|A world my sons will never know|
Even on the day, I had a feeling. In the 1990s, along with the usual cultural trappings, there was a strange upsurge of 'patriotism' and appreciation for the past in post-Cold War America - and England I think. I don't know why. But all of a sudden it was The Greatest Generation, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, Apollo 13, Gettysburg. In England you had a tidal surge of old Victorian Era production remakes. One of the big television events of the late 90s was a new series on AMC based on Forrester's Horatio Hornblower. It was quite a feat, and it was presented non-ironically or without the usual sardonic humor that so much Brit fare exhibited in the post-war era.
I've often thought, with Labor and Democrats in the international spotlight, those Boomer liberals in the new post-Cold War world wanted to show they were not the anti-West/anti-America radicals that decades of post-60s fare suggested. Even if they were, they wanted to show they could wave flags and bow to our forebears with the best of them.
Then came 9/11. Contrary to popular belief, the day of the attacks was all over the place in terms of a 'unified' response. Emotions were off the scale as a generation of journalists with no real exposure to the world's horrors broke down on television over what they were seeing. Peter Jennings ripped into Bush for not leading us. Al Sharpton railed against our country for thinking it was Muslims, once again demonstrating our race hate of non-white people. And that was on the day of the attacks.
Oh sure, another day or two and it was all flags and bunting. George Bush gave his megaphone speech and for a moment looked as if he might lead, until he told us our entire civilization was on the brink - so go shopping and show those terrorists who's the boss. A few weeks and you saw more flags. Celebrities came out of the woodwork to produce shows raising money for the victims. Jim Carrey and Kevin Spacey held up the child of a slain first responder for a big photo op. Some country singer caught the hypocrisy in Lennon's Imagine and called on us to imagine no possessions, I wonder if we can. Commercials from deodorant to coffee makers made sure to display the Stars and Stripes at every opportunity. We had a national church service and the Rev. Billy Graham, in his last big appearance, was our pastor.
But by late October, something caught my ear. We had tickets to the Ohio State football game that Saturday after the attacks. If you recall, all games were cancelled and moved from that weekend. Our game was moved to the bye week at the end of October. It was that game my wife and I were driving to when I heard the news reports on the local sports radio. It turned out Rush Limbaugh was in trouble for attacking critics of George Bush who themselves were complaining Bush was dropping the ball. There was also scuttlebutt that the attacks may have been planned by the terrorists as a punishment for Bush stealing the election.
So by late October at least, the first chinks in our celebrated 'unity' were already there. It was clear by November that the Left was far more worried about keeping Bush from capitalizing politically on this than going after those who did this. Likewise it didn't take long to see in Bush an empty suit that didn't have the grounding of a Reagan, or even a President Eisenhower. By 2002, the divisions were beginning to multiply exponentially. It's been going downhill since.
Even while I was still pastoring (entered Catholic Church in 2006), I said I feared the terrorists of 9/11 achieved what the Japanese had dreamed of achieving in 1941. I've seen nothing in the subsequent 15 years to allay that assessment.