It turned out that it didn't matter. The instructor wasn't there. The class was all talking about something disastrous that had happened, but nobody had a clear idea what it was. The minutes ticked past, and the professor who was never late came in twenty minutes past the time class started. No one blamed him. The first thing he told us was that the United States was under attack in New York City--where he was from.
I don't know how he managed to pull it together to teach that day. I don't think I'll ever forget his courage. Or our shock.
FDR called December 7 "a day that will live on in infamy." That was the day that we discovered that we were at war with the Japanese when they took out Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack. They used their own planes, and their own equipment, and brought two nuclear weapons down upon their country by their actions.
We, as a country, have largely forgotten the horror of that day, and of that bloody, dirty, horrible, island-hopping war. We've largely forgotten the abuses that the Japanese army heaped upon our soldiers. All we really remember from that war are the things we did: the internment camps where Japanese-Americans were held, the suspicion that people born in the United States were spies for an enemy nation (enough were that it's arguable whether the camps were justified), Hiroshima and Nagasaki...
We won that war. We're still fighting the one that we woke up to realize that we were in on September 11, 2001.
We're already forgetting the terrible images of that day. We, as a nation, came together for a while after the towers fell. We, as a nation, fell right back apart. We expected a conventional war, when that is the last thing our enemy is willing to give us. We expected to catch Osama bin Laden within a month. We expected to win, quickly and easily, because we're the good guys.
Well, the enemy is taking advantage of us being the good guys. They've been on the run since the initial invasion of Afghanistan. They've not fought us on equal ground. They've not fought us in uniform, or on battlefields.
They've not fought openly. They've fought us by placing Improvised Explosive Devices on our patrol routes, the patrols we make to keep their civilians safe. They wear the same clothes as everyone else over there, over explosive vests, so that they can get close enough to us to kill us. They've fought us by keeping the areas we're in--their own people--terrorized, and tried to keep the governments unstable to enable their actions against us. They fight us from the buildings, from behind human shields, from crowded neighborhoods.
Our media doesn't report that. Our media reports on places like the POW camps, where they claim abuses go on every day, perpetrated by every soldier. They report on civilian death counts, when more often than not, the civilians are killed by the terrorists, not our soldiers. They report on the number of our soldiers killed--but neglect to remind us that this is the lowest body count of any war in history, even as it stretches on into the longest war we as a nation have ever been in. They encourage us to forget why we're there at all.
And we've forgotten for ourselves why we're there: the World Trade Center. The Pentagon. Flight 93 and it's passenger compartment of heroes.
We're forgetting because our own media wants us to forget. They stopped showing the images of that terrible day not long after it happened. I've found a photo gallery of the images. Go. Look.