The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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October 26, 2001 Issue

Truth not hyberbole

We need to maintain historical perspective

By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

Hyperbole continues as one remnant of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. For example, it's often said that Sept. 11 was the darkest day in American history.

Yes, the horrendous attacks took an incredibly high toll in human life, property damage and damage to the national psyche.

But a far darker day in American history occurred April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter, S.C., beginning the U.S. Civil War that ended almost four years to the day later on April 9, 1865.

During this four-year war in which countrymen -- and often family members -- fought each other, some 620,000 soldiers were killed. That is almost as many as the combined American dead of all wars from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam War. More soldiers died as the result of the Battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg) on Sept. 17, 1862, than were killed by the terrorists on Sept. 11.

At stake throughout the Civil War was our nation's existence. The Sept. 11 attacks have not brought that into question. In addition, more than 136 years after the Civil War ended, we continue to deal with its legacy.

We cannot allow the horror of Sept. 11 to replace truth with hyperbole.

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