we’re pretty careless when it comes to our innocence

The media told us that America lost it’s innocence on September 11th. We’ve been told this roughly ten zillion times.

This got me to thinking. You know that isn’t good.

I fired up Lexis/Nexis and discovered, whatta ya know, this isn’t the first time we’ve done gone and lost our innocence.

A few examples….

Pearl Harbor (the movie). Every review seemed to use some variation on the phrase. An example….

May 25, 2001, LA Times, Kevin Thomas, Movie Review

The film is sustained by a grand theme: innocence lost. It suggests that the innocence that fired the unhesitating bravery and self-sacrifice of the American people, in battle as well as the home front, carried with it an ignorance that allowed the U.S. to underestimate Japan’s military power and determination.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a long time ago, and we seem to have gained and lost our innocence many times since then.

June 11, 2001, Newsday, Richard Serrano, What
Created Timothy McVeigh?

“America’s innocence was shattered.” (by Timothy McVeigh’s actions in Oklahoma City)

Same author, the previous day, LA Times. McVeigh: The Indelible Legacy of a Mass Killer Contained the sentence (fragment, I might add): “A Shattering of Innocence.”

See also: lots of articles in lots of different publications; from the day of the Oklahoma City bombing, when we lost our innocence, to the day the judge refused to halt McVeigh’s execution, when we again lost our innocence, to the day of McVeigh’s scheduled execution, when we all opened our papers to discover we were about to lose our innocence.

August 17, 2001. Baltimore Sun, David Zurawik. Review:

Barbara Kopple’s “My Generation.” Last sentence: “This is the stuff of poetry, and My Generation is an elegy for an American innocence and optimism lost.”

July 23, 1999. Dick Feagler, Plain Dealer, The Last of our Innocence, Scattered on the Waves.

“Our totem of innocence, preserved from the day that the rest of innocence died. Call me maudlin if you want to. But, as far as I’m concerned there’s been a death in the family.”

For those of you playing along at home, the day we lost our innocence was the day JFK, Sr was shot, the day that the rest of innocence died was the day JFK, Jr died in a plane crash.

Gaaaaah.

This from a modern dance review in The New York Times from June 2, 1985

“Each age begets its own creative spirit and obviously an America that has lost its innocence cannot be the same as it was in the first half of the century.”

There are lots of other incidents where we’ve lost our innocence, according to the Media:

Vietnam, repeatedly
JFK’s Assassination
MLK’s Assassination
RFK’s Assassination
The attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan
The explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger
Every school shooting (involving white suburbanites)
The shark attacks off the NJ coast in 1916
WW I
WW II
Korea
Sputnik
The 2000 Presidential election
The bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland
Watergate
The Clinton Crisis AKA the Monica Lewinsky Scandal
The Titanic (the actual incident, not that damn movie)
The Atlanta child murders
The Gulf War

Okay, I have to stop now. There are lots, lots more, but I’ll leave you with this one.

The Washington Post reported, on July 19, 1981, that “For better or worse, Oldtown [Maryland] has lost its innocence.”

What caused this shocking loss of innocence, you ask?

Brace yourself: Oldtown, Maryland got cable TV.

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