When I awoke this morning, turned on my laptop I looked at the date and my brain immediately went “Ah it’s Trafalgar Day”. Just before you think I’m being crazy nationalistic, Admiral Horatio Nelson is one of the people I’d personally consider to be a hero & someone I look up to, hence I’m often quite happy when Trafalgar Day comes around.
Then, shortly afterwards, I was reminded of another event on this day, for which I must give a hat tip to Mark Cole, who reminded me that today is the 44th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster. As an Englishman, who went to school and for the first 18 years of my life, I’d occasionally heard of the Aberfan disaster, usually when it made it onto the national news.
This then spurred me to investigate more about what happened that day and for those of you who like me, don’t (or didn’t) know much about it, I definitely recommend a read of Mark’s blogpost. It’s a sobering, sad tale.
Looking at both of these events, we see a stark contrast, from the triumphal, innovative and hard fought victory which cost Lord Nelson & around 15,000 British, French & Spanish sailors & marines their lives and ended any hope for Napoleon of invading Great Britain. Placing this in perspective with the terrible disaster that was Aberfan, which was brought on by, as the Davies report at the time put it:
“the Aberfan Disaster is a terrifying tale of bungling ineptitude by many men charged with tasks for which they were totally unfitted, of failure to heed clear warnings, and of total lack of direction from above. Not villains but decent men, led astray by foolishness or by ignorance or by both in combination”
Two very striking stories. And incase you were wondering, yes many other things have occurred on the 21st of October, including:
- 1512 – Martin Luther joins the University of Wittenberg’s Theology faculty.
- 1600 – Tokugawa Ieysau wins the Battle of Sekigahara, leading to the foundation of the Tokugawa Shoganate, which will rule Japan until 1867.
- 1774 – Colonists at Taunton Massachusets raise a flag bearing the word Liberty in defiance of British rule.
- 1824 – Joseph Aspdin patents “Portland Cement”
- 1854 – Florence Nightingale & 38 nurses leave for the Crimea.
- 1867 – Medicine Lodge Treatyis signed by southern Great Plains Indian leaders. The treaty requires Native American Plains tribes to relocate a reservation in western Oklahoma.
- 1921 – President Warren G. Harding delivers the first speech by a sitting President against lynching in the deep south.
- 1944 – The first kamikaze attack: A Japanese plane carrying a 200 kilograms (440 lb) bomb attacks HMAS Australia off Leyte Island, as the Battle of Leyte Gulf began.
- 1945 – Women’s suffrage: Women are allowed to vote in France for the first time.
- 1963 – Józef Franczak the ”the last Polish anti-communist resistance fighter (or “cursed soldier) is ambushed & killed by government forces.
- 1967 – More than 100,000 war protesters gather in Washington, D.C.. A peaceful rally at the Lincoln Memorial is followed by a march to The Pentagon, during which clashes ensue.
- 1979 – Moshe Dayan resigns from the Israeli government because of disagreements with PM Menachem Begin over policy towards the Arabs.
- 1987 – Jaffna hospital massacre is carried out by Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka killing 70 ethnic Tamilpatients, doctors and nurses.
- 1994 – North Korea and the United States sign an agreement that requires North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program and agree to inspections.
Take from that list what you will, but it’s a very interesting mix of events, that will hopefully make you think….