You know, it’s funny. In 1952, 11 years after the original Pearl Harbor Day, we were a nation which had just elected a President who promised to end the war in Korea. People were just as tired of war then as they are now.
And as those who experienced the day begin the process of yielding the field to a generation who may not remember it as much – my significant other has a child now in junior high who was but a 20-month old toddler when the Twin Towers fell – it’s certainly not the time to weaken the resolve mustered in this day by declaring it a day of service.
With the exception of the very first year I had this website, I have chosen to write a tribute of sorts on 9-11. I’ve told you about my experience (twice), reflected on how it affected the presidency of George W. Bush, the “different and lacking resolve” of Barack Obama, and how we need to stay strong. I even reviewed a 9/11 book recently.
So it’s somewhat hard to lay out new ground to cover. But I still feel the somber occasion of 9/11 is important enough to devote a post to, timed in such a manner to coincide with the minute the initial plane hit the Twin Towers. Few who experienced the day would want to live through it again, but I think it’s vital to dredge up the unpleasantness because the fight is far from over. As my blogging friend and author Bob McCarty often writes in the run-up to his forthcoming book, “green-on-blue” attacks in Afghanistan are still occurring with distressing regularity. If it weren’t for the 9/11 attack we probably wouldn’t be in that far-off land.
This returns me to my original thought about 1952. Just a few years prior, we as a nation united to defeat not one, but two great powers attempting to end America as we know it. It only took us about 3 1/2 years to topple both Hitler and Imperial Japan – with help from several valuable allies, of course. The entanglement in Korea was a fight to contain a third enemy we were forced to make a temporary alliance with in order to defeat the Axis powers – communists.
Instead, both the fights – the one against radical Islam which started on 9/11 (although arguably it began with the Iranian hostage situation) and the mostly cold war against communism – keep dragging on because we decided not to use the overwhelming force necessary to win, instead adopting rules of engagement which encouraged “nation-building” and not crushing the enemy, which in this case is much less clearly-defined than in previous conflicts.
And there’s one other difference. Certainly in World War II we faced government-imposed rationing and shortages of items for the domestic market were common because we were devoted to the war effort. And indeed the freedom of our Japanese-American citizens was severely curtailed because there was a legitimate question on their loyalty.
Yet in this war the government has made suspicious characters out of most of us through the ubiquitous Department of Homeland Security, with one exception: those who should arouse suspicion because they’re more likely to be allied with the radical Islam we’re fighting overseas. Yes, I’m using a broad brush to paint a group of people but wouldn’t that be the more logical thing to do? It seems like the 99% who are innocent are more of a target than the 1% who could present a threat.
If there’s one loss which can be mourned from 9/11, it may be our freedom. Because we didn’t act decisively as a nation, we find ourselves in a weakened position on this 9/11 holiday compared to that of 11 years ago.