Media Watch: The Six-Month Anniversary

Mr. Farrell is a student at the University of Washington and an intern at HNN.

It happened. Six months later, we still can't get over it. And so we talked about it and talked about it.

President Bush spoke at one of many ceremonies held to remember 9-11. He used the opportunity to bolster support for the war."Against such an enemy," he said,"there is no immunity, and there can be no neutrality."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighed in, calling September 11 the day,"America was changed forever."

The New York Times ran stories about the survivors, featuring an astonishing account of the recovery of Lauren Manning, who'd found herself in the lobby of the World Trade Center on fire. Burned nearly all over her body, her doctors had given her a 10 percent chance of living. She'll soon be able to return home. Other stories emphasized the continual psychological stress many Americans feel, especially New Yorkers, in the wake of the most devastating foreign attack on America since Pearl Harbor.

At HNN we wondered: Is the turning of what the media call the"six month anniversary" of 9-11 into a major event unprecedented? We went to the library to check. How, for instance, had Pearl Harbor been remembered six months after?

June 7, 1942 marked six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The New York Times editorial page paused to take notice.

"The Axis answered our question for us," the paper commented."Pearl Harbor was a disaster, but the answer to those questions was a gift we now know how to value. ... No policy of political and economic isolation is possible from now on, either for us or for any other country."

Arthur Krock, two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the New York Times, wrote a column featuring familiar rhetoric:"This happened just six months ago today. The changes that have come to American life in the brief period have been more rapid, more unexpected, more drastic and more costly than any wrought in any crisis the nation has met in all its history."

Krock criticized Americans for feeling secure in the years leading up to Pearl Harbor despite warning signs and a growing list of enemies."It was a spoiled people," he preached,"in many respects a deluded people, in whom this deep-rooted spirit abided against the shocks of surprise and recurrent defeat and from whom it now flows in constant emanation."

Krock's critical tone was tempered by his sympathy for the suffering of Americans and the sacrifices they were now having to make, lamenting the effect of the new war on the average person, who no longer would be able to buy new tires for his car, copper for his sink or much meat for his table. Krock noted a mental diet of"roughage.""Bad news," he wrote in derision,"has been unduly restricted by his government and is often sugarcoated when it is set before him."

While Krock was critical of U.S. government policy he was as hopeful as many are today that the crisis would bring about positive change:"If leadership can rise as high, and use the proffered tools and the human material with the skill, force and devotion they merit and the country's peril requires, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor henceforth will be a feast day to mark the coming of an age of Americans and the regeneration of mankind."

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