Daily Dose: The Most Important Moment in American History?

In a recent blog posting from the Washington Post’s Al Kamen, we find an interesting, slightly tongue-in-cheek debate going on about who actually takes credit for the SEAL Operation that took down bin Laden. Obama, Bush, or as Kamen writes:

Some folks tried to give Bill Clinton credit as well, since he launched that missile attack against bin Laden in 1998 and the early CIA operation tracking him. Others note that John F. Kennedy, in 1962, set up the SEAL teams that carried out the operation. And FDR set up the precursor to the CIA.

We’re pretty sure Millard Fillmore had a hand in all this, too, but still checking that out.

The most important moment in American history involved . . . Bush?

Sure, all perhaps played a part, but does it really matter at this point? I think it’s time we move past partisan rhetoric, and discuss a much deeper issue here: Apparently, our nation is already beginning to forget its own history!

When you look back across the annals of American History, what sticks out in your mind as the most significant moment? Yes, the United States is a much younger nation when compared to others around the world, but we still have a very rich history, rife with compelling events, good and bad.

On the other hand, there most surely have been a number of events in recent history that have altered the way we live both domestically and globally. But what about the other 230+ years? I in no way doubt the significance of events such as the death of bin Laden, the war against terror, or even the attacks of 9/11, but it just seems unwise to forget the sacrifices and significant events of the past and how they led us to where we are today as a nation. Kamen writes again:

The “most important moment maybe in American history?” It [Bush’s speech at Ground Zero] was a dramatic and moving call to action, pretty much perfect, but a more “important moment” than, say, Washington crossing the Delaware? Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox? Lincoln’s assassination? Pearl Harbor? D-Day? Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”? Bush I’s “Read my lips, no new taxes”? “Ask not what your country can do for you”? The pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth Rock?

So what is it? What, in your opinion, is the most important event in American History? Is it a specific person, perhaps a president? An event or a battle? Maybe for you it is an event of recent history? Let us know what you think in the comments below!


“Daily Dose of the Washington Post” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with The Washington Post. If you see great stories in the Post and want to ask a question around it, please send them to [email protected].

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Stephen Peteritas

This is so hard cause in history you can’t have one with out the other type of deal. If we never become a country nothing ever happens. Even with that said I’m going the North declaring war on the South, just because it has set so many precedents that hold true to this day: first true step in equal rights, first step to actually feeling like a country and first step to how our gov’t is actually structured as far as federal, state and local.

Peter Sperry

@Stephen — I think you are correct about the impact of the Civil War and would add the carnage of the war (more dead than all other U.S. conflicts combined until Gulf War I) and the devestation left in the South built a commitment that we would never again settle our differences with violence. A concensus which has held for 150 years with only minor exceptions from Alinskites between 65-75. God, willing it will hold for another 150.

BTW, technically, the North never declared war, they responded to an unprovoked attack by South Carolina upon Ft. Sumpter. Historians have debated for years whether Lincoln would have been willing to fire the first shot if the south had been less belicose in their exit.

Rick Bishop

I’m convinced that the most iimportant moment in the 20th century was passage of the GI Bill in 1944. By 1956, half of all WW2 vets had taken higher education or training, initiating an economic and industrial powerhouse that created a standard of living never even dreamed of by the average citizen.


I believe the most important moment in U.S. History was when George Washington refused to serve a third term as President (which goes along with his refusal to be king as well). This set up the two term limit for presidents until FDR decided to try for a third and then fourth tem. Remember “power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutey”.

Carol Davison

The Bill of Rights were ratified December 15, 1791. This is what made America the land of the free. orne I was tempted to list the declaration but consider it to be more significant to be a FREE country than merely a country.