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Christopher T. George

Hi Dave

I certainly do think the United States has enjoyed a certain insularity from the world and a type of sense of safety that was violated on September 11, 2001. I agree that in view of the history of the world, such a notion was unreasonable. But the United States mainland was untouched in two world wars unlike, for example, European or Asian countries that were savaged, particularly in World War II. The citizens of overrun and occupied countries knew what war was like and developed a sense of fate and foreboding that the American home front never knew. Even American servicemen, serving on the battlefront, had the knowledge that they could go home to safety, to a land that, although there were some wartime deprivations, there was nothing on the scale experienced by other nations affected by the war. So yes, 9/11, with its grievous loss of civilian lives and the scale and drama of the tragedy was, I think in many ways, a jolt of reality for this nation.

Chris George


Chris, I am in one hundred percent agreement with you over America's unacquaintance with the devastation of wars on our own soil, and I love "jolt of reality" much better than "loss of innocence." We do live in a world where most of us don't have the luxury of believing "it can't happen here."

Christopher T. George

Hi again Dave

The United States did experience the devastating effects of war during the Civil War, at least in the south, and in some isolated places in the War of 1812 and Revolution, but no such depredations were seen in the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century. By the First World War, I think Americans felt secure that theirs was to be the nation of destiny and so felt complacent with their security, that the United States had good on its side and would be a natural leader for the world. I think the period of the Cold War is not a good comparison because although devastation was threatened it was hypothetical and never happened. I think a country that knows true devastation, as with Japan, Poland, Russia, and Germany, is apt to be more fatalistic toward the future than Americans have tended to be, at least until that reawakening of 9/11.



Chris, Certainly the US is among the least fatalistic, most optimistic, of nations and our seeming invulnerability is a big part of that.

My original argument that "loss of innocence" is a poor choice of words still makes sense to me, regardless of to what degree we had suffered losses on our own soil prior to 9/11. Your choice of "jolt of reality" was good, and now "reawakening" sounds good, too. To me, "loss of innocence" sounds like we were some kind of South Pacific island that lived in isolation for centuries.

Know any good history blogs?

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