Blip from the Past: The terrible and sad week

Since this 9/11 anniversary lands on a Tuesday, as had the original events of September 11, 2001, I offer this emotional post from September 16, 2001. A decade has come and gone and we’re still fighting on in Afghanistan (and to some extent, in Pakistan), but Osama bin Laden became fish food on May 2, 2011, four months short of the ten year anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We’ve also just ended combat operations in Iraq — a very expensive spin-off war courtesy of the Bush Administration with its ever-changing ‘objectives’: 1) Iraq has weapons of mass destruction…but they didn’t — just some rusty old parts dating back to 1991, buried near an abandoned farm; 2) We must topple Dictator Supreme Saddam Hussein (even though we called him our “friend” during the Iran embargo of the 1980s because he allowed us to use his air strips); 3) And we must stop the civil wars and all of those pesky insurgents (even though we never bothered to learn about the social culture and history of the region before we invaded). Ah, well…but I digress…

Besides writing the post below, I had also created a Flash movie (in Flash 5, when Macromedia owned it — yeah, that long ago) — crude but cathartic. Yes, it was indeed a terrible and sad week.


New York rubble
My God. Is this New York?


Where was I just before 6:00 PST, Tuesday, September 11th, 2001? I was just about to swing into my gym’s parking lot to begin my morning workout. I was listening to one of my favorite San Diego radio stations as the morning team conducted a phone interview with Montel Williams. Montel suddenly interrupted one of the deejays, informing them that a plane had just hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. At first I thought Montel was making a joke — a very sick joke. I mean, something like that couldn’t happen in America, right?

But he wasn’t joking. Montel was emphatic, insisting that the United States conduct a quick retaliation against the thugs responsible, once they’ve been identified. I hurriedly parked my Jeep and ran inside the gym,  shoved my gym bag into a locker and headed for the cardio workout room where they had various television sets tuned to news programs.

An image I'll never forget...I couldn’t believe what I saw on the screens. Footage of an airliner slamming (slicing?) its way into the second tower. Unbelievable. Was this really happening in New York? In the United States of America? In the span of forty minutes I learned that the Pentagon had been similarly attacked and that another hijacked airliner had plowed into the ground outside of Pittsburgh.

This was happening in my country. The United States of America. How could I ever have thought I’d witness something like this happen on U.S. soil, and in my own lifetime? Of Pearl Harbor proportions? No, worse than Pearl Harbor, much worse by death toll alone. Never in my wildest dreams. Utter, absolute disbelief. No, this was not Diehard IV. This was real. And it happened on September 11, 2001.

By the time I’d left the gym, I’d heard that the South Tower had collapsed. Once I’d reached home to take my shower and head for the lab, the other tower was gone.

I live in San Diego, California — basically a town with a large military presence as well as a resort city. San Diego City College, where I’m working, is located in the downtown area. When there might be a possible terrorist attack, that’s not a good place to be. So the college was instructed to close at noon and everyone had to be off the campus by 1:00 pm.

Nothing to do but go home and watch the news reports. And die a little as I saw the extent of the damage and horror committed against my country. And it’s been, as many Americans will admit, a very bad and sorrowful week. Life will go on because it has to — but never will life be same for us as a nation, as Americans.

I won’t mince words: I refuse to insult the furry creatures of the world by likening the cretins who committed this loathsome, despicable, barbaric act to animals. And there is NO WAY that what they’ve done can either be justified or rationalized. This act was all about hatred, in its most basic and simplest of forms. There is nothing our government may, or may not, have EVER done in its long history to deserve what happened to us this past Tuesday. And to have such horror committed against innocent working Americans, just going about their daily business. These zealots claim no one in America is innocent — but then, what does that say about them and what they did to us?

It took every fiber of my being to tamp down the hatred roiling in my gut. I focused my anger, instead, on the prime suspect, Osama bin Laden and his ilk. And as an American, I think I’m entitled to some anger. And yes, we will be going to war. And no, we Americans don’t like war, despite accusations otherwise. But, let’s face it, we’ve tried the “let’s catch them and bring them to trial” method. It obviously hasn’t worked. And we’re not naive enough to think that if, if we manage to erase bin Laden from the face of the earth, terrorism will become a thing of the past. We realize that by declaring war, we face even more onslaughts by these evil bastards. We know it. But what else can we do? After all of…THIS? Call it revenge, blood-lust, retaliation — whatever. We have to do something, and perhaps this is the only thing these cretins will ever understand. No matter what path we take, war or diplomacy, they’ll never stop hating us. They’ll never stop terrorizing us. “Live free or die” — a radical option, but I’d rather not spend the rest of my life forever looking over my shoulder, cowering in fear.

The only good to be gotten out of this horrible tragedy is the country’s coming together to fight a common evil. We, as a nation, are collectively putting aside (for this moment in history) our partisan differences, stopped the bickering. I am not a fan of George W. Bush, nor will I ever be. My opinion of him will never change, no matter what happens. But at this time, as my country has suffered a horrible attack of war, I must support this man as Commander-In-Chief. I would hope that if Al Gore were our president right now, Republicans would rally ’round him as well.

I attended church today for the first time in seventeen years. That’s a pretty dramatic about-face for a pragmatic cynic like me. (My “hiatus” from organized religion is a long story, which I’ll have to save for a later entry.) It turns out that I’m one of a great many lapsed Christians seeking comfort in spirituality right now. And yes, this morning I joined in a collective prayer for the President, his administration, and all members of Congress. I hope fervently that they all make the best decisions, the right decisions. It is difficult for me to trust the Bush Administration to make those decisions. But I’m going to try my best.

The terrorists expected our country to fragment, to point fingers, to cuckold our leaders for what they might, or might not have done to prevent this tragedy. But these cretins figured wrong. And though they won’t admit it, I’m willing to bet the sight of our renewed patriotism is no doubt scaring the shit out of them. Yep, just like most Americans, I’ve got my Jeep’s antenna festooned with red, white and blue ribbons, as well as a small American flag. Heh. Take that, you buggers! A Japanese admiral, just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, told one of his officers: “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant.” Indeed.

I know this a long entry and I’m probably rambling. I’d like to close with some “thank-you’s” and an appeal.

First the “thanks”: THANK YOU to the nations who are standing beside us. Thank you England (and the entire UK) — you’ve always been there for us, no matter the situation. We’ve never even had to ask. And, of course, our good neighbors to the North, Canada — the best neighbor any nation could have. Australia, New Zealand — our “colony” brothers. To Germany, France, all of Scandinavia — you guys ROCK! (Germany has ferreted out one bin Laden affiliate after another.) Thank you, Russia, for your moral support — your people are caring and beautiful. Japan — what can I say? You helped keep the financial markets open so that we wouldn’t take a heavy hit financially, as well as promising to provide relief workers if needed. Israel (who will always be on our side no matter what). China. All of Asia (especially the Philippines), Korea. Italy. The Balkan nations. Africa. Greece. Egypt. This list goes on. Thank you, THANK YOU. You can never know how much your sharing in our grief helps make us stronger.

And now The Appeal to all Americans: Please, please do not judge all Muslims by what these evil terrorists have done. Know that the Koran does not advocate such violence and that the majority of Muslims reject and abhor this kind of behavior. Saudi Arabian jurists have decreed that such acts — especially suicide — are an affront to Islam. These terrorists are practicing their own perverted interpretation of Islamic law and they do not speak for the majority of Muslims of the world — especially Muslims in the United States. I have Arab-American and Persian-American friends who are just as loyal to this country as I am — they are good people. Many are even willing to submit to racial profiling to prove that they are loyal Americans. But, unfortunately, there is a racist element in America just looking for any excuse to persecute persons who are not white or Christian. So, please allow Arab-Americans and Persian-Americans the benefit of the doubt. They, more than anyone right now, understand that we must be cautious. But that doesn’t mean that they should be ostracized in any way.

So, it’s been a trying week. Exhausting, unbelievable, incomprehensible. Things will never be the same, yet life will go on. Because it has to.

God Bless the United States of America.

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Blip from the Past, George W. Bush, heroes, September 11th, Terrorism and tagged , , , , .