Okay, so I’m slow about some things. I’ve stated that before.
I guess for me, it’s the fact it so dominated and changed my way of thinking that it never dawned on me there’d be some folks who didn’t see it that way. I lived through it—like a lot of people reading this blog, I’m sure—so it’s imprinted in my mind till the day I die, I’m sure.
Take, for instance, my boys. They’re sixteen and fourteen. So one of them wasn’t even born when it happened, while the other was a little over a year old. You think the disaster at the World Trade Center meant anything to him at the time? He was far too young to understand what was happening.
I guess it’s a little dumbfounding to me. And I’m sure members of the Greatest Generation felt the same way about those born after Pearl Harbor and World War II. I came along almost a quarter century after Pearl Harbor, so for me it’s a historic event, though I have to say, having seen pictures, it amazes me anyone survived. And seeing videos of Pearl Harbor survivors going back is moving indeed for me.
But, for the most part, I’m emotionally disconnected from it.
Another thing that, for me, makes 9/11 different is this: After Pearl Harbor, we had a definite enemy in the Japanese Empire. And we managed to extend that to Nazi Germany. I’m not at all belittling the sacrifices made during those years. We lost more men in some single engagements of that war than in all the wars we’ve fought in the Middle East combined. It was hard. It was heartbreaking. They deserve the moniker The Greatest Generation, and I’d never even remotely suggest taking it away.
But the advantage they had, in the long run, was they were fighting an enemy that at least had the guts and integrity to put on a uniform. The perpetrators of 9/11 and their ilk will do no such thing. They hide among their fellows, scream about death to the West, and then scurry into their holes in ways that no self-respecting rat would. We’ve now spent almost fourteen years fighting these people and, thanks to such bonehead moves as announcing when we’ll leave a certain country (image FDR saying, “We’ll leave Germany in September of 1944”) and kowtowing to the enemy as our current leader does, we’ll likely be fighting them a lot longer.
Part of it is their nature. We fought armies in World War II. There were skirmishes, battles, campaigns. When the enemy retreated, we knew where he retreated to. When he advanced, we could see him coming.
But the other part is what’s going on here. During the 1940s, America was united in its efforts to back our troops. Despite sad news delivered to hundreds of towns big and small around this country on a daily basis, there weren’t loud voices clamoring for our government to bring our soldiers home. Yes, we wanted them home. But not before the enemy—the threat to liberty that Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan presented—was beaten. There was rationing of resources, drives for war bonds, and people turned out in droves when some hero from the war came to town.
What do we have today? Idiots like Michael Moore criticizing snipers while escorted by an armed guard. Presidents who play golf while men are dying in the hot sand. FDR didn’t play golf. He talked with Churchill and they devised Operation Overlord and drove the Germans out of France—at the expense of hundreds of thousands of men. And when they thought the war would be over by winter of 1944 and it turned out the Germans fought back—in an action now known as the Battle of the Bulge—they didn’t give up. They didn’t say, “There’ll be no boots on the ground.”
They fought. They kept our troops over there. And, despite poor logistics planning that left many of them without proper cold weather gear in a winter that was the coldest in many years, our soldiers fought on, battling frostbite and malnutrition as much as they did the Germans. And in the Pacific, the Marines went from tropical island to tropical island, fighting malaria and jungle rot as well as highly dedicated Japanese soldiers who made our boys pay dearly for every single inch gained.
Why did the Germans and Japanese fight so hard? They had a homeland to protect, just as we did. They didn’t hide among innocent civilians.
And now Japan and Germany are two of our greatest allies. This won’t happen with countries like Iran and Syria. We have more in common with a culture as foreign to ours as Japan’s is than we do with these people in the deserts of the Middle East.
What’s more, the Greatest Generation didn’t let the Baby Boomers forget. They reminded them of the cost of liberty and freedom. I’m afraid the Millennials—and even many of those of us who lived through 9/11—are in danger of forgetting what happened that pleasant summer day in 2001. We are a nation so divided—and we’ve let the national political parties and the media split us this way—that we maintained our united front against radical Islam for all of maybe two years, tops, and that’s probably being very generous.
I don’t know of a solution. At least, not one anyone will implement. So I’m not offering anything of the sort, not saying, “Here’s the way out.”
Too many people will disagree with me and say we’re not in anything to begin with anyway.