from a professor, I'm not sure what I think of it yet, but thought some of you may like to read it.
Comments by Roger Angell, a member of the World War II generation (and one of the
most eloquent writers on baseball, on the “age” meaning of the events of September 11:
Laughing a little at Tom Brokaw’s goo about our generation, groaning at the choir music behind the titles to “Band of Brothers,” we can think, I was in that stuff, too, but in truth what we’ve been good at all this time is bystanding. Our own war felt like immensely long and tedious
stretches of “And now for something completely different!” with people dying in gigantic numbers but mostly somewhere else. All this time, we’ve forced ourselves to imagine what it was like to be there–in Guadalcanal, in Stalingrad, at Khe Sanh, in Sarajevo and Belfast and Pastestine–and found the apparatus wanting.
Bad news is unimaginable, but it keeps on coming and keeps on ending, as the distantly awful or immediately scary wears down into Then and, in time, to Back Then. Pearl Harbor came in the middle of a Sunday-afternoon bridge game at college. A first friend went down piloting a Navy bomber in Louisiana, in training and there were more. Guys in our troopship bay whose luck ran out in Saipan. A brother-in-law shot again and again and lying for two days on the field at Belfort Gap–he persists, smiles gently, bent over his canes. We woke up to Hiroshima, Dallas came at lunchtime, and My Lai by slow degrees. Young people have been looking at us lately and saying, “I don’t see how you could have done that, gone through so much. It’s beyond my imagination,” and we think, Kid, there’s nothing to it. Just wait and see.
Now that’s over. Now we’re all the same age together. None of us is young this week, and, with death and calamity just down the street, few of us vicarious any longer.
New Yorker Magazine September 24, 2001