On September 11, Catalonia commemorates the 1714 Siege of Barcelona defeat that meant the loss of independence, the abolition of all Catalan institutions, constitutions, rights and freedoms, and the begining of a centuries-long persecution for the culture, traditions and language of its people.
Many have published articles in Help Catalonia in our few months of existence, and we asked them to briefly answer what 11 of September is for them. These are their short points.
For those who don't know us or who've never experienced something similar first-hand, it is hard to imagine that a country might celebrate a defeat on its national day. Why do we do this? We do it in order not to forget than not so long ago we used to have our own laws and institutions, and we used to be economically, socially, politically, and financially independent. On that day we lost it all. We celebrate it in order to remind ourselves that we need to regain that which should have never been taken away from us.
Dearest, I am Catalan and I know that's not enough. In times of tribulations of all kinds, we must begin to be able to want to decide for ourselves, and do it. Enough of filling drawers with projects: As long as we are healthy and happy, strife shall not daunt us!
Catalonia's National Day is our chance as individuals, but for our government as well, to defend our heritage, that which we are, and what we want to be. To demand the freedom which was taken away from us, the freedom we want to regain with the right of self-determination.
Anna Simó, Minister of Wellfare (2003-2006)n@AnnaSimoaSimo)
For me, 9/11 is the day I go out into the street with my starred Catalan flag, myEstelada, I walk together with thousands of people with whom I share the same wish. I go back home knowing that we are not a few and that one day, the independence of Catalonia will be possible.
The eleventh of September is the National Day of Catalonia. It marks the siege of Barcelona -the capital city- in 1714 by the Castilian troops of the bourbon king Philip V, and the subsequent loss of the catalan government, public institutions and civil rights as well as the begining of the persecution of our culture, until today.
During the Spanish War of Succession, when the Catalan soldiers swore their oath to the flag, they shouted in unison “Donec Perficiam!” in Latin, which means “Until we achieve it!” That is the message for our Remembrance day. Rebirth without lament.
The 11th of September reminds me of the end of the Franco dictatorship, the last year, because it was only then that I learned of the events of the 11th of September of 1714. It was quite a shock to learn how far they had manipulated our history.
September 11 is the day when we realize many things: that we are a small nation with a great history; that we have our own language, the main pillar of our culture; that we not are present yet in many international organisms. The fight must go on!
For me, September the 11th is a day to confirm our commitment to Catalonia: to its people, their language and their culture. The day after the 11th of September, 1714, the Catalan people started over. We are the heirs to those courageous people who, with self-denial, rebuilt our country.
Joan Badia i Pujol, Deputy Director of Permanent Education and Pedagogical Resources (2004-2006), Director of Innovation (2006-2009), Deputy Director of Academic University Planning (2009-2010), Deputy Director of European Higher Education (2009-2010) (@jbadiap)Read my previous articles
The 11th of September marks the final resistance of the city of Barcelona after the invasion of Catalonia by French and Spanish troops. But it was also the last of a series of strategic errors, the most important of which was believing in the change of the political model for Spain. If the Catalans had wanted freedom for the Catalan Nation, we may well have achieved it. But in the end, the change of dynasty for an absolutist monarchy was forced upon us. Now, the Catalans seem not to have learned from the past and we continue hoping for a change of model of the Spanish state rather than working towards our own state and our political freedom.
Jordi Bilbeny, investigator
Let's remember the bravery and loyalty of an entire generation of Catalans who, on 1714 lost their lives and possessions defending a five hundred year old heritage of political independence. They are the symbol of all those who have fought and fight for a free Catalonia.
This is a day to fight for the Catalan citizens' rights and liberties, which were taken away by force of arms, and keep being curtailed by partisan imposition from within a democracy that is such only in name. On this very day, in the late sixties, is when I began to take part in underground actions against the only fascist dictatorship that's never been denounced by Europe.
When you're young, and they tell you that you are Catalan, you don't quite understand what this means. But in time, you come to enjoy it. You learn to recognize the symbols, like the Barça, and the fact that you speak a different language. After a while, you end up identifying with all this, and finally understand that being Catalan is no better or worse than belonging to any other country. However, you still are grateful to be Catalan. One day someone tells you, like in a tale, about our nation's forefathers, and how they were persecuted and almost annihilated by the Bourbons, ancestors of the current king of Spain. Someone tells you how people defended our country in the streets, how they gave up the last drop of their blood in defense of our way of being. They tell you that this happened on the 11th of September, 1714. Finally, you stop wanting to belong to any other country, you want to belong to this country where people do not back down out of a fight, where speaking our own language is equivalent to building a trench in a war. You'll never forget you belong to this country. We Catalans know clearly what we want to be. So you feel very proud of your love for Catalonia, and for all the peoples of the world who fight to win their freedom.
September 11 is a wake-up call to our collective memories to recall the unwavering dignity of the combatants who defended till martyrdom our national and collective rights and freedoms. It is also a way to voice out our will to exist and to make decisions for ourselves.
On the holiday of September 11, we Catalans remember the fall of Barcelona during the Spanish War of Succession (1701-1715). On September 11th, 1714 Catalonia lost its freedom and its institutions were abolished. For me, every September 11 is a chance to remember the lost liberties and our duty as a people to regain them. Just out of dignity.
A feeling, our pride, a tradition, a special day when I hang the Catalan flag on my balcony, when I get together with my family, enjoy a good table, good conversation, and just the fact that I am a Catalan, while I teach my daughters about their roots and about caring for Catalonia.
Although we are celebrating a defeat, on this day we must be proud. Catalonia is a country with an old democratic tradition. we must move away from a position of resistance towards rebuilding our nation with a welcoming, open attitude, both globally and locally. Catalonia needs to overcome being part of Spain by taking advantage of Europe's sister nations. Integration of the recent waves of immigrants is our most pressing challenge.
September 11th: The foreign enemy demolishing our towers, annihilating men, women and children But today the Nation has recovered and is able to remember the tragic events with a wish for freedom. Our Nation is “Catalonia” and that September 11th was in 1714.
September the 11th is the remembrance of a defeat for a country that has become accustomed to losing and, notwithstanding, wanting to turn the course of history on its head, taking a run up, and ending up winning. And winning means, quite simply, being free, being a normal country.
For me, it is the symbol of a defeat, but it must also be like the Phoenix Firebirdthat is reborn from its ashes. Although it may seem senseless, many think September 11th 2014 will be the date of our freedom. I look forward to it!