11 September 2011

What I Hope Is Not a Typical September 11th Post

To steal a bit from my friend at Phoenix Fire,

Remember Remember
The 11th of September
Terror hit our hearts
I know of no Patriot member
Who will let the 11th of September
Ever be forgot

Ten years ago today, I sat in Mr. Bailey's 7th grade math class, one of the other teachers came in and told him to turn on the TV.  When he did, there was the Twin Towers in NYC burning.  I think we had just missed the second plane hitting the towers.  Mr. Bailey claimed it would be the start of WWIII, and after 10 years, I'm not sure he wasn't right.  I believe I was sitting in art class when the towers fell, the reporter saying it had been another explosion, but I knew from the way the dust cloud plumed into the sky that the building had collapsed.  The second tower followed minutes later.  

The months that followed we all saw a slew of bumper stickers and t-shirts and memorial services and TV specials about what had happened and how America wasn't going to stand for it.  Somewhere my dad still has the Sept. 12th paper that says ATTACKED on the front.  The term "Never Forget" seems to have become synonymous with 9/11.  However let me remind you of another day we vowed not to forget.... 

"Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives: Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire."
(shamelessly copied and pasted from http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_speech)

Within 33 minutes of this speech on December 8, 1941, Congress passed an official declaration of war against the Empire of Japan.  Only one representative voted against it, Jeannette Rankin, a strict pacifist (she became immensely unpopular by 1942 and traveled to India follow Gandhi).  Now here we are 70 years later, and when December 7th rolls around not a word is muttered about the date that will live in infamy.  Granted 70 years is a long time, and Japan is now one of our friends, but I don't know if Americans have ever been as united as they were after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  

I don't mean to take away from the signifagance of September 11, 2001, but I'd like to point out that society's memory and attention span is short.  We will collectively forget 9/11 just as 12/7/41 has faded from our hearts.  But regardless of this, we will all be Americans, despite our ideologies, skin tones or upbringing, and when we see a fellow American in need, it's our duty to help our compatriots.  

E Pluribus Unum
From many, One.


  1. things are short in memory for many ppl. but to the service men and women it is not. and the older generations do remember, but students today dont even know what cities the h-bombs were dropped on :(

  2. See, I'm inclined to think that this day will stand out in our memories much more. Technology has caused us to grow apart as a society, but it also makes information distribute that much more quickly. Think of how your Facebook News Feed was flooded on 9/11 with a bazillion posts about the attacks. 10 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor nobody was tweeting about it. So, with time, maybe this will all stay fresh in our minds.


  3. Perhaps, but ten years ago we didn't have Facebook, most of my generation didn't even have cell phones yet. :P
    But I'm not even sure my 8 year old sister knows what 9/11 really is...will have to ask her