That all hell was unleashed on a sunny, Sunday morning on Oahu, Hawaii. By the end of the day, thousands of American servicemen would be dead, as would some civilians. American plunged headfirst into the war with a resolve never to be repeated. In the days after 9/11, some thought we might see that unity and resolve again. But by then, the rot had set in, and the divisions were too deep.
On one side you had those who believed America has always been great, though imperfect, and can be greater still. On the other, you had those who felt there was an American idea that was great on paper, but America has never really been great, but we can finally make it great. Those two are at odds and unable to be reconciled. A little thing like the falling Twin Towers and thousands dead was barely a hiccup in the ongoing debate.
Nonetheless, we still imagined in those early days of 9/11 that we would at least see unity. After all, in 2000 many were saying we’d never seen the country as divided as it was then. Just as we heard following 2012. And as we’re hearing now. Notice a trend? Fact is, we’ve been torn asunder for some decades. It’s as much generational as it is anything.
A torch was passed to a new generation. But the one following imagined that it was their generation that was called to set it right. Not fix a great and wonderful nation with a rich and amazing, albeit flawed, history. But to right a great wrong. To renounce a nation not founded on liberty, freedom and equality, but one founded on racism, imperialism and genocide. Joining those in Europe who responded to the ashes of WWII with a desire to jettison almost everything that had defined Western culture, this generation set about tearing away at almost every stone of the foundations that made America what it was. And that conflict continues.
Still, 75 years ago by now, the bombs were dropping and the American causalities began to stack. There would be hundreds of thousands by the end of the war. And there would be tens of millions more who would die, mostly civilians, mostly at the hands of the Axis Powers. What lessons did we learn then? What lessons can we learn today? That remains to be seen.
Over at the American Catholic, Donald McClarey undertakes the unenviable task of trying to get our generation to learn some lessons from this day.
On a good note, Prime Minister Shinzo becomes the first Japanese prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor. Whether this leads to a formal apology or not I don’t know. Many have said we should apologize for the bombs. The case can certainly be made. But I’ve always felt that first should come an apology from Japan for starting it in the first place.