September 15, 2001

Still there

Thanks to all who wrote yesterday, from all corners of the world.

Last night, I saw a clip of members of Congress singing "God Bless America," the Republican Party anthem. That's wrong. First, it's now a partisan song, Reagan's campaign theme.

But, more important, the US has a song for the occasion. It was written the last time something like this happened here. "Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?"

The news media here keep mentioning Pearl Harbor. But that misses the point; Hawaii was then a territory. People have mentioned Antietam, but here in New England they still call it the War of the Rebellion, a fight with rebels, not foreign invaders. The last large-scale violence planned abroad and executed within the United States was, I believe, the Battle of New Orleans, the 1815 skirmish at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Americans have short memories: it's almost as if the last time this happened was Cannae or Agincourt.

May there be peace.