A Zogby poll finds that 81 percent of Americans say that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were the most significant historical event of their lives.
Can that be? I have always thought that the most significant historical event of my life was the collapse of the Soviet Union. That's the only thing that has happened in my life, I suspect, that had both the scale and significance of World War II (which I can't put on my list because I'm not quite that old).
I'm not sure I would even put the 9-11 attacks as No. 2. Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination, the first moon landing -- those all have to be up there pretty high. Then no doubt a thing or two has surely happened in my life that has significance I can't yet fully appreciate. All those Nigerian philanthropists, for example.
The commonplace that Sept. 11 changed everything has always seemed wrong to me. We already knew that the world contained terrorists, and that they wanted to kill us, and even that the World Trade Center was a favored target. Sept. 11 certainly made us take the threat more seriously, but it didn't change the nature of the threat in any major way.
What am I missing?