Boston University professor William Keylor, who teaches history and international relations, said the 2001 attacks without question have surpassed the memory of Pearl Harbor.
Not only is 9/11 closer in time, but the attacks on the World Trade Center were directed against civilians instead of the military, Keylor said. Nearly 3,000 people died that day.
In 1941, Hawaii was not yet a state but a faraway territory. And before 2001, the American mainland had not suffered a large-scale attack by a foreign enemy since the War of 1812, when British troops burned Washington.
Still, Keylor said, many of his students are familiar with Pearl Harbor’s iconic place in American history — including students from Japan.
“They were very aware of the situation and quite interested in it,” he said.