extra inflation can work miracles. With, say, 5
percent inflation — a bit more than double the current rate — $100 today will
only buy $95 worth of stuff next year. That’s frightening, which is the point.
We actually want consumers to realize that prices are rising and that money in
their bank accounts is losing value if they don’t start spending. The same goes
for companies too, which will be compelled to build and hire rather than sit on
earnings, as many are now.
These days, the inflation solution is a hot topic among policy experts and
economists, both liberal and conservative. Some Democrats think of it as a sort
of back-door stimulus — because Congress won’t pass President Obama’s jobs plan.
For a few Republicans, it’s a way to prod the economy without increasing
government spending or debt. And then there are other economists who point out
the rather obvious downsides: inflation, once it starts, can get out of control.
Rising prices without new hiring would make people worse off. Weimar Germany’s
hyperinflation led to Hitler; some blame inflation in the United States in the
’70s for giving us disco.
Even without these memories, inflation is a tough sell. It’s nearly impossible
for politicians to tell Americans that their financial problems will be solved
once the money in their wallets is worth less. (This, after all, is why Rick
Perry threatened violence on Ben Bernanke.) Yet the biggest advantage, and
somewhat terrifying disadvantage, to inflation as a policy tool is that it can
be instituted without any politicians’ involvement. The Federal Reserve Board
can meet and make some decisions, and pretty soon we’ll all see prices start
In our bizarro economic world, where inflation can be good and discounts can be
bad, the best long-term hope for the future might be the thing that most
terrifies us. If emerging-market nations in Asia and Latin America develop a
strong middle-class majority — as of now, they still haven’t — the United States
will have less power and influence. But it also means that if our economy slows
down again (and one day it will), American companies will be able to rely on
consumers in Brazil and China without having to spur shoppers with extra
inflation or deep discounts. There shouldn’t be anything scary about that.
For the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, we invited readers to offer
To the Editor:
For one brief moment on Sept. 11, 2001, time seemed to stand still. People
sought family members and recognized the importance of family. Acts of charity
were plentiful. There was an assessment of life and what is really important.
Places of worship were full. People unashamedly prayed.
There was a strong feeling of patriotism, and a desire to show the flag. Crime,
and even the thought of it, was absent. We were all in support of our president.
Congress and all our elected leaders worked together for the good of our
country. Nations across the world expressed concern, sadness and unity with the
For one brief moment ...
Chicopee, Mass., Sept. 7, 2011
Sept. 11, 2001, marks the last day of my life that I did not own a cellphone. I
was a college junior in Sarasota, Fla., and heard about the planes hitting the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon. My father was supposed to be giving a
briefing at the Pentagon that morning, and I had no way to get in touch with
Hours passed before a message made its way through family channels that my dad’s
briefing had been canceled and that he was several miles away when the plane
struck the Pentagon.
The heroic images and stories of the day, the ignorance and blind hate of the
days that followed and the military and political quagmires of the subsequent
years, though they are with me every day, will never overwhelm the biggest part
of 9/11 for me: for several hours, I didn’t know if my dad was alive or dead.
The next day I went and bought a cellphone and called my dad.
South Bend, Ind., Sept. 7, 2011
After 10 years, and this week’s necessary memorials, I am hopeful that America
will finally move beyond 9/11. Not to forget it — no, we shall never forget. But
can we finally become more than a nation of victims and vengeance?
Can we return again to a pre-9/11 era, when Americans listened more to reason
than to rage? Can we, like every nation in Europe that has been targeted by
terrorists, acquire the confidence to walk beside our fears and not let fear
consume any more of our defense dollars, our civil liberties, our ability to
listen to one another and to world opinion?
Ten long and difficult years have passed. It’s time to move on.
Leverett, Mass., Sept. 7, 2011
In a letter published in The Times on Sept. 12, 2001, I wrote that “we can only
hope” that the response to the 9/11 outrage will be “prudent, measured,
rational, and within the parameters of the law,” and that “the inevitable
temptation to change fundamentally the nature of our society, by attacking the
civil rights and civil liberties of any individual or group, must be resisted.”
Unfortunately, this admonition was not heeded, and in the 10 years since the
attacks we have betrayed our core values and undermined our credibility, both
domestically and internationally.
On the home front, we have compromised our basic commitment to civil rights and
civil liberties through devices such as the Patriot Act, the 2008 amendments to
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and “national security letters” — in
the process creating an enormous surveillance apparatus worthy of a police
Internationally, our response remains one of unbridled militarism and
imperialism, as we continue to wage two wars, occupying Muslim nations with tens
of thousands of troops and seeking to impose our will on those lands by force —
and now even working to undo our pledge to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. We
have employed torture as an instrument of policy, in flagrant violation of the
rule of law, and declined to punish or prosecute the policymakers who authorized
it. And Guantánamo is still open, despite President Obama’s promise to close it
by Jan. 21, 2010.
In the long run, this unprincipled reaction does not make us safer, but simply
invites more terrorism and repression. But most important, it is a national
JOHN S. KOPPEL
Bethesda, Md., Sept. 7, 2011
I experienced 9/11 first as an American mother, then as a “Muslim other.” For
the first three hours, I didn’t know whether my son, who worked for one of the
banks at the World Trade Center, was in New York or in London on that fateful
Tuesday; when he finally called me with a terse “Mom, I’m all right,” I thought
of all the mothers who didn’t get that reassuring phone call.
My second thought was to pray that the perpetrators of the horror would have no
connection to the Middle East. When that prayer was not answered, I understood
that, after 20 years of believing myself and my family to be completely
integrated in American society, we were now perceived differently.
In the weeks that followed, I volunteered to speak wherever I was invited, to
try to distance the religion I had grown up with in Egypt from the atrocity
perpetrated in its name. The first time my neighbor of eight years heard me
speak at a church, she burst out, “I didn’t know we had Muslims in the
Today, 10 years later, it seems evident that efforts to distance Islam from
terrorism have proved futile; an unapologetic Islamophobia is the last allowable
prejudice in America. The only hope of reversing that alarming trend lies in the
Arab Spring; if it succeeds, it might open the eyes of the world to a different
image of Arabs and Muslims — not as an undifferentiated horde of potential
terrorist recruits but as peaceful young protesters aspiring to dignity and
Chapel Hill, N.C., Sept. 8, 2011
On that fateful morning I was in the South Tower above the 90th floor. I escaped
without injury, but 13 of my colleagues lost their lives. I have been living
with the memories of that day, just as I have been living with memories of the
Holocaust. But enough is enough!
When will we stop this nonstop memorializing? Ten years have passed and the
reconstruction on the World Trade Center site has barely begun. Ten years after
World War II Europe was largely rebuilt.
I know families who lost loved ones, and all they ask for is that they stop
being reminded constantly about what happened. A quiet and tasteful memorial for
first responders and victims should be enough. It is time to close the door on
the event and let the survivors live our normal lives.
New York, Sept. 7, 2011
I was at Stanford in California; it was a little before 6 a.m., local time. I
was preparing to go for a walk with a friend and turned on the radio — something
I rarely do in the morning. Then I heard the shocking news that a plane had hit
the World Trade Center. I quickly turned on the television.
When my friend arrived, we watched in horror as the second plane hit. I did not
immediately think “war.” President Bush was much too quick to announce that we
were at war.
I was even more shocked when he decided to send troops to Iraq. Saddam Hussein
had nothing to do with 9/11. That was a mistake from the beginning and has made
me very suspicious about decisions politicians make and about those who are
That war and the one in Afghanistan have cost us too many lives and too much
money. They have also cost us our once-noble standing in the world. Instead of
making us safer, they have increased Muslim hostility toward us. I see no end in
sight until we get out of the wars and focus on rebuilding our own declining
Providence, R.I., Sept. 7, 2011
Of all the stories I’ve read in the days and years after 9/11, the ones most
vividly recalled have to do with people’s desire for connection until their very
last moments — the jumpers who clung to one another as they stepped off the
towers or the final phone calls made to loved ones to say goodbye.
In this post-9/11 world where connections seem more superficial, where the only
way some people keep up with loved ones is by following Facebook and Twitter
feeds, this 10th anniversary of 9/11 is a reminder to me to really connect to
the people around me.
For all those we lost on 9/11, I hope those personal connections provided some
comfort in their final moments.
My wife and I turned around and looked back after debarking from the police boat
that ferried us and other terrified Battery Park City residents to Liberty State
Park in New Jersey after the twin towers collapsed. We were covered with fine
granular white dust and had to be hosed down as we looked for transportation to
get us away from the nightmare surrounding our home.
We were met with incredible kindness and sympathy, the good of human nature
contradicting the evil played out across the Hudson River.
Low-flying planes still frighten us, and this Sunday I will keep the window
blinds drawn. We know that we and the world will never be the same.
New York, Sept. 7, 2011
To the Editor:
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was eight months pregnant and on the way to
a 9 a.m. doctor’s appointment within a few blocks of the World Trade Center.
Absorbed in a book, I boarded the wrong train and bypassed the World Trade
Center stop, ending up farther east. By that time, both towers were on fire, my
water had broken from the shock and the world had changed forever.
Every September since then has brought on a wide range of emotions and memories.
I remember the kindness of strangers who, like me, were frightened and confused,
but who helped me exit the train and find a taxi. I remember the Pakistani
cabdriver praying to Allah for my baby and me. I remember seeing just one
smoking tower standing as I was driven home, a sight so disorienting that it’s
difficult to imagine even now.
And of course I remember the birth of my beautiful daughter a few days later.
Within a short time, we were given assurances that the air in Lower Manhattan
was safe to breathe, and so I returned to work at my office near South Ferry,
sometimes with my daughter in tow. Within 24 months, she received a diagnosis of
autism. While I’ll probably never know if it was related to 9/11, I can’t help
thinking it might be.
My heart goes out to the people who lost loved ones on 9/11. A few days after
Sept. 11, we’ll celebrate my daughter’s 10th birthday, wondering how our own
lives might have turned out differently, but for that fateful day.
SUSAN E. RAITT
New York, Sept. 8, 2011
To the Editor:
I was in the Pentagon on 9/11 and was lucky to escape unharmed. When I left my
office after feeling the impact, I grabbed my briefcase, which had, among other
things, my keys in it. Most of us who worked there had no idea what had
happened, even though we knew about the planes hitting the twin towers. I
thought it was a bomb.
A group of us gathered in the parking lot. When we were told that we could not
go back into the building, I prepared to leave in my car, thankful that I had my
keys with me.
I still work at the Pentagon. It is a small thing, but immediately after we
returned to the building, and every day thereafter, I carry my car and house
keys with me on a clip on my belt, along with a police whistle. It is a constant
reminder to me of that day — I think of it as my 9/11 emergency kit.
TOM G. MORGAN
Falls Church, Va., Sept. 7, 2011
To the Editor:
I lived in New York City on 9/11 — I was 23 and had just moved into a new
apartment in Brooklyn. I recall the homemade posters with photos of the lost
that were plastered everywhere. I didn’t know any of the people on those
posters, but after seeing their faces over and over, I started to feel as if I
did. I wondered where they were, if they’d made it out in time. They haunted me.
I think we learned to be fearful on 9/11, and fear — in a very primal sense —
does strange things to people. It makes us less open, more suspicious, less
willing to take risks. It steals our sense of innocence and wonder. Fear is what
made way for the war in Iraq and misguided laws like the Patriot Act; it made
permissible a deep mistrust of anyone who’s different.
In 10 years, on the 20th anniversary of this day, I hope that we’ll be less
fearful. I hope that we’ll heal.
Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 7, 2011
To the Editor:
I was an emergency room nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan on that day
and those that followed. Here are some of the things that have stuck with me:
¶The faces of the surviving firefighters, frozen in catatonic shock, revealing
so much more than words ever could.
¶Police officers and paramedics frantically looking for lost partners, some of
whom were found and some of whom perished.
¶People who showed up looking for loved ones who weren’t answering phone calls,
handing us pieces of paper with a name and a physical description, sometimes a
photo, the first of the missing-person posters that became common.
¶Yankees team members walking around, shaking hands and revitalizing everyone,
patients and staff, telling us that we were heroes.
The rain that fell later in the week was torrential, but not enough to wash away
the heartache of loss or the stench of the burning wreckage that wafted through
the air of Greenwich Village for many months to come.
The New York Times
By JAMES BARRON
Sept. 11 was unthinkable, Sunday was inevitable: the 10th anniversary of a day
that stands alone. In history. In memory.
Three-thousand six-hundred fifty-two days have now passed. At 8:46 a.m. — the
time when the first plane slammed into 1 World Trade Center — 87,648 hours will
have gone by. Another 5,258,880 minutes. Another 315,532,800 seconds.
Once more, the families gathered at ground zero, where 2,749 died, and in
Washington and in Pennsylvania to pay tribute to the 224 who died there.
Once more, there was an outpouring of grief. Once more, there was the sound of
bells tolling sadly. Once more, there were speeches. Once more, the names were
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the attacks had turned “a perfect blue-sky
morning” into “the blackest of nights."
He added, “We can never unsee what happened here.”
President Obama read Psalm 46, which talks about God as “our refuge and
strength, a very present help in trouble,” and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York
read from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address, the
famous “four freedoms” speech — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom
from want and freedom from fear “anywhere in the world.”
The 10th anniversary dawned on a city and a nation that has changed immutably,
with continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and persistent security worries at
home. And no longer is ground zero a scarred reminder of what was, but a symbol
of resurgence, with the National September 11 Memorial about to open and a
not-yet-finished skyscraper. It now stands 961 feet above the street where
This Sept. 11 began with the towers that will take their place of the ones that
were destroyed a decade ago illuminated in red, white and blue stripes.
What was then the site of the World Trade Center is surrounded by construction
fences, and evidence of what happened is everywhere: There are flags on the new
Tower One, the “Freedom Tower.” The subway station nearby has exit sign that
identify it as the “Rector Street 9/11 Memorial,” with the “11” written to look
like the twin towers.
Ten years ago, it was just another morning — a Tuesday, a day when ordinary
people did the most ordinary of things: Scrambling to work, hurriedly kissing
their families goodbye, running for the train. And then there was the dark gash
and the ball of fire high up in one of the buildings, and a few minutes later, a
second gash, a second ball of fire and a plume of smoke visible for miles.
On Sunday, President and Mrs. Obama arrived and shook hands with former
President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush, with state and city officials and with
relatives of those who died. Then the President and the former president and
their wives walked to the 30-foot waterfalls that are part of the new memorial.
In the moments they stood there, the 16 big pumps sent 52,000 gallons of water
flowing over the edge.
One measure of how Sept. 11 changed everything was how little grumbling there
was last week as motorists waited to crawl through police checkpoints. Sept. 11
redefined the bridges and tunnels beyond those checkpoints as something that
generations of commuters had never imagined: potential targets.
Sept. 11 redefined so much more.
Sept. 11 put New York, a city that had not faced combat in more than 200 years,
on the front lines in a global war on terrorism. Sept. 11 made slogans created
by Madison Avenue like “If you see something, say something” as widespread as
“Loose lips sink ships” once was.
Sept. 11 brought color-coded threat levels (though the Department of Homeland
Security, itself a post-Sept. 11 creation, phased them out several months ago).
Still travelers worry: Is it safe to fly? Since Sept. 11, airline passengers
have had to pull off their shoes and empty their pockets, and they felt
embarrassed when they forgot they had a too-big bottle of shampoo or mouthwash
in their carry-on.
And still there were episodes when terrorists on international flights tried to
set off plastic explosives hidden in their shoes or sewn into their underwear.
Is it safe to open the mail? A week after the Sept. 11 attacks, letters
containing anthrax killed 5 people and infected 17 others. It took the F.B.I.
five years to conclude that an Army microbiologist had been responsible. In the
confusion at first, people hoarded antibiotics, and officials briefly grounded
But this anniversary played out against a different backdrop than the first
anniversary, in 2002, or the fifth, in 2006. For the first time, Osama bin Laden
was dead. “We’ve taken the fight to Al Qaeda like never before,” Mr. Obama
declared Saturday in his weekly radio address.
For the first time, too, there was tangible progress toward fulfilling the
promise to rebuild — a promise made in the aftermath of the attacks but delayed
by squabbling over architects, plans and finances. Buildings are rising between
Church and West Streets in Lower Manhattan, and the National September 11
Memorial will open to the public on Monday. Relatives of those who died at the
World Trade Center will get a first look on Sunday.
If they were to measure it, they would see that the memorial covers about half
of the 16-acre World Trade Center site. They will see that the names of the dead
have been inscribed on the walls of two reflecting pools that now fill the
footprints of the old towers — pools that hold 550,000 gallons of water and are
lined with 3,968 panels of granite, each weighing 420 pounds. A museum is to
open nearby next year. For the memorial and the museum together, the plans
called for some 8.151 tons of steel and 49,900 cubic yards of concrete.
This time, there will be other reminders. The U.S.S. New York, commissioned in
2009 and made with seven-and-a-half tons of steel from the twin towers, spent
the weekend at anchor in the Hudson River. On Sunday morning it was to cruise to
Lower Manhattan, stopping within sight of the new tower at the trade center
Other ceremonies and services were planned. The New York City Fire Museum will
honor the 343 firefighters who died with the dedication of the bunker coat and
helmet that a Fire Department chaplain, Mychal Judge, was wearing on Sept. 11
when he died. Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan will have a “trialogue,” a
three-way discussion with Shamsi Ali, the imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of
New York; Rabbi Michael S. Friedman, the associate rabbi of Central Synagogue in
Manhattan; and Michael B. Brown, the church’s senior minister.
At night, an interfaith ceremony on the south side of Pier 40, a park at the
west end of Houston Street, will be led by the Rev. Alfonso Wyatt, the vice
president of the Fund for the City of New York.
The ceremony at ground zero brought together the officials who were in office 10
years ago — Mr. Bush, Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, Gov. Donald T.
DiFrancesco of New Jersey and Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani — with their successors:
Mr. Obama, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey
and Mr. Bloomberg.
As at past observances, there will be music. The cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who performed
at the one-year anniversary ceremony, played the slow Sarabande movement from
Bach’s Suite for Cello No. 1. James Taylor sang “You Can Close Your Eyes,” and
Paul Simon sang “The Sound of Silence.”
The ceremony is to pause six times: twice to remember the planes that hit the
towers, twice to remember when the towers collapsed, once for the attack on the
Pentagon and once the plane that went down in a field in Pennsylvania. The first
moment of silence was at 8:46 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 11 sliced into
1 World Trade Center — the north tower — 17 minutes before United Airlines
Flight 175 hit the south tower.
And still what happened on that morning seems as impossible as it did in those
first few minutes, when one friend called another and said something like, “Go
turn on the television. A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center.”
Or when, in the seconds before the picture came on, an anchor was heard saying
something like, “Wait. These are live pictures, not the tape? So that was a
different plane, and it hit the other one?”
Like the day when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, or the day when the
space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986 or the day when Pearl Harbor was
attacked in 1941, Sept. 11 was one of those days that divided things into
“before” and “after.”
New Yorkers still talk about what a bright morning that was, after a
thunder-and-lightning show in the sky the night before. They talk about how
late-summer days are forever different. They talk about how the foreboding that
has replaced the promise in the pink of the sunrise and so much joy in the deep
blue of the midmorning sky.
And they talk about what the World Trade Center was, a city-within-the-city that
dominated the skyline. Below 14th Street, it was a direction-finder as sure as
the “N” on any compass. It had been bombed in 1993. The damage had been
repaired, but the two buildings remained a target for Al Qaeda.
believe that many of the geopolitical events
seen as consequences of the attack
may have happened regardless
Friday 9 September 2011
This article was published on guardian.co.uk
at 19.00 BST
on Friday 9 September
A version appeared on p22 of the Main section section
of the Guardian
Saturday 10 September 2011.
It was, we
were soon told, "the day that changed everything", the 21st century's defining
moment, the watershed by which we would forever divide world history: before,
and after, 9/11.
Ten years on, much of that early reaction to the day America realised, as New
York magazine put it on the fifth anniversary, that "there really are
ideological-cum-religious zealots out there intent on slaughtering us in large
numbers", now looks exaggerated – albeit understandably. 11 September 2001
didn't change the world for ever.
The world is, however, a different place. So the question is: which of the many
changes are genuine consequences of 9/11? One way of answering might be to ask
what the world would be like if 9/11 had not happened.
There are obvious objections to counterfactual history, as speculating "what
if?" is known by historians, if only because, as any of them will tell you,
causality isn't easy to establish with certainty even in conventional historical
research. But it does throw up some neat ideas – not least that in the big
scheme of things, 9/11, horrific and cataclysmic as it was, may not have changed
much at all.
If the al-Qaida plotters had not pulled off 9/11, many security and foreign
policy experts believe it would only have been a matter of time before they
managed something else.
Alternatively, a steady accumulation of smaller attacks – an embassy in Africa
here, a warship in the Red Sea there – may have provoked a large-scale US
So an attack on Afghanistan (with all its disastrous consequences for
neighbouring Pakistan, and hence, arguably, for the choices made by the 7/7
London bombers) was more or less on the cards, with or without 9/11.
Crucially, Iraq too may well have come under attack regardless. "There's quite a
strong argument," says Anatol Lieven of King's College London's department of
war studies, "that the Bush administration would have tried to invade and occupy
"The question is, would they have got away with it? Would they have been able to
win over the more moderate Republicans, get it through the Senate, rally support
at the UN, convince Tony Blair?
"I think Iraq would certainly have been more difficult for the US without 9/11,
because Bush explicitly made that Saddam-al-Qaida link. But I think it would
Assuming the neocons did carry the day, "much of what has happened since would
obviously have happened anyway", Lieven points out. "The extreme anger of the
Muslim world, the blow to US military prestige, the rise of Iran – all of that
would have happened."
Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, feels it is questionable whether the
US hawks would have won the day on Iraq without the "extreme shock" of 9/11. But
he notes that much else in the broader world picture would have happened
"Economic growth, continuing globalisation, the rise of a giant consumer class …
the twin towers and al-Qaida barely even dented that," he says. "The debt crisis
would have happened, too.
"The fact that America had a $700bn defence budget, was spending $200bn, $250bn
a year in Iraq and Afghanistan, that was a massive additional drain. But the
underlying economic and financial causes were unrelated. And the whole Arab
spring really had nothing to do with 9/11.
"I'm struggling to think of a single thing that I wouldn't see today if the twin
towers hadn't happened."
It was not 9/11 but the invasion of Iraq that set in motion the real changes:
the "emboldened" state of Iran; the significant hardening and legitimising of
anti-American attitudes in Turkey; the fact that the leaders of "rogue states"
such as Venezuela or Iran could pull off the unlikely feat of "presenting
themselves as much-maligned forces for stability".
And it was the war in Iraq, notes Toby Dodge, of the LSE and the International
Institute for Strategic Studies, that imposed such serious and lasting strain on
transatlantic relations, and on relations within Europe.
"If the transatlantic relationship was born in 1945, it died on 9/11. The fact
[is] that Le Monde could say on its front page, 'We're all Americans now,' and
that the US could then so completely squander that with bombastic, imperialist
incompetence," he said.
Other major post-9/11 winners, says Lieven, include China, which avoided the
consequences of "a very gung-ho, almost McCarthyite anti-Chinese agenda" when
Bush came to power to "benefit enormously from the fact that the US was spending
itself into the ground on military hardware that was never going to be a threat
And if the Bush White House had not been occupied with Iraq, it might not have
resisted attacking North Korea, Lieven speculates. "That would have led it into
a confrontation with China."
In fact one of the greatest victims of the US response to 9/11, argues Dodge,
was the country's own strategic focus, which "just got completely skewed".
Pakistan was neglected. Israel was neglected ("The road to Tel Aviv and Ramallah
ran through Baghdad").
And so too, adds Niblett, were Latin America ("Bush was the guy who was going to
open up Mexico") and Asia.
"Everything became focused on this one thing," Niblett says. "The US simply
withdrew from pretty much everything else. As a result, Washington was largely
absent at a senior level from the rest of the world, at a time when the rest of
the world was changing, and growing, very fast indeed. That's not made things
easy for Obama."
The pendulum swings, though. Niblett explains: "The fact that 9/11 was such a
massive attack, that it drew such a massive, big-stick response, and that
America saw that response fail … The US was, after all, checked, even in some
ways defeated in Iraq.
"Current US foreign policy under [Barack] Obama, altogether more nuanced, more
restrained, is a product of that. There's an awareness that the big stick
approach doesn't always work."
Which is probably, in the grand scheme of things, a good thing. Because as
Lieven suggests, America under Bush was spoiling for a fight.
"It's worth examining the agenda with which Bush came to power and which he
pursued in the first eight months," he says. "Anti-Russia, anti-China,
anti-Iran, anti-North Korea … If a 'non-9/11' had made Iraq impossible, it's
perfectly possible the US would have got into equally terrible trouble. Just in
The New York Times
By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD
kicked off Black Friday long before dawn and with bad weather in parts of the
country as stores waited to see if consumers would return after two years of
Earlier in the week, shoppers like Melissa Guzman of Visalia, Calif., had
already planned their strategies to take advantage of specials that have moved
up ever earlier over the years. A door-buster deal at Staples for laptops had
caught her attention. “This year, since I don’t have to work the day after
Thanksgiving, I’ll get up at 4 in the morning,” said Ms. Guzman, who works as a
cashier at a convenience store.
Brad Wilson, who runs the online deal site BlackFriday2010.com, said that this
year’s Black Friday deals seemed even better than last, and analysts said there
would be aggressive promotions in almost every sector.
Weather forecasts had retailers across the country worried. In October, stores
like J. C. Penney blamed warm weather for slow sales of winter goods — now, they
have a similar problem.
A Rocky Mountain snowstorm early in the week had resulted in closed highways and
white-out conditions in Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and
Arizona, as officials advised against travel.
The storm was expected to move to the Midwest by Thursday, and to New England by
In Chicago, where a big storm was expected, a couple was overheard detailing
plans to ride a snowmobile to Best Buy to get in line for the plasma television
door-buster offer there.
In New York City, where heavy rain can slow down subways and even the hardiest
of shoppers, expected rainstorms had stores worrying about whether shoppers
would venture out. The rains were expected to also hit Philadelphia and farther
Stores planned promotions and giveaways to lure customers. Wal-Mart opened at
midnight, and promised breakfast bars, donut holes, gum and chocolates to
shoppers there. It also had a bigger incentive: price matching on even
competitors’ door-buster ads.
Its Sam’s Club warehouse unit was also luring shoppers with sustenance, giving
hot egg sandwiches, fruit and yogurt to members starting at 5 a.m. on Friday.
Getting in on the holiday shopping, Burger King said it would offer free coffee
during breakfast hours on Friday.
Toys “R” Us opened at 10 p.m. on Thursday, with about 150 door-buster deals, and
put another 50 deals on sale at 5 a.m. on Friday. It was handing out free
Crayola crayon packs and coloring books with all purchases.
Sears and K-mart stores were also open on Thanksgiving Day, as were many Gap and
Old Navy stores.
Kohl’s opened at 3 a.m. Friday, followed by many other department stores, like
J. C. Penney, Macy’s, Sears and Target, at 4 a.m.
Though many retailers were pushing Thanksgiving Day online bargains that
extended into Black Friday, they said they still expected lines outside.
“There’s still a whole bunch of people who love the thrill of the hunt, coming
in at 4 or 5 a.m., it’s a very social thing,” said Martine Reardon, executive
vice president of marketing for Macy’s.
“There’s a segment of customers for who Black Friday is all about the deal and
the bargain,” said Barbara Schrantz, executive vice president for marketing and
sales promotion at Bon-Ton Stores, which opened at 3 a.m. “There’s kind of a
game to it, and a family tradition.”
has been around for a surprisingly long time, longer than Mother’s Day, longer
than Father’s Day, and almost as long as the official celebration of
What’s changed since the first local Labor Day parade, in New York in 1882, is
the very nature of labor. Go searching for Labor Day history — on the Department
of Labor Web site, for instance — and you invariably come across a quotation
from one of the founders of the American Federation of Labor, Peter McGuire.
Labor Day, he said, was meant to honor those “who from rude nature have delved
and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
There is not so much delving and carving these days, and nature doesn’t seem
quite as rude as it once did. Labor Day has expanded well beyond the realms of
organized labor, and what was once a “workingmen’s” holiday is now a respite for
nearly everyone with a Monday job.
In 1882, this country was still a dozen states short of the full union. It was,
like every year, a time that seems anachronistic from a certain distance, the
year that Jesse James was killed and Ralph Waldo Emerson died and Franklin
Roosevelt was born and the first commercial electric plant lit Lower Manhattan.
This was a country of about 51 million people, and New York a city of about two
That is perhaps quite enough to think about on this Labor Day, this line in the
beach sand between summer and whatever comes after summer but before true
autumn. If Labor Day feels like a comma in the year and not a semicolon — like
Thanksgiving or Christmas — it’s probably all to the good. We need a holiday
that needs no preparation, which is a true holiday indeed.
June 11, 2010
Filed at 1:10 a.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Today is Friday, June 11, the 162nd day of 2010. There are 203 days left in the
Today's Highlights in History:
On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress formed a committee to draft a
Declaration of Independence calling for freedom from Britain.
On this date:
In 1509, England's King Henry VIII married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
In 1770, Captain James Cook, commander of the British ship Endeavour, discovered
the Great Barrier Reef off Australia by running onto it.
In 1910, voters in Oklahoma chose Oklahoma City to be the state's capital over
Guthrie (which had been the territorial capital) and Shawnee. French ocean
explorer and environmentalist Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born in
In 1919, Sir Barton won the Belmont Stakes, becoming horse racing's first Triple
In 1947, the government announced the end of household and institutional sugar
rationing, to take effect the next day.
In 1959, the Saunders-Roe Nautical 1, the first operational hovercraft, was
publicly demonstrated off the southern coast of England.
In 1963, a Buddhist monk (Thich Quang Duc) set himself afire on a Saigon street
to protest the government of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.
In 1970, the United States presence in Libya came to an end as the last
detachment left Wheelus Air Base. (The anniversary of this event is celebrated
as a holiday in Libya.)
In 1977, Seattle Slew won the Belmont Stakes, capturing the Triple Crown.
In 1985, Karen Ann Quinlan, the comatose patient whose case prompted a historic
right-to-die court decision, died in Morris Plains, N.J., at age 31.
Ten years ago: A day after the death of Syrian President Hafez Assad, his son,
Bashar, was unanimously nominated by Syria's ruling Baath Party to succeed his
father. An unruly group of men doused women with water and groped them in New
York's Central Park; some of the assaults were captured on home video. Gustavo
Kuerten of Brazil won his second French Open title, beating Magnus Norman 6-2,
6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (6).
Five years ago: The first tropical storm of the 2005 season, Arlene, sloshed
ashore in the Florida Panhandle. The world's richest countries agreed in London
to write off more than $40 billion of debt owed by the poorest nations. French
journalist Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi assistant were freed after more than
five months as hostages in Iraq. Afleet Alex won the Belmont Stakes by seven
One year ago: With swine flu reported in more than 70 nations, the World Health
Organization declared the first global flu pandemic in 41 years. The NCAA placed
Alabama's football program and 15 other of the school's athletic teams on three
years' probation for major violations due to misuse of free textbooks, stripping
the Crimson Tide of 21 football wins over a three-year period.
Today's Birthdays: Opera singer Rise (REE'-suh) Stevens is 97. Actor Gene Wilder
is 77. Actor Chad Everett is 73. Comedian Johnny Brown is 73. International
Motorsports Hall of Famer Jackie Stewart is 71. Singer Joey Dee is 70. Actress
Adrienne Barbeau is 65. Rock musician Frank Beard (ZZ Top) is 61. Animal rights
activist and PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk is 61. Rock singer Donnie Van Zant is
58. Actor Peter Bergman is 57. Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana is 54.
Actor Hugh Laurie (''House, M.D.'') is 51. Singer Gioia (JOY'-ah) Bruno (Expose)
is 47. Country singer-songwriter Bruce Robison is 44. Actor Peter Dinklage is
41. Country musician Smilin' Jay McDowell is 41. Rock musician Dan Lavery
(Tonic) is 41. Rock musician Tai Anderson (Third Day) is 34. Actor Joshua
Jackson is 32. Christian rock musician Ryan Shrout is 30. Actor Shia LaBeouf
(SHY'-uh luh-BUF') is 24.
Thought for Today: ''Neither in the life of the individual nor in that of
mankind is it desirable to know the future.'' -- Jakob Burckhardt (YAH'-kawb
BUHRK'-hart), Swiss historian (1818-1897).
November 28, 2008
Filed at 8:41 a.m. ET
The New York Times
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shoppers flocked to stores before dawn on Friday to make
the most of holiday sales across the United States, but many vowed to keep
spending down in the face of a shrinking economy.
Retailers from Wal-Mart Stores Inc to Macy's Inc, Kohl's Corp and Best Buy Co
Inc opened their doors in the early hours of "Black Friday," offering steep
discounts to shoppers who waited in line.
"I'm here to save money. The recession is kicking in," said Tammy Williams, 36,
as she stood in line waiting for a 4 a.m. EST opening at a Kohl's in West
Paterson, New Jersey. "I'm just looking for a bargain, anything to save a couple
of dollars. I'll save the rest for food shopping."
The holiday weekend will test the strength of consumer sentiment, a main driver
of the U.S. economy, as the country faces its worst financial crisis since the
Most stores start major sales on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving,
aiming to ring in billions of dollars in holiday sales that last through year's
end. Several chains opened during the holiday on Thursday to capture business
Natalie Diaz, a 32-year-old mother of twins, plans to spend about half of the
$2000 she shelled out last year for Christmas gifts, but said she would not cut
down on presents for her twins.
"They won't get it," she said of her children while shopping at a J.C. Penney in
Jersey City Friday. "Santa does not have a recession."
Retailers fear a looming recession and mounting job losses could cost them
dearly during the period that brings in up to 40 percent of annual sales. Many
stores started offering steep discounts on everything from clothes to
electronics weeks in advance of Thanksgiving.
Experts predicted this year could be the worst sales season since the early
1990s as Americans, already hit by a housing slump and credit crunch, cut
spending on nearly everything but necessities.
Discounters like Wal-Mart have prospered in recent months as more consumers seek
out their low prices.
But mid-tier retailers like department store operator Macy's and specialty
chains such as AnnTaylor Stores Corp are battling to retain loyal customers and
eke out a profit as rivals cut prices up to 40 percent to 50 percent.
They also face unwelcome competition from U.S. stores that declared bankruptcy
before the holiday and are now selling off merchandise at fire-sale prices, such
as Circuit City Stores Inc and Mervyns.
Retail sales at U.S. stores open at least a year could fall 2.2 percent in
November, compared with 4 percent growth last year, based on analyst forecasts
compiled by Thomson Reuters.
Excluding expectations for growth at Wal-Mart, the anticipated decline is even
steeper at 6.6 percent.
Nearly 45 percent of consumers plan to shop during the Black Friday weekend,
according to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers. More
than 80 percent of those shoppers expect to visit a discount store, while 78
percent said they would head to a department store.
While many consumers said they would still go to the stores, they will be far
more careful when buying, a message they've also delivered to their children.
"Right now, I have a lot of friends out of work," said Solomon Leggett, an agent
at a unit of insurer American International Group Inc, which has received $152
billion in a government bailout.
"I'd rather do things for them than the family. Much of my family has understood
the change. We've decided to put a little less gifts for each other" under the
Christmas tree, he said.
Leggett was shopping at toy store FAO Schwarz on Thursday, with a budget of up
to $300 to spend on gifts for his nephews and friends' children.
"We're talking about being more conservative this Christmas, keeping in mind
what other people are going through," said Ana Lewis, with three of her kids in
tow. "I'm a bargain shopper anyway. But the bigger impact is with the kids, they
have become more aware."
July 3, 2007
Filed at 9:23 p.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- All men may be created equal, but all
voices are not. James Earl Jones read excerpts from the Declaration of
Independence in his unmistakable baritone Tuesday, the day before Independence
The reading took place at the National Constitution Center during the unveiling
of one of four surviving copies of the Magna Carta. The nearly 800-year-old
''Great Charter,'' which helped inspire the Declaration, is on loan from Great
Britain's Lincoln Cathedral. It will be displayed for three weeks beginning
The unveiling was preceded by a children's play that amusingly dramatized the
Magna Carta's creation. Jones praised the youngsters as fine actors.
''I can say that, because I should know,'' said Jones, a Tony Award winner.
''You really moved me. I'm really serious.''
Jones, 76, has appeared in more than 200 films, TV shows and theater
productions, his voice familiar to many as Darth Vader in the ''Star Wars''
movies and King Mufasa in ''The Lion King.''
It's also heard in commercials for Verizon, which sponsored the Magna Carta
exhibit along with the National Education Association.
Besides the Magna Carta, the National Constitution Center also features a signed
Emancipation Proclamation and an original printing of the U.S. Constitution.
April 29, 2007
Filed at 2:21 a.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK (AP) -- It started with a clogged dust mask that fell onto the desk
of Jan Ramirez on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001. A friend had used the paper
mask to breathe while fleeing downtown Manhattan as the air was filled with grit
and smoke from the World Trade Center towers.
''That dust mask is going to be an important artifact some day,'' Ramirez
recalled the friend telling her.
Today, the mask has become a museum piece, one small part of the largest records
trove ever assembled to document a single event.
Millions of pieces of paper documenting government investigations, BlackBerry
messages written by survivors as they fled, children's finger-paintings and
family photographs are also part of the archive, preserved in many different
places including state offices, museums and on the Internet.
Saving all things Sept. 11 was a mission embraced from the time of the attacks
by professional archivists and grassroots collectors.
''Pearl Harbor, there are only so many pictures of,'' said Nancy Shader,
regional administrator in New York for the National Archives. ''This, as we
know, was captured in so many ways.''
Archivists immediately set out to compile the most complete picture ever of one
historic event, and already are planning for decades ahead. They shared data
with museum officials and individual collectors at a symposium last month.
''Our goal is to make sure we all know who's got what stuff,'' said Kathleen
Roe, a New York state archivist who is storing more than 1,000 boxes of
government records -- such as the 9/11 Commission report -- in boxes in Albany.
Roe said she and other major archivists met in New York two weeks after the
terrorist attack to ensure that no piece of paper was discarded. It was the
first time archivists had met so early to begin collecting artifacts after such
an event, she said.
Mary Fetchet saved a 43-second telephone message left on the morning of the
attacks by her son, Brad, who later died in the south tower. Brad Fetchet, 24,
called his mother after the first hijacked airliner struck, but before the
second plane crashed into his building.
''We're fine, we're in World Trade Center Two. I'm obviously alive and well over
here, but obviously a pretty scary experience,'' Fetchet told his mother.
Mary Fetchet, founding director of the Voices of Sept. 11 family group, says:
''I want people 100 years from now to be able to listen to that message.''
The organization, with several thousand members, is dispensing advice to family
members on preserving audio recordings, videotapes and photographs of their
loved ones, as well as important papers, including condolence letters from the
The group is developing an Internet archive she calls a ''living memorial'' that
will eventually hold commemorative information about all the 2,973 victims, as
well as survivors and rescuers. So far, it has Web pages that pay tribute to
about 300 victims.
Tom Scheinfeldt, a history professor at George Mason University, is one of the
coordinators of the 9/11 Digital Archive, which stores 150,000 items including
paper, audio and photographs relating to the attacks.
Included in that archive are e-mails from survivors who typed as they fled the
towers, and the heart-rate monitor readout of a jogger who was crossing the
Brooklyn Bridge when he saw one plane crash into the north tower, causing his
heart rate to spike.
The Associated Press has saved two full boxes of the printout of the AP's
national news wire on Sept. 11-12, 2001, as well as oral histories from several
reporters and photographers, said Valerie Komor of the AP Corporate Archives.
Michael Ragsdale, a Columbia University senior technician, roamed the city for
more than a year collecting thousands of pages of ''ephemera'' like fliers
advertising anti-terrorism rallies, blood drives and other public announcements.
He avoided the missing-persons posters that blanketed New York in the months
after the attacks.
''I stayed away from the grief,'' he said. ''I stayed away from the violence on
Ramirez -- who was at the New-York Historical Society when she received her
friend's dust mask and now is the curator of the planned Sept. 11 museum -- said
the collapse of the twin towers may have inspired people to save even the
smallest remnants of that day.
''There's a preciousness that comes attached to anything left concrete from this
event,'' she said. ''I think people seem to feel that it was sort of almost this
sacred stewardship they have taken on in holding this material.''
April 18, 2007
Filed at 3:12 a.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Today is Wednesday, April 18, the 108th day of 2007. There are
257 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On April 18, 1906, a devastating earthquake struck San Francisco, followed by
raging fires; estimates of the final death toll stood at more than 3,600.
On this date:
In 1775, several post riders set out to warn colonists of the British attack
that started the American Revolution. One patriotic myth that grew out of that
movement began with a poem Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called ''Paul Revere's
In 1857, American lawyer Clarence Darrow was born near Kinsman, Ohio.
In 1907, San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel opened, a year to the day after the
In 1934, the first laundromat (called a ''washateria'') opened, in Fort Worth,
In 1942, an air squadron from the USS Hornet led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle
raided Tokyo and other Japanese cities.
In 1945, famed American war correspondent Ernie Pyle, 44, was killed by Japanese
gunfire on the Pacific island of Ie Shima, off Okinawa.
In 1946, the League of Nations went out of business.
In 1955, physicist Albert Einstein died in Princeton, N.J., at age 76.
In 1980, the independent nation of Zimbabwe, formerly Zimbabwe Rhodesia, came
In 1983, 63 people, including 17 Americans, were killed at the U.S. Embassy in
Beirut, Lebanon, by a suicide bomber.
Ten years ago: President Clinton held a news conference in which he warned
Republicans that a balanced-budget deal might not come quickly, while reassuring
nervous Democrats that he would not abandon the party's prized social programs.
Five years ago: Four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were killed when they were
mistakenly bombed by an American F-16 pilot. Police arrested actor Robert Blake
in the shooting death of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, nearly a year earlier
(Blake was acquitted at his criminal trial but found liable in a civil trial).
Amtrak's Auto Train derailed near Crescent City, Fla., killing four passengers.
Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl died near Colla Michari, Italy, at age 87.
One year ago: President Bush reshuffled his economic team, appointing Rob
Portman his new budget chief. Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in the Seattle
area for talks with business leaders before heading to Washington. Suri Cruise,
daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, was born.
Today's Birthdays: Actress Barbara Hale is 86. Actor Clive Revill is 77. Actor
James Drury is 73. Actor Robert Hooks is 70. Actress Hayley Mills is 61. Actor
James Woods is 60. Actress-director Dorothy Lyman is 60. Actress Cindy Pickett
is 60. Country musician Walt Richmond (The Tractors) is 60. Country musician Jim
Scholten (Sawyer Brown) is 55. Actor Rick Moranis is 54. Actress Melody Thomas
Scott is 51. Actor Eric Roberts is 51. Actor John James is 51. Rock musician Les
Pattinson (Echo and the Bunnymen) is 49. Actress Jane Leeves is 46. Talk show
host Conan O'Brien is 44. Bluegrass singer-musician Terry Eldredge is 44. Actor
Eric McCormack is 44. Actress Maria Bello is 40. Rock musician Greg Eklund (The
Oolahs) is 37. Rhythm-and-blues singer Trina (Trina and Tamara) is 33. Actress
Melissa Joan Hart is 31. Actor Sean Maguire is 31. Actress America Ferrera
(''Ugly Betty'') is 23. Actress Alia Shawkat is 18.
Thought for Today: ''One of the paradoxes of war is that those in the rear want
to get up into the fight, while those in the lines want to get out.'' -- Ernie
Pyle, American war correspondent (1900-1945).
April 2, 2007
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 12:03 a.m. ET
The New York Times
Today is Monday, April 2, the 92nd day of 2007. There are 273
days left in the year. The Jewish holiday Passover begins at sunset.
Today's Highlight in History:
On April 2, 1917, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war against
Germany, saying, ''The world must be made safe for democracy.''
On this date:
In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed in Florida.
In 1792, Congress passed the Coinage Act, which authorized establishment of the
In 1805, storyteller Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark.
In 1865, Confederate President Davis and most of his Cabinet fled the
Confederate capital of Richmond, Va., because of advancing Union forces.
In 1872, Samuel F.B. Morse, developer of the electric telegraph, died in New
In 1932, aviator Charles A. Lindbergh and John F. Condon went to a cemetery in
New York City's Bronx borough, where Condon turned over $50,000 to an
unidentified man in exchange for Lindbergh's kidnapped son. (The child, however,
was not returned, and was found dead the following month.)
In 1974, French president Georges Pompidou died in Paris.
In 1982, several thousand troops from Argentina seized the disputed Falkland
Islands, located in the south Atlantic, from Britain. (Britain seized the
islands back the following June.)
In 1986, four American passengers were killed when a bomb exploded aboard a TWA
jetliner en route from Rome to Athens, Greece.
In 2005, Pope John Paul II, who'd led the Roman Catholic Church for 26 years,
died in his Vatican apartment at age 84.
Ten years ago: The White House released documents showing how eager it had been
to exploit the money-drawing powers of President Clinton and Vice President Gore
during the 1996 campaign while coordinating with the Democratic Party's
Five years ago: Israel seized control of Bethlehem; Palestinian gunmen forced
their way into the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus,
where they began a 39-day standoff.
One year ago: Journalist Jill Carroll arrived in Boston, tearfully embracing her
parents and twin sister after 82 days as a hostage in Iraq. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw made a surprise trip
to Iraq to urge its leaders to form a unified government. Tornadoes killed 23
people in Tennessee and four others in the South and Midwest.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Dabbs Greer is 90. Actress Rita Gam is 79. Actress
Sharon Acker is 72. Singer Leon Russell is 65. Jazz musician Larry Coryell is
64. Actress Linda Hunt is 62. Singer Emmylou Harris is 60. Actress Pamela Reed
is 58. Rock musician Dave Robinson (The Cars) is 54. Country singer Buddy Jewell
is 46. Actor Christopher Meloni is 46. Singer Keren Woodward (Bananarama) is 46.
Country singer Billy Dean is 45. Actress Jana Marie Hupp is 43. Rock musician
Greg Camp (Smash Mouth) is 40. Rock musician Tony Fredianelli (Third Eye Blind)
is 38. Actress Roselyn Sanchez is 34. Country singer Jill King is 32. Actor Adam
Rodriguez is 32. Actor Jeremy Garrett is 31. Rock musician Jesse Carmichael
(Maroon 5) is 28. Actress Bethany Joy Lenz (''One Tree Hill'') is 26. Actor
Jesse Plemons is 19.
Thought for Today: ''Most of us love from our need to love, not because we find
someone deserving.'' -- Nikki Giovanni, American poet.
March 7, 2007
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 8:20 a.m. ET
The New York Times
Today is Wednesday, March 7, the 66th day of 2007. There are
299 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On March 7, 1965, a march by civil rights demonstrators was broken up in Selma,
Ala., by state troopers and a sheriff's posse.
On this date:
In 1849, horticulturist Luther Burbank was born in Lancaster, Mass.
In 1850, in a three-hour speech to the U.S. Senate, Daniel Webster endorsed the
Compromise of 1850 as a means of preserving the Union.
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for his telephone.
In 1911, the United States sent 20,000 troops to the Mexican border as a
precaution in the wake of the Mexican Revolution.
In 1926, the first successful trans-Atlantic radio-telephone conversations took
place, between New York and London.
In 1936, Adolf Hitler ordered his troops to march into the Rhineland, thereby
breaking the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pact.
In 1945, during World War II, U.S. forces crossed the Rhine River at Remagen,
Germany, using the damaged but still usable Ludendorff Bridge.
In 1975, the Senate revised its filibuster rule, allowing 60 senators to limit
debate in most cases, instead of the previously required two-thirds of senators
In 1981, anti-government guerrillas in Colombia executed kidnapped American
Bible translator Chester Allen Bitterman, whom they accused of being a CIA
In 1994, the Supreme Court ruled that a parody that pokes fun at an original
work can be considered ''fair use'' that doesn't require permission from the
Ten years ago: After a week of embarrassing disclosures about White House
fundraising, President Clinton told a news conference, ''I'm not sure, frankly''
whether he'd also made calls for campaign cash. But he insisted that nothing had
undercut his pledge to have the highest ethical standards ever.
Five years ago: The House passed 417-3 a bill cutting taxes and extending
unemployment benefits. By a razor-thin margin, voters in Ireland rejected a
government plan to further toughen the country's already strict anti-abortion
One year ago: The Bush administration drew a hard line on Iran, warning of
''meaningful consequences'' if the Islamic government did not back away from an
international confrontation over its disputed nuclear program. Nobel Peace
laureate Oscar Arias was declared Costa Rica's president-elect. Photographer and
movie director Gordon Parks died in New York at age 93.
Today's Birthdays: Comedian Alan Sues is 81. Photographer Lord Snowdon is 77. TV
personality Willard Scott is 73. Auto racer Janet Guthrie is 69. Actor Daniel J.
Travanti is 67. Former Walt Disney Company chief executive officer Michael
Eisner is 65. Rock musician Chris White (The Zombies) is 64. Actor John Heard is
61. Rock singer Peter Wolf is 61. Rock musician Matthew Fisher (Procol Harum) is
61. Football Hall-of-Famer Franco Harris is 57. Football Hall-of-Famer Lynn
Swann is 55. Rhythm-and-blues singer-musician Ernie Isley (The Isley Brothers)
is 55. Actor Bryan Cranston is 51. Actress Donna Murphy is 48. Tennis
Hall-of-Famer Ivan Lendl is 47. Actor Bill Brochtrup is 44. Opera singer Denyce
Graves is 43. Comedian Wanda Sykes is 43. Singer-actress Taylor Dayne is 42.
Rock musician Randy Guss (Toad the Wet Sprocket) is 40. Actor Peter Sarsgaard is
36. Actress Rachel Weisz is 36. Classical singer Sebastien Izambard (Il Divo) is
34. Rock singer Hugo Ferreira (Tantric) is 33. Actress Jenna Fischer is 33.
Actress Laura Prepon is 27.
Thought for Today: ''If you're not feeling good about you, what you're wearing
outside doesn't mean a thing.'' -- Leontyne Price, American opera singer.
January 17, 2007
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 6:59 a.m. ET
The New York Times
Today is Wednesday, Jan. 17, the 17th day of 2007. There are
348 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Jan. 17, 1945, Soviet and Polish forces liberated Warsaw during World War II.
On this date:
In 1893, the 19th president of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, died in
Fremont, Ohio, at age 70.
In 1893, Hawaii's monarchy was overthrown as a group of businessmen and sugar
planters forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate.
In 1917, the United States paid Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.
In 1919, pianist and statesman Ignace Jan Paderewski became the first premier of
the newly created republic of Poland.
In 1945, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, credited with saving tens of
thousands of Jews, disappeared in Hungary while in Soviet custody.
In 1961, in his farewell address, President Eisenhower warned against the rise
of ''the military-industrial complex.''
In 1966, a U.S. Air Force B-52 carrying four unarmed hydrogen bombs crashed on
the Spanish coast. (Three of the bombs were quickly recovered, but the fourth
wasn't found until April.)
In 1977, convicted murderer Gary Gilmore, 36, was shot by a firing squad at Utah
State Prison in the first U.S. execution in a decade.
In 1994, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck Southern California, killing at least
60 people and causing $20 billion in damage.
In 1995, more than 6,000 people were killed when an earthquake with a magnitude
of 7.2 devastated the city of Kobe, Japan.
Ten years ago: Speaker Newt Gingrich agreed to submit to a reprimand by the
House and pay a $300,000 penalty as punishment for his ethics violations. Israel
handed over its military headquarters in Hebron to the Palestinians, ending 30
years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank city. A court in Ireland granted
the first divorce in the Roman Catholic country's history.
Five years ago: Enron fired accounting firm Arthur Andersen, citing its
destruction of thousands of documents and its accounting advice; for its part,
Andersen said its relationship with Enron ended in early December 2001 when the
company slid into the biggest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. A
Palestinian gunman walked into a confirmation party in northern Israel and
opened fire with an assault rifle, killing six people; the gunman was killed by
One year ago: The Supreme Court protected Oregon's assisted-suicide law, ruling
that doctors there who helped terminally ill patients die could not be arrested
under federal drug laws. Hostage American reporter Jill Carroll appeared in a
silent 20-second video aired by Al-Jazeera television, which said her abductors
had given the United States 72 hours to free female prisoners in Iraq or she
would be killed. (Carroll was freed unharmed on March 30, 2006.) California
executed convicted killer Clarence Ray Allen a day after his 76th birthday.
Today's Birthdays: Actress Betty White is 85. Singer-actress Eartha Kitt is 80.
Actor James Earl Jones is 76. Talk show host Maury Povich is 68. Former
heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is 65. Rhythm-and-blues singer William
Hart (The Delfonics) is 62. Rock musician Mick Taylor is 59. Rhythm-and-blues
singer Sheila Hutchinson (The Emotions) is 54. Singer Steve Earle is 52. Singer
Paul Young is 51. Actor-comedian Steve Harvey is 50. Singer Susanna Hoffs (The
Bangles) is 48. Actor-comedian Jim Carrey is 45. Actor Joshua Malina is 41.
Singer Shabba Ranks is 41. Actor Naveen Andrews is 38. Rapper Kid Rock is 36.
Actor Freddy Rodriguez is 32. Actress Zooey Deschanel is 27. Singer Ray J is 26.
Country singer Amanda Wilkinson is 25.
Thought for Today: ''If there is one basic element in our Constitution, it is
civilian control of the military.'' -- President Truman (1884-1972).
December 21, 2006
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 12:30 p.m. ET
The New York Times
Today is Thursday, Dec. 21, the 355th day of
2006. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 7:22 p.m. EST.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 21, 1620, Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore for the first time
at present-day Plymouth, Mass.
On this date:
In 1804, British statesman Benjamin Disraeli was born in London.
In 1913, the first crossword puzzle was published, in the New York World.
In 1942, the Supreme Court ruled all states had to recognize divorces granted in
In 1945, Gen. George S. Patton died in Heidelberg, Germany, of injuries from a
In 1948, the state of Eire, or Ireland (formerly the Irish Free State), declared
In 1968, Apollo 8 was launched on a mission to orbit the moon.
In 1971, the U.N. Security Council chose Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as
In 1976, the Liberian-registered tanker Argo Merchant broke apart near Nantucket
Island almost a week after running aground, spilling 7.5 million gallons of oil
into the North Atlantic.
In 1988, 270 people were killed when a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pan Am
Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, sending wreckage crashing to the ground.
In 1995, the city of Bethlehem passed from Israeli to Palestinian control.
Ten years ago: After two years of denials, House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted
violating House ethics rules. AIDS researcher Dr. David Ho was named Time
magazine's ''Man of the Year.''
Five years ago: The Islamic militant group Hamas announced it was suspending
suicide bombings and mortar attacks in Israel. President Bush signed the
Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, which required the African
nation to adopt land ownership protections in order to continue receiving U.S.
aid. Emmy-winning sports broadcaster and author Dick Schaap died in New York at
One year ago: The Senate rejected opening an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil
drilling. The Senate approved a six-month extension of the USA Patriot Act to
keep the anti-terror law from expiring on Dec. 31, 2005.
Today's Birthdays: Former Austrian president and former U.N. Secretary General
Kurt Waldheim is 88. Country singer Freddie Hart is 80. Actor Ed Nelson is 78.
Talk show host Phil Donahue is 71. Movie director John Avildsen is 71. Actress
Jane Fonda is 69. Actor Larry Bryggman is 68. Singer Carla Thomas is 64.
Musician Albert Lee is 63. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is 62. Actor Samuel
L. Jackson is 58. Movie producer Jeffrey Katzenberg is 56. Singer Betty Wright
is 53. Tennis star Chris Evert is 52. Actress Jane Kaczmarek is 51. Country
singer Lee Roy Parnell is 50. Entertainer Jim Rose is 50. Actor-comedian Ray
Romano is 49. Country singer Christy Forester (The Forester Sisters) is 44. Rock
musician Murph (Dinosaur Jr.) is 42. Actor-comedian Andy Dick is 41. Rock
musician Gabrielle Glaser is 41. Actor Kiefer Sutherland is 40. Actress Karri
Turner (''JAG'') is 40. Actress Khrystyne Haje is 38. Country singer Brad Warren
(The Warren Brothers) is 38. Actress Julie Delpy is 37. Singer-musician Brett
Scallions is 35. Rock singer Lukas Rossi (Rock Star Supernova) is 30. Country
singer Luke Stricklin is 24.
Thought for Today:
''Winter comes but once a year,
And when it comes it brings the doctor good cheer.'' -- Ogden Nash, American
Thanksgiving was my birthday this year
and I find two holidays in one is not
efficient. In fact, barely anything gets
done; neither the bird nor the passage
of the year is digested. Luckily, Black
Friday offers new pleasures while remaining
a stolen day; a day after. There is shopping,
the streets, or the hilarious malls, but I will
stay home with the leftovers and use
the time to rethink, turkey leg in hand like
a king. Pumpkin pie, solid soup of
pummeled end-of-summer. Chestnuts and
sausage chunks from stuffing plucked
regally, like an ape leisurely denuding
a blueberry bush of its fruit. Maybe I mean
Cleopatra's teeth accepting red grapes from
a solicitous lunk of nubility. Same image.
The hand feeds, the mouth gets fed. You
too? Mother ate turkey in the maternity?
Imagine, you not-born-in-late-Novembers,
if every few years a bird adjoined your
candles. Think, too, who comes to eat
that bird. Those whose faces look like
yours; those nearly-yous and knew you
whens; those have your same ill eases.
How's the sciatica? Fine, how's yours?
The world is old. Cleopatra might
have liked Black Friday. It's as engaging
as a barge with a fast gold sofa. She also
might have liked aging. At least preferred
it to the asp. Yellow leaf-patterned
sunlight dazzles the wall with its dapple.
It's all happening now, as I write. This is
journalism. No part of the memoir
is untrue. Though I probably will
go to the mall, if everyone else goes.
IT'S a badly kept secret among scholars of
American history that nothing much really happened on Thursday, July 4, 1776.
Although this date is emblazoned on the Declaration, the Colonies had actually
voted for independence two days earlier; the document wasn't signed until a
month later. When John Adams predicted that the "great anniversary festival"
would be celebrated forever, from one end of the continent to the other, he was
talking about July 2.
Indeed, the dates that truly made a difference aren't always the ones we know by
heart; frequently, they've languished in dusty oblivion. The 10 days that follow
— obscure as some are — changed American history. (In some cases, they are
notable for what didn't happen rather than what did.)
This list is quirky rather than comprehensive, and readers may want to continue
the parlor game on their own. But while historians may argue endlessly about
causes and effects — many even question the idea that any single day can alter
the course of human events — these examples show that destiny can turn on a
slender pivot, and that history often occurs when nobody is watching.
Anyway, happy Second of July.
JUNE 8, 1610: A Lord's Landfall
Three years after its founding, the Virginia Colony was a failure. A few dozen
starving settlers packed some meager possessions and sailed from Jamestown on
June 7, headed back toward England. The next morning, to their surprise, they
spotted a fleet coming toward them, carrying a new governor, Lord De La Warr,
and a year's worth of supplies.
If not for his appearance, Virginia might have gone the way of so many lost
colonies. What is now the Southeastern United States could well have ended up in
the French or Dutch empires. Tobacco might never have become a cash crop, and
the first African slaves would not have arrived in 1619.
OCT. 17, 1777: Victory Along the Hudson
If one date should truly get credit for securing America's independence, it is
when the British general John Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga.
The battle's significance was more diplomatic than military: shortly after news
reached Paris, the French king decided to enter the war on the American side.
"If the French alliance and funding hadn't come through at that moment, it's
hard to say how much longer we could have held out," says Stacy Schiff, author
of "A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America." The
American Revolution might have gone down in history as a brief provincial
uprising, and the Declaration of Independence as a nice idea.
JUNE 20, 1790: Jefferson's Dinner Party
On this evening, Thomas Jefferson invited Alexander Hamilton and James Madison
to dinner at his rented house on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan. In the course
of the night, Jefferson recalled, they brokered one of the great political deals
in American history. Under the terms of the arrangement, the national capital
would be situated on the Potomac, and the federal government would agree to take
on the enormous war debts of the 13 states.
Had that meal never taken place, New York might still be the nation's capital.
But even more important, the primacy of the central government might never have
been established, says Ron Chernow, the Hamilton biographer. "The assumption of
state debts was the most powerful bonding mechanism of the new Union," he says.
"Without it, we would have had a far more decentralized federal system."
APRIL 19, 1802: Mosquitos Win the West
Events that change America don't always occur within our borders. Consider the
spring of 1802. Napoleon had sent a formidable army under his brother-in-law,
General Charles Leclerc, to quell the rebellion of former slaves in Haiti.
On April 19, Leclerc reported to Napoleon that the rainy season had arrived, and
his troops were falling ill. By the end of the year, almost the whole French
force, including Leclerc himself, were dead of mosquito-borne yellow fever.
When Napoleon realized his reconquest had failed, he abandoned hopes of a New
World empire, and decided to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States.
"Across a huge section of the American heartland, from New Orleans up through
Montana, they ought to build statues to Toussaint L'Ouverture and the other
heroes of the Haitian Revolution," says Ted Widmer, director of the John Carter
Brown Library at Brown University.
JAN. 12, 1848: An Ill-Advised Speech
His timing couldn't have been worse: With the Mexican War almost won, a freshman
congressman rose to deliver a blistering attack on President Polk and his
"half-insane" aggressive militarism. Almost from the moment he sat down again,
the political career of Representative Abraham Lincoln seemed doomed by the
antiwar stand he had taken just when most Americans were preparing their victory
Yet that speech saved Lincoln. "It cast him into the political wilderness," says
Joshua Wolf Shenk, the author of "Lincoln's Melancholy." This insulated him
during the politically treacherous years of the early 1850's — when Americans
divided bitterly over slavery — and positioned him to emerge as a national
leader on the eve of the Civil War. Lincoln's early faux pas also taught him to
be a pragmatist, not just a moralist. "If he had been successful in the 1840's,
the Lincoln of history — the Lincoln who saved the Union — would never have
existed," Mr. Shenk says.
APRIL 16, 1902: The Movies
Motion pictures seemed destined to become a passing fad. Only a few years after
Edison's first crude newsreels were screened — mostly in penny arcades,
alongside carnival games and other cheap attractions, the novelty had worn off,
and Americans were flocking back to live vaudeville.
Then, in spring 1902, Thomas L. Tally opened his Electric Theater in Los
Angeles, a radical new venture devoted to movies and other high-tech devices of
the era, like audio recordings.
"Tally was the first person to offer a modern multimedia entertainment
experience to the American public," says the film historian Marc Wanamaker.
Before long, his successful movie palace produced imitators nationally, which
would become known as "nickelodeons." America's love affair with the moving
image — from the silver screen to YouTube — would endure after all.
FEB. 15, 1933: The Wobbly Chair
It should have been an easy shot: five rounds at 25 feet. But the gunman,
Giuseppe Zangara, an anarchist, lost his balance atop a wobbly chair, and
instead of hitting President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, he fatally wounded the
mayor of Chicago, who was shaking hands with F.D.R.
Had Roosevelt been assassinated, his conservative Texas running mate, John Nance
Garner, would most likely have come to power. "The New Deal, the move toward
internationalism — these would never have happened," says Alan Brinkley of
Columbia University. "It would have changed the history of the world in the 20th
century. I don't think the Kennedy assassination changed things as much as
Roosevelt's would have."
MARCH 2, 1955: Almost a Heroine
When a brave young African-American woman was arrested for refusing to give up
her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, local and national civil rights leaders
rallied to her cause. Claudette Colvin, 15, seemed poised to become an icon of
the struggle against segregation. But then, shortly after her March 2 arrest,
she became pregnant. The movement's leaders decided that an unwed teenage mother
would not make a suitable symbol, so they pursued a legal case with another
volunteer: Rosa Parks.
That switch, says the historian Douglas Brinkley, created a delay that allowed
Martin Luther King Jr. to emerge as a leader. He most likely would not have led
the bus boycott if it had occurred in the spring instead of the following
winter. "He might have ended up as just another Montgomery preacher," Professor
SEPT. 18, 1957: Revolt of the Nerds
Fed up with their boss, eight lab workers walked off the job on this day in
Mountain View, Calif. Their employer, William Shockley, had decided not to
continue research into silicon-based semiconductors; frustrated, they decided to
undertake the work on their own. The researchers — who would become known as
"the traitorous eight" — went on to invent the microprocessor (and to found
Intel, among other companies). "Sept. 18 was the birth date of Silicon Valley,
of the electronics industry and of the entire digital age," says Mr. Shockley's
biographer, Joel Shurkin.
AUG. 20, 1998: Just Missed
With most Americans absorbed by the Monica Lewinsky affair, relatively few paid
much attention when the United States fired some 60 cruise missiles at Qaeda
training camps in Afghanistan. Most public debate centered on whether President
Clinton had ordered the strike to deflect attention from his domestic troubles.
Although the details of that day remain in dispute, some accounts suggest that
the attack may have missed killing Osama bin Laden by as little as an hour. How
that would have changed America — and the world — may be revealed, in time, by
the history that is still unfolding.
Adam Goodheart is director of the C.V. Starr Center
Thanksgiving is always a busy time for Julie
She and her younger sister, Cathy, help in the kitchen with the apple pie,
mixing the flour and remembering, Julie said, to "take turns so everything is
fair." Then they work on the day's costumes, assembling Pilgrim hats out of
black construction paper.
During dinner, she is happy to entertain questions from guests about the history
of one of her favorite holidays, which she has researched on the Internet. "I
remember learning that they didn't get along that well when they first met,"
said 11-year-old Julie of the Pilgrims and the Indians. "And then they just put
aside their differences and just had a big feast together."
Julie's parents, Russian immigrants who live in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, say
they are proud their daughter has become so fascinated with this most American
of traditions. "She has to live here," said her father, Vladimir Sorokurs, 51, a
high school social worker who did not know Thanksgiving existed before coming to
America in 1988. "She has to adopt everything. She's American."
Every November, Thanksgiving - a celebration of the original immigrant feast -
plays out in this city of immigrants as the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians
could have hardly fathomed in 1621: a cross-cultural hodgepodge holiday
improvised by new American families often inspired and instructed by some of
their youngest members. The children of immigrants act as pint-size ambassadors
of all things Thanksgiving, urging parents throughout the world to prepare
all-American turkey meals that they learned about in school and sharing their
incomplete yet innocently sweet knowledge of the holiday's origins.
Olga Espinal, 31, said most of what she learned about the history of
Thanksgiving has come from her daughter. Ms. Espinal came to New York seven
years ago from Colombia, and today she planned a combination Thanksgiving
celebration and birthday party for her daughter, Daniela Rico, who turns 10
Daniela said helping her mother learn about the holiday was easy. "I read a book
about Thanksgiving," said Daniela, who is in the fifth grade and lives with her
mother in Howard Beach, Queens. "I told her what I read in the book. I read
about what they celebrated on the first Thanksgiving and why. I didn't get to
read the whole book, because it was a pretty big book."
Giselle Vasquez, 6, also gave her father a quick Pilgrims-and-Indians history
lesson. "My daughter told me that when they came to America, they started to
celebrate the first dinner," said Mr. Vasquez, 28, who is Mexican-American and
who picked up Giselle at Public School 295 in Brooklyn yesterday.
Sometimes, the children are not so much teachers as they are cheerleaders.
Occasionally, they are simply culinary advisers. Maha Attieh, 47, a
Jordanian-born Palestinian, takes her children to the supermarket when she goes
shopping for Thanksgiving, which she usually celebrates at her home in Midwood,
Brooklyn, with a turkey stuffed with rice, chicken cutlets, nuts and raisins.
"They make their own menu," said Mrs. Attieh, who works at the Arab-American
Family Support Center in Brooklyn. "What they hear in school, what they hear
from friends, they want the same thing. I say, 'As long as it's halal meat, I'll
do it.' "
In diverse New York City, an introduction to the holiday is essential. The
foreign-born population makes up 36 percent of the city's eight million
residents, according to the United States Census Bureau, and many speak a
language other than English at home. The lessons that immigrant children teach
their parents about Thanksgiving illustrates the larger role these children
often play in interpreting American culture for their elders.
"Given that English as a second language classes are pretty hard to come by
unless you've got money, it's sort of inevitable that children of recent
immigrants who don't speak English are a huge fount of information about
American culture," said Andrew White, director of the Center for New York City
Affairs, a policy and research institute at the New School in Manhattan.
Gary Gerstle, a history professor at the University of Maryland who has studied
the Americanization of immigrants, said Thanksgiving has become one of the more
accessible holidays for newcomers, free from religious or political affiliation.
The notion of gathering friends and family around a lavish spread of meats and
beverages, on a day off from work and school, appeals to all.
"Thanksgiving has become not a way to honor the Pilgrims and the Indians, but to
affirm the importance of family togetherness," Mr. Gerstle said. "It makes the
transition for immigrants into this holiday rather easy. They can be affirming
their own family, while at the same time affirming something that is central to
Not all children of immigrants get a chance to instruct on Thanksgiving. They
have not had time.
"Yesterday, my father told me about this holiday," said Yan Shalomov, 7, who
arrived in the United States three weeks ago with his family from Uzbekistan. He
went yesterday to the Manhattan offices of the New York Association for New
Americans, a nonprofit immigrant services group. His father said they will
celebrate Thanksgiving today at his aunt's house, where Yan will eat, for the
first time, turkey.
"It's important for us and it's interesting," said Yan's father, Robert, who
along with his son spoke with the aid of a translator. "We want to be part of
Valentina Tkachenko, 14, remembers her first Thanksgiving. It was just a few
months after she arrived here from Ukraine in 1999, and her family gathered at
her grandparents' home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. They put up turkey decorations
in the windows. They watched the parade on television. The tastes and the sights
were new and strange and exciting.
"The Pilgrims were becoming Americans," she recalled, "and now, so were we."
Janon Fisher and Ann Farmer contributed reporting
for this article.