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#1
Old 09-23-2001, 01:16 AM
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Which do you consider...
The Worst Day in American History

...this has been a topic of discussion at other boards, chats, talkshows, etc... so we might as well discuss it here.

In my personal opinion, I don't think there is even anything to discuss however. To me it is simply 9/11/2001.

There are various reasons for that being my thinking. Here are just a few...

1) On September 11th, 2001 we had NOT idea who are enemy was. We had basicly no warning of it happening either, it was truly a "suprise attack".

2) At Pearl Harbor, we knew something was coming, that is a fact. We just failed to react to the warning signs in time. Also, at Pearl Harbor we TOTALLY knew who our enemy was. It was not a topic of wondering, and having to discover whom it was. They had their own symbol painted onto their air craft.

3) Of those killed on September 11th, 2001, it was not only Americans. People from over 60 nations were killed.

4) On September 11th, 2001, as of now, around 6,000 were killed. More than likely, ALOT more than that. It will be a long time before we know for sure. At Pearl Harbor, there was around 2,400 killed.

5) Of those killed on September 11th, 2001, almost all of them were innocent civilans. People simply at work, people simply taking a flight to their would be destination, etc... At Pearl Harbor, almost all of those killed were Millitary members.


I'll stop there, but there are many other factors, etc... that deal in to me making that decision.

I'm not saying Pearl Harbor was not horrible, nor am I saying that it was not as impacting as the other. Pearl Harbor is the 2nd worst day in American history. I'm just saying I feel the September 11th, 2001 is now in the top spot...unfortuently.

All of what I said aside, one thing is true for both...

...on both days, because of both events...

...America, lost it's innocence. The only thing about THIS time, is that now, the entire world has lost it's innocence.

What are YOUR thoughts on this.
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I light this cyber candle, in memory off all of those killed and affected by the tragic events which occured on September 11th, 2001.
#2
Old 09-23-2001, 01:41 AM
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Downhome wrote:

Quote:
All of what I said aside, one thing is true for both...

...on both days, because of both events...

...America, lost it's innocence. The only thing about THIS time, is that now, the entire world has lost it's innocence.
I'm interested to know - if America lost its innocence at Pearl Harbor, when did it get that innocence back again so it could lose it on 9/11? You can't lose the same thing twice unless you get it back somewhere in between. I don't recall reading in the press about some discovery of innocence in the period between 1941 and 2001. But maybe i missed it.

And the very idea of some "lost innocence" is a ridiculous emotional appeal that does nothing to further understanding of what happened last week. What America lost last week (in addition to about 6,000 terribly unfortunate and mourned people, and some expensive real estate) was a sense that its national territory was largely immune from hostile attack. (Remember that Hawaii was not a state in 1941). This is not the same as "lost innocence", whatever the hell that means. Try thinking before you trot out such cliched and hackneyed phrases.
#3
Old 09-23-2001, 01:41 AM
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Actually, I believe the opposite is the case.

On 9/11/01, we're all numbed of course, but let's face it: we're still the most powerful nation on this earth by far, and even if we never catch those responsible (we will of course), we'll end up a stronger safer nation for it.

On 12/7/41, It was the entrance of the U.S. into an enormous war, whose outcome was all but certain. It was the beginning of enormous U.S. losses, and that was understood on that day.
#4
Old 09-23-2001, 01:49 AM
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And i forgot to add:

Why is it that only these acts perpetrated by foreigners are to be considered in the annals of America's worst days?

At Antietam, in Maryland, during the Civil War, around 23,000 people died in a single day. Does the fact that Americans were fighting each other make those deaths any less tragic? Some might even argue that such fratricidal struggle is even more tragic than unexpected attacks from outside.

Just because those at Antietam, and most of those at Pearl Harbor, were soldiers, does not make the loss of life easier to take for those who mourned the dead. Nor does it mean that the long-term consequences of such loss of life were any less difficult for the United States. Anyone who is even partly conversant with the history of post-Civil War reconstruction knows the difficulties the nation faced during that period.
#5
Old 09-23-2001, 02:22 AM
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I don't really feel comfortable with the way you have phrased the subject. However, I think that your question serves at least one good purpose: to distinguish the differences between 12/7/41 and 9/11/01.

Obviously more have died on 9/11/01. For heavens sake, we haven't even recovered the remains yet.

But our armed forces have not been hit. On 12/7/41 our armed forces suffered a tremendous blow. The people of California were a little nervous. If Hawaii, why not California? There were no longer any battleships to deter the Japanese--a nation with a first-rate Navy, a fighter aircraft called the "zero" which was superior to anything we had at the time, and an Army willing to die for their Emperor.

So it is not really a valid comparison, other than the whole filthy sneak attack business. Ok the Japanese claim that they tried to give us warning so as not to be a sneak attack, but that the message was unintentionally delayed. How much warning would they have "allowed" us anyway? Harumph.

To add to what mhendo wrote, the Civil War was bad beyond all belief. Huge lines of Americans facing each other at close range firing volley after volley after volley...
#6
Old 09-23-2001, 02:27 AM
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How stupid of me to say that our armed forces have not been hit without giving respect to those who died at the Pentagon. I'm sorry.
#7
Old 09-23-2001, 02:32 AM
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Re: And i forgot to add:

Quote:
Originally posted by mhendo
Why is it that only these acts perpetrated by foreigners are to be considered in the annals of America's worst days?

At Antietam, in Maryland, during the Civil War, around 23,000 people died in a single day. Does the fact that Americans were fighting each other make those deaths any less tragic? Some might even argue that such fratricidal struggle is even more tragic than unexpected attacks from outside.

Just because those at Antietam, and most of those at Pearl Harbor, were soldiers, does not make the loss of life easier to take for those who mourned the dead. Nor does it mean that the long-term consequences of such loss of life were any less difficult for the United States. Anyone who is even partly conversant with the history of post-Civil War reconstruction knows the difficulties the nation faced during that period.
The 23,000 figure for Antietam refers to total casualties, including wounded. No one knows for sure how many people died as a result of that battle. It's estimated between 4-6,000 soldiers died that day.

Antietam (or Sharpsburg if you're from the South) was an early turning point in the Civil War and many historians say it gave Lincoln the impetus to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

Antietam, Pearl Harbor, the World Trade Center: The outcome of all these events is that a lot of people died and it was pointless each time.
#8
Old 09-23-2001, 03:01 AM
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Apples and Oranges

I don't think the two events were remotely comparable. Certainly it is not my intention to belittle the events or tragedy of 11 September. Pearl Harbor plunged the US into an immediate World War on two fronts. We are talking the difference between a one day terrorist attack and years of full scale warfare.

Another point that no one has brought up, 7 December 1941 saw a coordinated attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, Shanghai and Midway. I don't have casualty numbers, but combined casualties on 7 December is very likely to greatly exceed 11 Sep. Also, the US battleship/cruiser fleet in the Pacific was severely crippled.

Not only did 7 December have an attack in multiple locations, that attack started out the Japanese blitzkrieg which suffered no setbacks until the Battle of Coral Sea on 7-8 May 1942, or 5 months later. The US did not meet Japanese troops on the ground until 7 August 1942 in Guadalcanal, and the bitterly fought victory there wasn't achieved until the very end of 1942.

Tragic as 11 September was, so far there has been no terrorist follow up. In the 20 days following Pearl Harbor:

Dec 7, 1941 - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Also attack the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, Shanghai and Midway.
Dec 8, 1941 - U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan. Japanese land near Singapore and enter Thailand.
Dec 9, 1941 - China declares war on Japan.
Dec 10, 1941 - Japanese invade the Philippines and also seize Guam.
Dec 11, 1941 - Japanese invade Burma.
Dec 15, 1941 - First Japanese merchant ship sunk by a U.S. submarine.
Dec 16, 1941 - Japanese invade British Borneo.
Dec 18, 1941 - Japanese invade Hong Kong.
Dec 22, 1941 - Japanese invade Luzon in the Philippines.
Dec 23, 1941 - Gen. MacArthur begins withdrawal from Manila to Bataan; Japanese take Wake Island.
Dec 25, 1941 - British surrender at Hong Kong.
Dec 26, 1941 - Manila declared an open city.
Dec 27, 1941 - Japanese bomb Manila.
(Reference: http://historyplace.com/unitedst...r/timeline.htm )
#9
Old 09-23-2001, 03:12 AM
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The following link has a good summary of the Pearl Harbor attack if anyone wants to review.

http://history.navy.mil/faqs/faq66-1.htm

Obviously the military and strategic effect of Pearl Harbor was greater, for the reasons King Rat cited. Even though the 9/11 attack struck the Pentagon, the military consequences of the Pearl Harbor attack were far more devastating. The Pacific Fleet did not recover for quite a while.

On the other hand the economic effect of the 9/11 attack, while yet to be assessed, will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The travel (in the broadest sense: hotels, airlines, convention, cruise lines, restaurants, cabs, etc...)industry was seriously wounded. Moreover, the body count was much greater.

Depending on events over the upcoming months and possibly years, the 9/11 attack may well be the worst transformative event in American history.

One question to ponder: How will the 9/11 attack affect our civil liberties over the long run?

I do not speak of losing curbside check-in, waiting at the airport, air marshalls, or showing ID. Those are trivial things which flow directly from and relate specifically to the 9/11 attack, with obvious justifications (except maybe getting rid of curbside check-in). Much broader moves are contemplated already.
#10
Old 09-23-2001, 03:14 AM
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Hmmmm King Rat, not so sure 'bout the idea of a "sneak attack" being filthier than any other kind of attack - is that not the smartest kind of attack to make if you want to succeed? I'm not trying to piss anyone off by suggesting anything about either attack on the US was good... but they sure as hell did accomplish their respective purposes, however bad they were. If you want to strike a major blow to a country or group sans loosing much life on your own side, you surely don't tell the enemy "Hey guys! we'll be coming over on X date with X number of people for an open and fair knockabout to see who's got the better team... hope to see ya all lined up and ready!!" As for the op, I'll hafta go with Pearl Harbor being the worse of the two, for the reason of the US should have been better able to see it coming (a couple people actually DID see it coming on the radar screens, but it didn't seem to be taken very seriously by their bosses??). That was an attack on a big naval base during war times which sunk a large chunk of the navey, who's ships (legitimate targets at the time, and made for combat) were all lined up like sitting ducks... in addition to the loss of life, it was more of a kick in the nuts for US pride I imagine than some terrorists who attacked inocent and unprepared people during peace time. The latter might have made the US madder, but the former may have made the US feel more "caught off guard" when they shouldn't have been. Japan really paid for what they did, and I think the modern terrorists will too.
#11
Old 09-23-2001, 04:28 AM
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Thing is, until the Battle of Pearl Harbor, we weren't in a state of warfare, so therefore, Battleship Row wasn't a legitimate target...While war with the Japanese might have been forseen, even expected, at that point, it wasn't a reality...There was little reason to expect any attack to come, much less one on Pearl Harbor, or to believe that the planes seen coming toward you meant death...

This generally considered a dirty thing to do...even the Japanese Admiralty didn't like, and had demanded that war be declared first...In fact, a declaration of war had been drafted, and was supposed to make to Roosevelt's desk a half hour before the attacks, but the Japanese Embassy flubbed the play and it didn't reach the President until much later in the day...

Because of this, when the planes appeared over Pearl Harbor, the soldiers there just didn't know what to think...It was an unusual event, but there was very little reason to think that it was dangerous...And that's why its a bad thing...
#12
Old 09-23-2001, 05:20 AM
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Ahhh, perhaps I was thinking on too small a scale. You wouldn't submit your battle plans to the enemy, but I guess it would do a country good to make it clear to another that "it's war!" before they start dropping bombs. Ya got me on that one. I was also thinking more along the lines of huge warships equipped with big guns and armour and hundreds of trained military personnel being on scene on a naval base as "more" legitimate targets than highrise office buildings full of unprepared civillians in a busy city. Seems like a mis-communication of intentions resulting in a major blow to a country's ability to defend it's self at sea would be all the more reason for this attack to be the worse of the two. Sort of like "damn! we had all our armour and guys right there and they got still got us!" That and what it led to. I don't know, maybe my logic's getting lost here. Then again, the current attack is far from resolved, so I can't say which will prove to be worse 50 years from now.
#13
Old 09-23-2001, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill H.
Actually, I believe the opposite is the case.

On 9/11/01, we're all numbed of course, but let's face it: we're still the most powerful nation on this earth by far, and even if we never catch those responsible (we will of course), we'll end up a stronger safer nation for it.

On 12/7/41, It was the entrance of the U.S. into an enormous war, whose outcome was all but certain. It was the beginning of enormous U.S. losses, and that was understood on that day.
I would say that Pearl Harbor was worse, although I agree with Bill H.'s first statement.

However, as to his second point, it seems to me:

We were not at all certain of winning WWII.

The consequences of losing were greater. That is, the worst imaginable consequence of losing the war on terrorism is, say, the nuclear destruction of a few Western cities.

The worst imaginable consequence of losing WWII was the total destruction of our civilization.
#14
Old 09-23-2001, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by mmmiiikkkeee
Hmmmm King Rat, not so sure 'bout the idea of a "sneak attack" being filthier than any other kind of attack - is that not the smartest kind of attack to make if you want to succeed?
It's a good question, and I think the moral difference between a "pre-emptive strike" and a "filthy sneak attack" is that a pre-emptive strike occurs because we are convinced, through some kind of proof, that the enemy is about to attack us. Therefore, we don't have to wait to be attacked--we strike first. A sneak attack occurs when an enemy strikes us even though we had no plans to hit the enemy. Yes, we had warned the Japanese about their invasion of Manchuria and declared an oil embargo against them, but there was no imminent military attack by the U.S. against the Japanese.

december, I was also little thrown own off by Bill H.'s sentence but after reading it a couple of times I realized that "outcome was all but certain" means "not certain that we would win" so he is in agreement with you.
#15
Old 09-23-2001, 01:09 PM
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To BobT:

You are, of course, right about Antietam/Sharpsburg. I should have been more careful with my figures. The problem is that when some authors writing about war say "casualties", they mean "dead", and others mean "dead and injured".
#16
Old 09-24-2001, 07:52 AM
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If one recalls that the surgeons didn't even bother to rinse their hands in between patients, one can be confident that the "casualty" figure at Antietam pretty much equalled the "dead" figure, although many waited a few more days or weeks to actually succumb to their injuries.

It was not a good time to have a body cavity injury.
#17
Old 09-25-2001, 02:34 AM
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Quote:
Thing is, until the Battle of Pearl Harbor, we weren't in a state of warfare, so therefore, Battleship Row wasn't a legitimate target...While war with the Japanese might have been forseen, even expected, at that point, it wasn't a reality...There was little reason to expect any attack to come, much less one on Pearl Harbor, or to believe that the planes seen coming toward you meant death...

This generally considered a dirty thing to do...even the Japanese Admiralty didn't like, and had demanded that war be declared first...In fact, a declaration of war had been drafted, and was supposed to make to Roosevelt's desk a half hour before the attacks, but the Japanese Embassy flubbed the play and it didn't reach the President until much later in the day...
Of course, FDR knew well in advance that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor, he just didn't notify the commanders there.
#18
Old 09-25-2001, 06:40 AM
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I'm not an American, but from my outsider's point of view I can say that the events of September 11th seem more tragic than Pearl Harbour. I would also say that the American Civil War seems more tragic than Pearl Harbour. I hate war, but I guess it is so common that it doesn't really strike me as horrific any more. The idea of one military force attacking another does not shock me as much as a terrorist attack which combines hijackings, 'plane crashes, fire, people falling to their deaths from the top of skyscrapers, buildings collapsing, etc. Right here are many of the catastrophes which people fear most, all happening in the same place on a single day. And as for the Civil War, the fact that people fought their own brothers and neighbours really drives home, at least to me, the senselessless of war more than a war between two enemy nations. I can see that perhaps the events of Pearl Harbour had more significance to America, and maybe people who were alive at the time would be better able to compare the tragic nature of the two.
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#19
Old 09-25-2001, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Eternal
Of course, FDR knew well in advance that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor, he just didn't notify the commanders there.
Oh, bullshit. Do a search on the archives here and you, just maybe, might learn something about spreading out-and-out bs lies.
#20
Old 09-26-2001, 12:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Monty
Quote:
Originally posted by Eternal
Of course, FDR knew well in advance that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor, he just didn't notify the commanders there.
Oh, bullshit. Do a search on the archives here and you, just maybe, might learn something about spreading out-and-out bs lies.
Actually there a lot of debate over this subject, this is a great summary. Yahoo "Roosevelt Pearl Harbor controversy," for too much information. I have read a lot on this subject, I have no idea who is right.

Secretary of War Stimson, diary entry regarding November 25, 1941 meeting with FDR:
"In spite of the risk involved, however, in letting the Japanese fire the first shot, we realized that in order to have the full support of the American people it was desirable to make sure that the Japanese were the ones to do this so that there should remain no doubt in anyone's mind as to who were the aggressors."
Emphasis mine.

"Chief Warrant Officer Ralph T. Briggs, who was working at the Cheltenham, Maryland intercept station in late 1941. Contrary to the defenders of Roosevelt and his coterie, who during the various investigations swore that there had been no "East Wind Rain" message received prior to the attack, Briggs confirmed that he had intercepted the "Winds" execute and had even located a Navy memoir buried in the records, indicating that he had read the message as early as December 2, 1941."

I quote a couple of inconclusive suspicious things just to point out "BS" is not at all appropriate. I also question "Of course" and "well in advance." Please read the whole cited source (long).
#21
Old 09-26-2001, 09:01 PM
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From a historical point of view (bringing this back to the OP, much as I hate to interrupt a good hijack) the question is going to be whether or not this signals a change in eras.

From WWII up until today we have not suffered from a major, global war with all the suffering and drain on our resources that that implies. If this is the opening battle of WWIII, then this will indeed be worse than Pearl Harbor because Pearl Harbor, even though we obviously didn't know it at the time, came closer to the end of the era of massive global military conflict that characterized the first half of the twentieth century than the beginning. If this attack is the start of a new era of massive global military conflict, then in historical terms it will be worse, far worse, than Pearl Harbor.
#22
Old 09-27-2001, 08:52 PM
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For people who really know their history, I'm just wondering: what does the Alamo look like in perspective?
#23
Old 09-27-2001, 09:15 PM
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comparing the Alamo to Pearl Harbor or WTC!?

Quote:
For people who really know their history, I'm just wondering: what does the Alamo look like in perspective?
Oh, please.
Doesn't even compare. IIRC (don't have a cite but I can probably hunt one down), the Mexican forces were recapturing a site that had been captured by the Texans months before. They (the Texans) were at war with a known enemy and, though caught by surprise, had had time to fortify the Alamo and had no reason to think that they were safe, like the Pearl Harbor military at a base in peacetime or the civilians at work in an office building (yes there were some military personnel at the Pentagon, for you nitpickers out there....).
Also, the loss of lives was in the hundreds, not thethousands...
#24
Old 09-27-2001, 09:19 PM
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Re: comparing the Alamo to Pearl Harbor or WTC!?

Woah, dude! I'm sorry! It just came up in conversation, someone told me that Sept 11 will be remembered like Pearl Harbor and the Alamo. The Alamo seems very iconic, that's why I was asking.
#25
Old 09-27-2001, 09:33 PM
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... and I'm sorry for jumping down yer throat . I will agree that it is definitley one of the most remembered events in American history (even though it happened before Texas was America, for you nitpckers out there )
#26
Old 09-27-2001, 09:36 PM
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err, make that ...definitely one of the most.... (preview, dammit, preview....)
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