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[Opinion] “Victory in 200 Years”

Posted July. 08, 2005 05:19,   


On October 21, 1805, 27 British ships-of-the-line led by Admiral Horatio Nelson and Napoleon’s 33-ship Franco-Spanish fleet confronted each other at the western end of Trafalgar in the Mediterranean Sea. Nelson, outnumbered, divided his fleet into two, attacking the enemy from its rear. Nelson’s command of the day was short: “Britain expects each man to do his duty.”

In the heat of battle, Nelson was shot by a sharpshooter. Before taking his last breath, and having recognized a great victory won by the British navy, he said, “I am now satisfied. Thank you God. I have completed my task.”

On November 19, 1598, 207 years before Trafalgar, Admiral Lee Sun-shin was shot by the enemy at the Battle of Noryang but said just before he died, “The battle must continue. Don’t tell others of my death.” Without Admiral Lee, the Joseon Dynasty would not have saved itself from Japan. Without Nelson, Britain would not have escaped itself from the danger of Napoleon’s invasion. Honorable generals have who saved their nations seem to have much in common, be they in the East or the West.

Trafalgar Square in Westminster City, London, was designed to honor the victory at Trafalgar. A few days ago, it was reported that crowds gathered in this square in London to applaud the victory. And they cheered loudly when they heard Wednesday that their city had unexpectedly overtaken Paris to win the 2012 Summer Olympic games. Their joy must have doubled as it came on the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar.

Britain and France have shared a long history of “viewing each other as enemies” since the “100 Years War” in the 14th and 15th centuries. That is why Britain is cheering and France is weeping.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has seen his reputation increase whereas French President Jacques Chirac has had his political reputation tarnished. In the second voting among the International Olympic Committee members, it was analyzed that votes for New York, which was left out in the middle, must have gone to London, leading one to readdress the triple relationship between the U.S., Britain and France. How would Nelson view this “victory after 200 years?”

Jeon Jin-woo, Editorial writer, youngji@donga.com