Was 9/11 “devastating”? Think back on Europe, Russia and Japan in 1945, ’46, ’47…

From a friend:


That URL ( begins with a reference to “the devastating attacks on New York and Washington.” I feel I must respond.

I was born in 1952, 7 years after the end of WWII. Signs of the destruction were still around while I was a kid. I grew up hearing stories of the dislocation and terror caused by enemy attacks and invasion. My father had been lucky to survive 1 and a half years in German concentration camps, and both sides of my family had managed to live through the hell of the war years. Not to mention the immense destruction—TRUE devastation—of Italy and all of Western Europe, and the 50 million people who lost their lives in that conflict (yes, with nearly 420,000 Americans among them).

In Russia alone, 25 MILLION people gave their lives defending their nation against Hitler’s troops.

Knowing what I know, then, I can’t help but find it inappropriate and, yes, insensitive to 9/11 attacks described as “devastating.” Neither New York nor Washington were burned to the ground like Dresden or Tokyo, or obliterated like Hiroshima or Nagasaki, or reduced to utter rubble—theaters of death—like so many major European cities.

So let’s call those attacks horrific, bestial, inhumane—but not “devastating.” In dealing with that trauma of our own let’s not lose all perspective, or the capacity for empathy with those who suffered far worse not so long ago.

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