On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Ariel Dorfman, Walter Hines Page Research professor of Literature and Latin American Studies in the Duke University Center for International Studies and Professor of Romance Studies has written an “Epitaph for Another September 11,” to be published in next week’s edition of The Nation.
That September 11, that lethal Tuesday morning, I awoke with dread to the sound of planes flying above my house. When, an hour later, I saw smoke billowing from the center of the city, I knew that life had changed for me, for my country, forever.
It was September 11, 1973, and the country was Chile and the armed forces had just bombed the presidential palace in Santiago as the first stage of a coup against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. By the end of the day, Allende was dead and the land where we had sought a peaceful revolution had been turned into a slaughterhouse. It would be almost two decades, most of which I spent in exile, before we defeated the dictatorship and recovered our freedom.
Twenty-eight years after that fateful day in 1973, on another September 11, also a Tuesday morning, it was the turn of another city that was equally mine to be attacked from on high, it was another sort of terror that rained down, but again my heart filled with dread, again I confirmed that nothing would ever be the same, not for me, not for the world. It was not the history of one homeland that would be affected, not one people who would endure the consequences of fury and hatred, but the entire planet.