9/11 – Americans who are old enough to remember Sept. 11, 2001, will hold the date in their memory, just like those alive on Dec. 7, 1941. Both days are remembered for attacks on the United States by a foreign power.
But they are very difficult. The Japanese attacked our military in Pearl Harbor, pulling the United States into World War II. A total of 2,335 U.S. service members were killed in the attack, with 1,143 wounded. Also, 68 civilians were killed and 35 wounded.
9/11, on the other hand, was an attack against civilians by a foreign terrorist organization. Nearly 3,000 civilians were killed that day with the plane attacks on the two World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and the four planes used in the attack. One crashed in Pennsylvania. Many firefighters also died trying to rescue others.
I remember being in a therapy session, recovering from car wreck. When the first plane hit, I thought it was a terrible accident. As soon as the second plane struck, I knew something terrible was happening. I went home and called the newspaper (where I worked) to see what I could do.
Both attacks were sneak attacks, a surprise to the United States. Both, however, were anticfipated at some time and place but the country was not ready to meet either attack.
I wasn’t alive during the Pearl Harbor attack, but following the 9/11 attack, the United States truly was united. We were one people, all the same. We hugged friends and strangers. We prayed with others. We donated or helped in other ways. We were proud to be American. And the world stood with us.
I expect the reaction after Pearl Harbor was much the same although it was a military attack.
We learned to be scared following Al-Quada’s attack in 2001, but we haven’t learned to stay united. We were not asked to sacrifice to help the U.S. overcome the blow. We depended entirely on the military (this was unlike after Pearl Harbor when everyone sacrificed and most had family members in the fight).
Americans have become fragmented. Many of us became greedy. We let the middle class and the poor bear much of the burden. When the recession hit in 2008, it hurt homeowners in the middle class and the poor the most. As we slowly, painfully, recover, we’re placing most of the burden on the backs of those with the least.
That’s not the America I want to be proud of. I want to be a part of the America that pulls together, generally in one direction. Where we don’t demonize those who disagree with us. Things need to change – fast.