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December 7, 2003
A Day That Might Live in Infamy

Today is the 62nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and I was curious to see how it would be addressed by the media, especially now that we're a couple of years past 9/11, this generation's Day of Infamy. So far, it's pretty difficult to find anything without using site search engines. Not many papers are featuring Pearl Harbor stories on their main web pages.

In our area, we have two major dailies. The Star Tribune has four paragraphs -- four! -- on the anniversary. (Don't strain yourselves, folks.) They also reprint a superficial AP article by Matt Sedensky . This is the Sunday edition; there's plenty of room for more insight than this.

The Pioneer Press does a better job; they have a few articles on Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, one of them is an opinion piece by David Broder that uses Pearl Harbor to excoriate President Bush for not getting an official declaration of war against Iraq -- and equate Iraq with Vietnam:

But Fisher throws down an important challenge when he zeros in on a pattern of congressional behavior that has seen legislators sidestep the question of peace or war. ... As Fisher notes, that has become a common pattern in dealing with possible conflict. He likens it to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964, which Lyndon Johnson used as authority for the escalation in Vietnam.

They also include the Sedensky article, but none of their articles are linked off of the main web page. That's better than the Los Angeles Times, which has two articles in today's paper. The Times opted for quality over quantity, however. One of them is pretty good, reviewing the service records of two veterans (WWII and Vietnam) and written by a Times staff writer. The other is an excellent story from an Orange County local paper, the Daily Pilot, which recounts the experiences of one family who were caught up in both 9/11 and Pearl Harbor:

In an instant, Deborah Hammett's life began to mirror that of her father.

The 47-year-old was in New York City on a business trip when two planes, commandeered by terrorists, struck the World Trade Center. Surrounded by so much devastation, she felt compelled to help and spent three days at Ground Zero.

Sixty years earlier, her father, Jack Hammett, was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese bombed the naval installation on the island of Hawaii, drawing the United States into World War II. As a Navy hospital corps man, he had the gruesome job of identifying the dead, with a break every four hours to perform triage on the wounded.

The New York Times also has no links to stories on Pearl Harbor on their main page, even though the AP reports candlelight vigils in NYC. A search for "Pearl Harbor" in today's news returns this search result. Pretty thin stuff; one article for today, and it turns out to be the Sedensky AP article.

The Washington Post? The major daily in our nation's capital? It carries the same Sedensky article, plus the Broder op-ed pice (which, of course, originated in the WaPo), and one well-written piece featuring a Pearl Harbor survivor. None are linked from the main web page. Even its competitor, the Washington Times, can't muster up a featured link to an article on Pearl Harbor. (I tried doing a search for stories, but their search results come back with no dates and are poorly displayed.)

History marches on. I understand that; I understand this is the 62nd anniversary, as opposed to a 70th or 50th or 100th anniversary, and we all know that round numbers are somehow more relevant. But it seems to me that a Sunday edition of the paper has some room for reflection, for in-depth looks at stories that may not be as flashy as the Madonna/Britney osculation. I guess not. It's just an excuse to pad the paper with more advertising.

How long before we just pay lip service to 9/11? Ten years? Five? 2004?

UPDATE: I'm not the only one who noticed this. Michelle at A Small Victory posts her thoughts about this lack of recognition.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 7, 2003 9:27 AM

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