On the day of the September 11 massacre, I was off work, post-call from a night at the hospital. I was puttering in the garden. Then I was on the internet. A friend messaged me to look at the news. One of the twin towers was on fire.
I thought, that's bad. But not earth shattering. Except to whoever was in the tower. He said, no, this is a major fire.
I turned on the news, and saw it was a lot more than that. This was a horrendous fire. Then, watching the news, an airliner flew into the second tower, and it was engulfed in flames. There were people falling from the towers, to their deaths. During those falls, they knew they would die in minutes, or seconds.
Here I am, maybe 3,000 miles away, watching the scene of mass murder. At the time, no one knew who was responsible.
Then, I watched on TV as a tower collapsed. At that moment, I was stunned. I kept thinking, there is something not just wrong, but surreal, about that. On the news, they said there may have been 40,000 people inside.
I emailed my partner, who was in China at the time. He didn't believe me.
Then, the 2nd tower collapsed.
There was a news announcement. Another plane crash, at the Pentagon. Another plane headed to DC.
On that day, thousands of people were murdered. Many thousands more lost their loved ones, their child, their parent, their sibling, their friend, their lover, their spouse, their breadwinner, their confidant, their colleague.
On that day, the sky emptied of airplanes. No vapor trails. Clear blue sky. Eerie, and silent.
There are not many things that happen in a lifetime, when we can say "that day changed the world", or "changed our way of life". But on that day, the world did change, and our way of life did change. For the worse.
Looking back, at all of the water under the bridge, it feels like half a lifetime. Economies were devastated Families lost their source of income. We fought 2 wars. Thousands more died, possibly hundreds of thousands. Politics in the US became more dysfunctional, more brutal, more harsh. The world became more harsh.
Fast forward to today.
Today at work, no one seemed to remember, today is Sept 11th. People do talk about current events, but not this.
It's a day that we should all remember, up close and personal, in detail. I' want to commemorate the date. So much happened. So much changed. Those of us here, now, despite what we've gone through, we are the fortunate ones.
I don't have anything political, or social, or religious to say today. Just, that I remember.
Replies are closed for this discussion.
My interest here was as a reminder of the losses we experienced, and what those people went through, and what has happened to the survivors.
To be honest, I should express the same thing about the flood of New Orleans August 29, 2005. The official death toll there was 1,464. The city was decimated. Many thousands of people were displaced, and lost their living. And as that was happening, I did feel it. I think the infamous date is part of why I remember 9/11 and not 8/29.
Maybe there's also the difference because one was an attack, the other a supposed natural disaster. In the Dec 26th Tsunami in 2004, around 230,000 were killed. But we don't mark that date either. I think, more distant. And that did not change my way of life, and neither did the New Orleans disaster. 9/11 did.
I don't see any silver lining either.
In conversation yesterday I just found out that a (recently hired) co-worker was communications officer for 200 ambulances at that event. He had mentioned that he was going to a memorial
I personally simply don't do ritual. Volunteering to help in a bad time is one thing, memorializing the events is very much another. As bad as this was it doesn't touch the scale what's happening in Syria, or any warzone for that matter.
The residue of this is that the government went into a full scale panic (from which it has not really returned) and taken on a strongly authoritarian bent. Our nation has become more xenphobic, the anti immigrant movements that have shaken up our culture were driven from this.
The damage to the country is far deeper than the deaths.
No silver lining, no lessons to be learned (that I can discern).
I was shocked, and we do have lessons to learn.
One month later (October 2001) I was at an ACLU activists conference in San Francisco. It allowed time for those attending to say a few words and many spoke of their reactions to those events. I told the conference:
In 1952 I returned from combat in the Korean War. One year later I heard of our CIA's overthrowing an elected government in Iran. More time passed before I learned that we (the US of A) installed a tyrant. Still more time passed before I learned that we (the US of A again) trained the Shah's secret police to frighten the Iranian people into obedience.
American foreign policy has for decades been on a collision course with our civil liberties.
That's what I told the conference. Later I began saying, and I still say, 9/11 was payback for America's Middle East foreign policy.
There are lessons to learn, but will America's leaders learn them?
9/11 was payback for America's Middle East foreign policy.
I read some about the causes of terrorism a couple years ago. One major cause is people not having rights in their countries. Lack of democracy, no channel for effective action.
One major cause is people not having rights in their countries.
That's very true, but much depends on who wrote what you read.
American foreign aid money is one of the reasons for the lack of democracy.
After 25 years, Iranians overthrew their American-backed shah and the ayatollahs returned from exile. America admitted the shah for medical treatment and angry young Iranians took over the American embassy.
Elsewhere during the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union, America gave foreign aid to any ruler who opposed the Soviet Union. Those rulers jailed or killed all who opposed their rule.
To survive, many left their homelands. Today their sons and grandsons are the non-state actors, the terrorists, who are killing Americans.
I wasn't disagreeing. It was a short-sighted foreign policy. And immoral. Probably idealistic goals like doing right by the people of Iran, got lost because of "realistic" immediate goals - and long-term it hurt the USA as well as the people of Iran. Better to stay on the moral high ground.
I saw a bit of a BBC documentary on Iran. It seems there are many young people in Iran who aren't at all fundamentalist. Iran isn't in fundamentalist lockdown, there's a lot of variety.
The people who join this site from those Middle Eastern countries, are also cause for hope.
Probably idealistic goals like doing right by the people of Iran, got lost....
Luara, (BTW I hope you're recuperating) There were no idealistic goals to lose.
For both a short summary and a longer history than most people want, search Wikipedia for 1953 Iranian coup.
Before you read it inoculate yourself with this: Our earliest ancestors were pond scum, and to be honest we have come a long way.
well, we (the USA) do supposedly care about human rights and democracy in the rest of the world. The decision-makers probably thought they were being hardboiled and realistic about Iran.
But in the long term, it's more realistic to care about the humans elsewhere. Idealism is realistic.
The US has actively and purposefully done more to frustrate democracy abroad than any other nation. It's not idealism unless one considers economic hegemony an ideal.
Idealism is realistic.
The dictionary I use, New Oxford American, says to contrast idealism and realism. Please do.
Politics taught me new definitions for idealist and cynic. They do not conform to the definitions I heard in college philosophy courses; I will prefix them here.
Political idealists want the world to be better than it can be.
Political cynics want the world to be worse than it is.
I usually have to explain the second. Political cynics want the world to be worse than it is so their deeds draw less attention.
There are lessons to learn, but will America's leaders learn them?
Will the American people learn them? Ever?
I spend/waste a lot of time reading the comments following Yahoo tabloid "News" articles, and there still seem to be more idiots out there than I could imagine; people who are sure Obama is a secret Muslim (although that may be a code euphemism for the n-word), that Hawaii isn't a state (it didn't seem to bother anyone in 2008 that John McCain was born in the Canal Zone, which was never part of the US), that church/state separatists are trying to prevent xians from praying on privately-owned land, etc.
There are too many people who ignore or disregard proven facts because they contradict their emotionally comforting beliefs. They never will learn anything because they don't want to, and they are brainwashing their children to be just like them. The only hope for all of us is that some of their children aren't buying that bull.
I was spending the Spring/Summer/Autumn of 2001 on my old mining claims way up above timberline in Colorado. Ironically, I had also been up there on that other 9/11 in 1973 (CIA backed coup in Chile), hiding from Nixon and living like a bear in a mine tunnel at 13,000'.
It had snowed a little the night before, and I watched the white melt off as sun struck the high peaks to the west and I crunched down to the lake and caught a fish for breakfast. Back at the old roofless cabin I kindled a fire and then spun the hand-cranked radio to catch the morning news. Amid the usual stuff was a matter-of-fact report that a small airplane had just collided with one of the World Trade towers -- an unfortunate accident. And then came reports that it was actually a large airliner, and then that another had hit the second tower. I never made breakfast that morning, but instead cranked the radio almost continuously for hours, days, weeks.
I stayed up there for another couple of months until deepening snow drove me down. In that time I had heard our President speak the word 'Crusade', and I started thinking about maybe not going back down at all. I met only one other person in that time, and he hadn't heard of the attacks. We shared his half-gallon of Jack Daniels sitting around the fire and talking about war and religion.
Unlike most of humanity, I didn't see the images of 9/11 until catching a retrospective ten years later. I had my own reaction from the radio reports, and a lot of solitary time to contemplate the consequences. But I missed getting the visceral punch in the gut that most experienced, if not directly then almost immediately, in the way that only images convey.
I was outraged when my nation went to war with Afghanistan for emotional reasons -- pure revenge with very little rational counterbalance or legal validity. Hell, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, as were the instigators and German based planners. But we didn't hold the house of Saud or Germany accountable. No, we attacked the hideout of bin Laden.
Now I wasn't and am not a fan of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan or anywhere. They horribly persecute anyone not conforming to their religious fundamentalism and have acted much like Alabama politicians did during the reign of the KKK. The US demanded that they turn over bin Laden, and they refused on grounds that we hadn't provided evidence of culpability as recognized under international law, which was true at the time. Nonetheless, they offered to try to capture and extradite him to Pakistan, and our government refused the offer. We were a wounded animal hell-bent on revenge and just had to kill something -- anything. And so we killed Afghanistan and are still dealing with the stinking corpse a dozen years on. And then, incredibly, while on a bloody roll, we also killed our old ally turned enemy Iraq on entirely conflated 'evidence', despite the fact that doing so ran precisely counter to any US interests.
The US forever lost any pretense of moral authority on 8/6-8/9/1945, and threw away its last scrap of credibility on 3/19/2003.