As with most Americans who were old enough on that day to know what was going on, it’s etched into my memory. I remember it in great detail. (I alluded to part of my experience of the morning a few days ago, here, without even thinking of the approaching anniversary.)
I fear, often, that we’re relapsing into complacency. That must not happen.
But we must also not forget the ease with which basically good people can be induced to do terrible things. In that regard, I think of another terrible event that has its anniversary today: the Mountain Meadows Massacre, certainly one of the blackest stories in the history of Mormonism. If the people who carried it out had been conventionally evil villains, it would have little to teach the majority of us. But they weren’t. They were good people.
The Oxford University Press volume Massacre at Mountain Meadows, by Ron Walker, Rick Turley, and Glen Leonard, is, to date, the best treatment of the subject (though the works of Juanita Brooks retain much of their value and shouldn’t be forgotten). In it, the authors lay out the inexorable logic that led to that great evil. I kept thinking, as I read it, that it was, in many ways, reminiscent of a Greek tragedy — and not only with respect to the obvious victims. I found myself wanting to scream out “No! No! Don’t go down this path! Stop while you still can!”
That event, too, should never be forgotten.