Our downtown offices had TVs situated by the elevators. I had been hustling toward a colleague’s office, intent on confirming information in an e-mail (concerning a particularly nasty piece of work who had been spotted the night prior at Hereford’s ) when I happened to catch a replay of American Airlines Flight 11 exploding into Building 1.
My first thought was it was a horrible miscalculation on the pilots’ part. My second thought was the pilots must have already been dead prior to the collision, or their equipment was malfunctioning: planes just don’t fly into buildings, right?
Then the network cut to a live feed as Flight 175 blew into Building 2.
So, no accident then.
We had been scheduled to fly to Virginia Beach Sept 15th to visit my brother-in-law, his wife and new baby before his carrier group steamed off for the other side of the world. Our plans immediately changed; no planes were flying on the 15th. Instead we rented a spacious Olds and spent 2 days driving across the eastern United States, the car’s radio tuned to an endless series of shocked and outraged voices across the AM dial. My devastated mother-in-law hunched in the back seat and cried without surcease across the country; the more virulent the AM blowhard, the more obvious it was that her only son would soon be away for years, only to be finally slaughtered in an inevitable world encompassing melee.
I explained to my MiL that a.) her son would be safer aboard a USN carrier group than 99.9% of the rest of the world, and b.) the firestorm to follow would be bloody but brief.
Per usual I was only partially correct.
The Twin Towers’ fall and the subsequent deaths of nearly 3,000 people began a painful national ordeal that may never end.
We’re but a few days away from the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and already the media blitzkrieg has started. If I had to guess I would peg the number of upcoming documentaries, special editions and live coverage of commemorative events at over a 100. 1
I have lost family members, friends and other loved ones over the decades; the pain of the original emotions fades each passing year, like the waning heat of an autumnal sun. Yet I would expect this week — full as it promises to be of endless video replays of the Twin Towers’ destruction; audio excerpts from American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93; innumerable interviews with everyone and anyone who lost a loved one; interviews with anyone who tried to save a stranger/loved one; anyone who stood by and watched in horror; anyone who spent time digging through the rubble; everyone who was deployed to/lost friends/loved ones in Iraq/Afghanistan/places you’ll never hear about– will not be an easy one to endure for those most affected by the event.
I have nothing but sympathy for folks who would rather not be publicly reminded of their loss, just as I feel for those of us who will be nauseated at the gratuitous jingoism, warped patriotism and outright lies sure to wrap many of the aforementioned remembrances.
Because the passing of the last decade has not erased our complicity in 9/11.
It is no more popular to say now then it was in 2001, but the seeds of the fiery bloom of 9/11 were sewn with a uniform brutality over many a bloody season throughout the world by the U.S. government.
We have run roughshod over the world – installing dictators here, deposing them there (when they no longer serve our interests), forcing sovereign countries into doing our bidding and rewarding our friends by lavishing untold and unaccountable billions on them. In doing so –as a matter of sticking a thorn in an enemy’s side– we created, trained and fully armed & supplied Osama bin Laden.
That he turned on us was no surprise and was fortold by our own intelligence agencies. That we didn’t listen is merely indicative of our arrogance.
Nothing has changed in that regard: the Arab Spring has far more to do with food shortages, lack of work and long-term groundwork laid by the CIA and their ilk than Twitter and “spontaneous” democracy 2; the bald adventurism of Iraq and the endless ‘war’ in Afghanistan are also obviously not about ‘democracy’.
Are we so smug a country we truly believe that the people we inflict ‘democracy’ on haven’t failed to notice their murdered fellow citizens, their looted national treasuries, the diminishment of their rights as overseen by figureheads approved and installed by our nation?
Are we so secure a people that the continued rape of American’s constitutional rights in the name of a slogan continues apace? Are we so oblivious that we allow demagogues and zealots to spend the national treasury on unrestrained stupidity, all without an accounting?
Folks, every American has skin in this game: mourn your dead, and rightly so.
But keep a chary eye on Pax Americana.
- We noticed the other day while watching Animals Eating Animals that Animal Planet has produced a 9/11 show. Also? Nickelodeon put together an informative special for kids too young to remember the event; thus is history recorded. ↩
- If, indeed, any of those countries ever end up with anything close to a ‘democracy’. Unless by ‘democracy’ you mean “exclusive long term oil contracts with U.S. government approved oil companies.” ↩