January 1, 2010

Let us never forget... Sidi Bou Zid

Word Note logo(This is an old post I stumbled upon from 2002, inspired by someone who had expressed disappointment upon discovering that the Wright Brothers had in fact flown not at Kitty Hawk, but at nearby Kill Devil Hill)

I wrote (and still think):

Names are part of the poetry of history. It's worth a bit of historical inaccuracy to get a name that rings in the mind.

What if the Battle of Waterloo had been called the Battle of Hougemont? Or Shiloh called The Battle of Pittsburg Landing? Ugh. Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed's Hill, but which is the better name?

Kitty Hawk is a splendid name, so it was the correct one to use. Nothing's really lost, because anyone who is interested in the subject soon learns about Kill Devil Hill.

And since I'm on the subject of battle-names, the American defeat at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia should really have been called Sidi Bou Zid, which is where the real defeat happened. Thank goodness somebody wasn't pedantic.

And I didn't mean that the names Waterloo or Shiloh were inaccurate. But the names were chosen from several possibilities, and probably because they were noble-sounding. For the happy few who still love history, hearing the word Shiloh immediately fills the mind with profound reflections; of bloodshed on a scale until then unknown, of courage and sacrifice, of the greatness of Ulysses Grant, and of a frontier faith that named a log-cabin church in the woods after a village in Palestine. And to think that it could just as easily been called The Battle of Owl Creek!

Thinking of names of battles, the North called it The Battle of Antietam; the South The Battle of Sharpsburg. Which is better? And would perhaps a certain battle be better remembered if it had a better name than The Meuse-Argonne Offensive?

Posted by John Weidner at January 1, 2010 7:43 AM
Weblog by John Weidner