On the morning of December 7th, 1941, an air strike from the Empire of Japan attacked the U.S. military base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A day later, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan, thus entering the U.S. into World War II. In the almost 66 years that have gone by since this event, many, especially of my generation, have lost the emotion attached to it. But this has been replaced by an even greater modern catastrophe — the September 11th attacks.
Now, the reason I evoke the attack on Pearl Harbor on this sixth anniversary on 9/11 is because of how much Pearl Harbor changed the world today. Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into World War II on the side of Allies, which if we had not done, the Axis would have probably won the war, thus changing the course of world history forever. But could 9/11 have had this same effect?
Right now it’s too soon to tell. But just six years later, so much has already changed. When millions of ordinary Americans went to bed on September 11th, 2001, not one of them could possibly have imagined how different life would be like today. The 90’s in the United States, and much of the world, was a heyday. Not since the 1920’s had the U.S. had both economic prosperity and diplomatic peace on such a scale (and not to mention being loved by, or at least popular with, much of the world). Alas, it was not to be for long. First, with the dotcom bust of 2000, and then with 9/11 a whole generation of baby boomers entered a new era defined by an unpopular war, an unpopular president, and the always looming threat of terror in an unbalanced and disrupted world. And adults aren’t the only ones affected. My generation, also known as Generation Z (or what I like to call “the iGeneration” — those born in the early and mid-1990’s) is following a similar pattern to those born in the early-to-mid-1920’s — prosperity during the single-digit years, a catastrophe, and the difficult aftermath during the teenage and young adult years.
Still, as I said before, we’re only just beginning to get some perspective on the events of 9/11. We still don’t know how the war in Iraq and the overall war on terror will proceed. We still don’t know how much of the current geo-political make-up was caused by 9/11. But, what is for sure,is that life will never exactly be the same after the “date which will live in infamy.”
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While the main part of my post is now finished, I just wanted to make one final note. Today is not just to commemorate those who died (for a complete list, see here), but also for those who have survived. Here in New York City is probably the place where people are the most affected by the tragic events of 9/11, especially since many people know first-hand someone who died because of the attacks. Yet many people who were at the World Trade Center that day and in the days after got sick from rescue work, yet still don’t recieve government-susidized heathcare. To help, try writing to your local copngressman about the problem (sorry I don’t have a link for a website on the matter).
But even though this September 11th (a Tuesday, just like in 2001) was a dark and gloomy day here in New York, the sun setting leaves a nice, cool blue of solemmn, calm rememberence on the whole city skyline.