9/11 and "Pearl Harbor."
My wife and I were sitting in our living room when our youngest son called and told us to turn on the TV. We watched in stunned disbelief as fire and smoke billowed from the first-struck tower and then in complete incredulity as the second airplane hit the other tower. We watched them crumble almost unable to believe we were watching reality.
In driving around town that day, and for a few days afterward, we were struck by how quiet things were. Traffic seemed to move with less rancor. Our flag store literally sold out all their American flags.
But having said that, I believe that if you asked anyone in their 70's or 80's they would tell you that the attack on the Twin Towers did not have as much emotional impact on them as did the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. More people died on 9/11, but America was a different country, in a very different time in 1941. Pearl Harbor enraged us, I believe, more than did 9/11.
By December 10, 1941 men were lining up outside the military recruiting stations to enlist, put on a uniform and go get "those Japs." As the Japanese Admiral Yamomoto said, "I fear we have done nothing but awaken a sleeping giant." We mourned the loss of life at Pearl Harbor but the prevailing feeling was anger. It seems to me that the prevailing emotion following 9/11 was and is, horror. For a few weeks following the attack on Twin Towers there was a wave of patriotism. That quickly dissipated and was replaced by partisan political debates.
The anger we felt following Pearl Harbor did NOT dissipate. If anything it grew stronger. Now, it seems to me, that the only commonly-felt emotion about 9/11 is horror and sorrow. We don't have the commonly-felt desire to punish those who attacked us.
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Well said Don, especially from someone who was there for both to make the comparison. This is useful and noteworthy.
At least the Japs was Japs and fought like men. The cowards of today are ashamed to fight like men. They would rather make bobie traps or road side bombs that don't have a special target and hide behind someone.And call it what ever they want to. WHO ARE WE FIGHTING ? We don't know. Just like the Viet Cong in Viet Nam . Enemy at night Goody Goody Two Shoes in the daytime.
But he is right. Patriotism has disappeared a lot.
Don, I wonder how much the fact that we had Korea and then Viet Nam and add to that the instant nature of our news has had an impact in the way in which we react to these two events? Viet Nam and the United Nations I think has had a big impact on splitting the nation when it comes to uniting as a people with action.
Undoubtedly the things you mention figure into it. When pundits say "We were more innocent in the 30's and 40's" it is true. The average citizen in 1941 had a deep and abiding faith in the USA. They had a strong "We" "They" mentality towards the rest of the world. Although most people didn't really think about it they strongly felt pride in being an American. It truly was a different world.