'And they did it as citizens': President Clinton on Thermopylae and United Airlines Flight 93

Lydia Langerwerf


Reviewing President Clinton’s speech in commemoration of the victims of UAF 93, held in Shanksville on September 10th, 2011, this paper examines the use of descriptions of the Battle of Thermopylae as a propaganda tool in times of national crisis and war. Reading the speech in the context of the 9/11 memorial tradition and its reception of president Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Thucydides’ account of Pericles’ Funeral Oration, as well as popular representations of the Spartans’ last stance, it discusses how these manipulations of history are used to propagate certain ideas of citizenship and democratic freedom and silences others. A comparison with Hermann Göring’s use of the myth of Thermopylae in a speech directed at soldiers in Stalingrad (1943) bears this out.

Key words: Bill Clinton, UAF 93, Thermopylae, Hermann Göring, 9/11 memorial tradition.   


Anhand einer Untersuchung der Rede von Präsident Clinton zum Gedenken an die Opfer von Flug UAF 93, gehalten in Shanksville am 10. September 2011, wird in diesem Artikel die Verwendung von Beschreibungen der Schlacht bei den Thermopylen als Propagandawerkzeug in Zeiten nationaler Krisen und Krieg untersucht. Wird die Rede gelesen im Zusammenhang mit der Tradition des Gedenken von 9/11 und seiner Rezeption der Gettysburg-Rede Präsident Lincolns und der Gefallenenrede des Perikles bei Thukydides, wie auch populärer Beschreibungen des letzten Kampfes an den Thermopylen, wird beschrieben wie diese Manipulationen der Geschichtsschreibung  verwendet werden, um bestimmte Ideen über Bürgergesellschaft und demokratische Freiheit hervorzuheben, während andere verschwiegen werden. Ein Vergleich mit Hermann Görings Verwendung des Mythos von der Schlacht an den Thermopylen in seiner Stalingrad Rede (1943) hebt dies hervor.               Schlüsselwörter: Bill Clinton, UAF 93, Thermopylen, Hermann Göring, 9/11 Tradition des Gedenkens.


Bill Clinton; UAF 93; Thermopylae; Hermann Göring; 9/11 memorial tradition


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