Sep 11, 2006

Legacies of 9/11

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 changed America.

As I read the above sentence my first instinct is to hit the backspace key and write something more erudite, something less clichéd, something more profound. Writers strive for creating prose that is original and that sets them apart from the rest of the mundane pack.

And yet no sentence better captures the considerable legacies of the events of 9/11, for that day marked an end to our collective innocence. Terrorism was no longer a term used to describe events in some distant land, with unknown victims and place names familiar only to the learned.

Terror was here.

Thousands of American families (and families from around the globe) lost loved ones that day, and many tens of thousands of people were directly affected by the terrorist attacks. The rest of us sat glued to our television sets on September 11, and the news coverage etched the events forever into our minds.

I was at work that morning, and a coworker grabbed me just before 9:00 am to see the news about the first plane striking a tower. On live television I watched as the second plane hit, not knowing what I was witnessing, but understanding that the world was suddenly very different.

As the news unfolded that the attacks were of a terrorist nature, I wanted to run to my children's schools, take them out of class, and bolt the front door of my home. All I could think of was to try and control something, to try and reclaim a piece of "normal" again.

9/11 also marked the beginning of an era of war, as the campaign to root out terror has evolved into a regional war with fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan; this war threatens to drag the world into a much wider conflict that, with each passing day, has less to do with "terror" and more to do with regional and global hegemony. The unified America in the months after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon has given way to a nation deeply divided over the actions of its leaders.

The desire to root out terrorists and prevent future terror attacks was an understandable legacy of September 11. An unfortunate result of that noble goal has been the steady erosion of civil liberties, as well as an executive branch of the federal government that has consistently ignored the rule of law in its zeal to preclude terror.

As we today remember the victims of the terrorist attacks, let us also pause to consider the ways in which this nation has changed since that point, and, in the areas in which our ideals have been tarnished, let us work to restore the good in the United States.


Billy Pilgrim said...

An objective and sobering post, Mike. So much of today will be wasted on cliches, self-glorification, and mock heroism; it is a rare journalist indeed who gives pause for self-awareness and takes inventory of our gains and losses since that fateful day. I sincerely hope voters of all parties and political affiliations will keep 9/11 in mind when voting in this year's midterm elections...but I do not assert this for pathos, but rather for the sake of accountability. It is high time we hold our leaders accountable for their 9/11 lip service when, more often than not, their intentions are to enhance their own power and public image.

microdot said...

Mike, on September 11, 2001, I was waking up in my apartment on East 5th Street and Avenue B in the East Village in Manhattan. I still have the apartment and have had the lease there for the last 26 years. I heard a noise in the hall way and I opened the door and my neighbor was trying to get onto the roof. I asked her what she was doing and she was practically incoherent. I got the door open and from the roof we had an unobstructed view straight across lower Manhattan of the Trade Center Towers, one of which was belching a column of smoke near the top! We watched in fear and awe! I tried to get some kind of info from the Media. the TV was out because the transmitters were on the Trade Center roof and there was just incoherent reports on the radio...imagine Howard Stern trying to cover this.........
I got on my bike and rode to Union Square where there were crowds of people milling around already. Rumors were rampant...I had already lived through the first bombing attempt in 93, so I was ready for any eventuality..
I rode to 6th Avenue and was at Canal and 6th when I saw the other plane coming in insanely low in slow motion eating up the space between it and the 2nd Tower. I wasn't the only one, I was on my bike, stopped in traffic, traffic, mouth agape as the plane slammed into the building and exploded through the other side in my direction.
I spent the next few hours watching the events unfold and was transfixed as the towers collapsed.
The panic on the street was incredible....the wall of dust roaring up 6th Avenue! I am so glad I resiisted my impulses to go closer! I got out of there as fast as I could because of the dust. I was back at Union Square with the crowd that had assembled there, I met friends and went home to make some sense of what I had experienced.
The next few days were insane as I was supposed to fly back to France and my flight was cancelled 3 times. Living below 14th Street was crazy because there were so many checkpoints and I was challenged when ever I went a few blocks in any direction! Finally I got a flight to France, I had to pay some extra fees and yellow paint pigment was consfiscated out my luggage for no reason (Yellow Cake?) They did let me keep the containers of tahini and ancho chilies I use for Mexican cooking!
Okay, that's my 9/11 story, I'm over it. I was amazed that the world was so gracious to America and opened their hearts everywhere! How America squandered and soiled that good will!
I am so angry that 9/11 has become the cornerstone of the Republicans ritual of fear theyy use to dismantle the rights we should be enjoying.
I'm over 9/11! No self pitying navel staring psychotic replays of the event over and over again!
Terrible things happen all over the world every day!
Things happen for a reason!
Right now, Iraq is all we hear about, but the entire unspoken history of Afghanistan is what need to be told! The betrayal of Mamoud and how the USA let him be assasinated. The very bungled attempts by the Bush Cartel to strong arm the Taliban into a pipeline deal in Germany a few weeks before 9/11!
The rise of Karzei and his thug brother who controls the Opium Trade in the place that supplies 90% of the worlds HEROIN! Has anyone in the USA heard of the disasterous crop failure and drought in Afghanistan that threatens 1,000,000 people this year? The Taliban controls most of Afghanistan now and now we are back to fighting an all out war with daily deaths of American soldiers.
Things aren't going all so swimmingly in Iraq either...
On my blog page, I've chosen not to write about 9/11...instead, check out some pictures of la St. Cloud! C'est la Fete! The big village festivaL here in Badefols d"Ans! We got it all going, fireworks, tractor parades, Itt's a harvest time festival dating back over 600 years.There is a market selling garlics and onions and pumpkins and squashes as well as lot so of regional samples of all the aperatifs!
Rides, Nougat, Barbe a Papa! A Ball, the Veal Calf Auction and of course this afternoon, the big feast!
9/11, I'm over it!

Kathleen Marie said...

I wrote a bit of a post on 9-11 myself. We do need to reflect. I think the world has gone a little overboard, to extremes that aren't necessary, but we do need to keep an eye open as it could happen again.

I don't know what to make of our government anymore. As I have told you before we need a strong third party to arise but unfortunately that certainly won't happen before the next election.

I agree with Mr. Pilgrim that we do need to hold our leaders accountable. We also need leaders who are worthy of our respect in all areas of their life.

If our country continues to weaken it is really scary to think who might be elected next.

Thanks for a great post.

wjohnson said...

I want to start off with that I am new to bloggs so I hope I do not commit any social missteps within blogging.
I agree with Kathleen Marie wrote. There is one thing that keeps recurring to me as being an uneasy, self evident aspect with this administration. When you disagree and find flaws with their rhetoric, you are attacked and labeled as, “Cut and Run Liberal.” But these same label mongering leaders did everything they could to keep from performing their duty when they were called up during their South Asian War. One took five deferments from the draft, another lied to the draft board that he was a full time student giving him as exemption. Another had enough political clout to be a fighter pilot in the ever pressing Texas air campaign. When they were called upon to defend their country, they chose to “Cut and Run.” I should add that I do not have a problem with this fact. But don’t try to come off and play Bucky Bad Ass now. During this same time when I was with MIUW 604, (Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare) we had a name for these people. It was another name for a kitty cat.

When the founders of this country wrote the Constitution with the Bill of Rights, we were under attack by the greatest superpower of the time. The wisdom of our founding fathers still saw the first ten amendments as being very necessary to the citizens of the new country they were forming.

This administration sees an attack by a handful of religious zealots using four commercial planes, and thinks we need to abandon these rights.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (Ben Franklin)
“The success of a Democracy is dependent on the art of truth.” (Thomas Jefferson) (Something this administration does not seem to be concerned with)

The subject of “On Presidential Rhetoric, the Iraq War, and the Role of History” I really enjoyed Mark’s comment of, “I find it ludicrous and irritating that Bush keeps talking about history, even though he has not opened a history book in his life.”
Well done.

Mark said...

I think the most tragic legacy of 9/11 is that the man chiefly responsible for the attacks, Osama Bin Laden, is...

No failure of this administration has been greater. Nothing speaks more clearly about how those who died that day have been let down.

No one has found their kiler.

And surprise, he wasn't hiding in Iraq...he never will be either.

Bush = miserable failure

Hooda Thunkit said...

Well thought out Mike, and unique.

You've done well.