A monumental difference exists between the two epic attacks on American soil — Pearl Harbor and September 11th.
Pearl Harbor has been resolved. September 11th has not and may never be in our lifetimes and beyond.
That is a bleak but inescapable conclusion.
Pearl Harbor precipitated an all-out war with Japan and, shortly after, Germany, which ended after a few exceptionally brutal years. Japan and Germany (after unification) then became our allies and are now, even in the current context, prosperous, modern democratic states.
September 11th has precipitated no such thing. From the beginning we were unsure how to name our adversary (or unwilling to) and how to deal with him or her. That has only become worse. Now we live in a time when we can’t even call the perpetrator of the Ft. Hood massacre a jihadist even though he was taking his marching orders from a man we killed because he was a jihadist.
At this same moment, the entire Middle East is morphing into a fundamentalist Islamic mega-state under the nonsensical rubric of the “Arab Spring.” Meanwhile, like docile sheep we line up at airports to take off our shoes and have our genitals examined. Most of our children cannot remember what it was to fly without this humiliating inconvenience. One time — in a universe far, far away — we used to walk those same children onto the plane to go see their relatives. Remember that? Remember those days? As far as we can tell, they are gone forever.