I like comparative lists and there are people who enjoy making lists. I have searched the following:
- who are the top 10 American athletes
- who are the top 10 best musicians in history
- who are the top 10 most beautiful women on the planet today
- who are the top 10 writers
- who are the top 10 American Presidents
Depending on the list maker’s preferences in sports, music, definition of physical beauty, literary tastes and political leanings, there are many different Top 10 Lists compiled.
With some lists there are few discussions who or what events appear on a list as with the FBI 10 Most Wanted list. And with the 10 Most Important Men in History, the universal favorites on all lists in the following order were Mohammed, Jesus, and Buddha.
I most certainly had a historical bias regarding the significance of 911 in United States history. But I was surprised what events did make the 10 Most Significant Events in U.S. History list as well as the events, which did not.
Most compiled 10 Most Significant Events in U.S. History lists had the American Revolution, the Civil War, WW2, and Louisiana Purchase (an event never in a million years I would have thought of), Pearl Harbor, 911, and the Kennedy Assassination. To my surprise the Korean War and WW1 did not appear on any of the lists I viewed.
Some of the lists were very broad in their listings and included the Civil Rights Movement, the McCarthy Era, the Cold War, and the War on Terror. One list included inventions and scientific discoveries as being some of the most significant events in United States history.
So I changed my Google search to the following: what were the
10 Worst Events in American History? The results were equally intriguing with 911 appearing on all of the lists. Others listed the 1929 Stock Market Crash, Pearl Harbor, the Trail of Tears, American Japanese Internment in WW11, and very specific military battles with high casualties.
The 911 death toll was almost 3000 men, women, and children. Though the death toll was large enough, there were individual battle deaths in the American Civil War and both World Wars that were five and seven times that number. But why does 911 seem to make both lists of most significant or worst events in United States history and is placed ahead of higher death toll battles?
Perhaps 911 appears on most lists because of the very clear television broadcasts of the event to the millions of American households. The clear visual images and sounds are cemented in our memories. And unlike the grainy pictures of WW2 and even Vietnam, when the 911 event is re-telecast on its anniversary viewers relive the event as if it was just occurring.
Fifty or seventy years from now when future Americans view the 911 telecasts and videos, due to the visual and sound clarity the future generations will have an excellent visual historical record of a most important event.