2001-09-29 / Editorial/Opinion

Once Again, American Complacency

Once Again, American Complacency

December 7, 1941, a "Day That Will Live In Infamy." Editorialists and others have likened the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center to that attack on our military at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. America was complacent then. We did not believe that a "minor" Asian nation such as Japan would dare attack America. There is another date, however, that we think of as well when we think of the recent attack. That date is October 4, 1957. What happened that day? The event was not as memorable for most as Pearl Harbor, but it changed America and the world just as surely as did the Japanese attack and as will the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On that day, the USSR launched Sputnik into an Earth orbit, the first man-made satellite to circle our planet. We were complacent then as well. Nobody believed that the USSR’s German scientists were that much better than our German scientists. There was a joke going around at that time that the USSR would never develop an atomic suitcase bomb because they were still busy developing the suitcase. After October 4, that was no longer funny. Just as after Pearl Harbor, however, America lost its complacency and got to work. With the political will to win the game and the civilian will to get the job done, we won the war in four years and we beat the USSR to the moon. It is now time for us to do the same. We have to shake ourselves from our complacency that it "will never happen in America," and we have to develop both the political will to win and the civilian will to do what is needed to get the job done. That is easier said than done, but we have done it twice in the past. It is time to do it once again.

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