Bret Stephens: 9/11 and the Struggle for Meaning
Bret Stephens is the foreign-affairs columnist of the Wall Street Journal.
December 7, 1951, came and went with scant ceremony. Harry Truman spent the day vacationing in Key West. Alben Barkley gave a speech in Honolulu in which he defended the war in Korea. Time magazine skipped the Pearl Harbor anniversary altogether: Its cover story that week was a lengthy profile of DeWitt and Lila Wallace. The Daily Double goes to the reader who can identify Barkley or the Wallaces without first turning to Google.
Compare that to the wall-to-wall attention being given to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Leon Panetta will speak at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday. President Obama will speak there Sunday, after visits to the three memorial sites in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. The World Trade Center memorial plaza will open to the families of the victims. Smaller commemorations and remembrances will take place everywhere from Boston to Bagram.
And in the press, we will reprise the now-ritual debates over where-we-are-now, whither-are-we-going and what-it-all-means. Most everybody will have some sort of answer, and only the lowest common denominator of those answers will satisfy everybody.
All this is unavoidable and largely appropriate. But there is some irony in the fact that our frenzy to memorialize is inversely proportionate to our collective capacity to extract meaning from memory.
Consider the Trade Center's new memorial...
comments powered by Disqus
- Study: Violent radicalism in UK isn't associated with poverty
- CONFIRMED: the Shrine of Jonah/Mosque of Yunus (Nineveh, Mosul, Iraq) has been destroyed
- Chinese President Xi Jinping: Nobody can change history
- Iraq’s Long-Lost Mythical Temple Has Been Found…and Is In Danger of Disappearing Again
- CBS features in-depth coverage of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights law
- Obama to award National Humanities Medals to 3 historians
- Historian Curt Gentry, known for Hoover biography and ‘Helter Skelter,’ dies at 83
- Harvard historian: strategy of climate science denial groups 'extremely successful'
- Curators at Victoria and Albert Museum are pushing the boundaries of collecting
- Ukrainian Leaders Are Using David Barton's Theocratic Pseudo-History To Build Their Nation