All accounts are referring to the release of the new motion picture “United 93”, a graphic portrait of the events which unfolded on September 11, 2001. This motion picture is mainly from the perspective of those who were aboard the fourth aircraft on that fatal day and how they responded to the highjackers. The hijacking of United 93 and the unprovoked attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were more than the equivalent of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. They were the events, which triggered our War Against Islamic Terrorism.
During those first weeks following the attacks we were a united country. There was a seriousness of tone on radio and television. The newspapers lauded those responding to a call to arms. Flags appeared on buildings and were flown from car antennas. Patriotic songs were written.
But, soon our citizenry grew tired of patriotism. Our media returned to its usual pandering to anything left of center. The politicians took center stage and those who wanted to seek advantage by a negative point of view against the war became more vocal.
Today, few flags fly in front of our homes and businesses. Fewer still are seen on automobile antennas. Our media has debased it’s reporting by mouthing and writing an ongoing mantra of bombs and body counts. The public worries more about gas prices and the latest televising of American Idol than it does our progress against terrorism.
Few are the people alive today who recall how Americans reacted to the events in our country following Pearl Harbor. Those were the days of a “United” States of America.
I can still remember that as a small boy I scoured the neighborhood looking for scrap metal, rubber and paper. The local gas stations were collection points for these important scrap materials. The Boy Scout troops conducted regular paper drives. Gasoline was rationed to four gallons a week for most families. Everyone car-pooled or took mass transportation to work. Fathers and older brothers went off to war. Mothers and older sisters went to work in factories and war related businesses. Production was a round-the-clock operation.
My grandfather was an Air Raid Warden who patrolled his assigned district nightly to make sure lights were not showing through darkened curtains. My grandmother volunteered with the Red Cross. My mother worked at the Todd Shipyard helping to build new aircraft carriers for the Navy. My father volunteered for the Coast Guard Reserve. Everyone walked to school and while there we practiced everything from spelling to math and air raid drills to conservation. Rationing was in place for everyone and everything.
No new cars were built for the civilian population. All of those manufacturing efforts were channeled into military production. Ladies silk stockings were rationed. Meat was rationed. Sugar was rationed. Chocolate was rationed. Everyone had food and gas rationing books. People saved their food stamps for a special meal and their gas stamps for a family outing.
At movie theaters there were cash collections to support the USO. War Bond rallies was held almost weekly. Children in schools were asked to bring dimes to buy savings stamps. Oleomargarine replaced almost non-existent butter. We had Meatless Tuesday. The motion picture industry joined the war effort by cranking out a continuous stream of patriotic pictures. Kate Smith brought tears to everyone’s eyes when she sang “God Bless America”. Hollywood stars by the dozens performed for servicemen and women around the country and overseas. We filled theaters just to glimpse combat action in the latest newsreels and pinup pictures of beautiful movie stars were in every GI barracks.
That was America involved. That was America that cared. It was not the America of today, where for far too many people it seems as if just having a motion picture depicting a horrible day in the life of this country has been produced “too soon”. It just might make them uncomfortable and force them to recall a heart breaking moment in history. For these Americans reality is closing their eyes, refusing to grasp the truth of the world we now inhabit and denial. For them, anything that recalls 9/11 is “Too Soon!”