September 11, 2001 is one of those dates that will be remembered for the forseeable future. Every generation has an event like this. For that matter, I suppose we actually end up with several such events in the course of our lifetimes. We usually grow up hearing about the events that formed our parents’ views on the world, and as we get older and tragedies affect our own lives, the list continues to grow. The ones I grew up hearing about were the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassinations. Those were the formative events for my parents.
If we wanted to, we could take the succession back every generation, through the sinking of the Lusitania, the Titanic, Krakatoa, the assassination of Lincoln… Such events form our history. They make us who we are.
The earliest such event I can personally recall was the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I was seven years old when that happened. And while I was too young to really appreciate who he was, the coverage was such that I understood that something momentous had occurred. There would be other events; the Challenger explosion during lift off, Columbia’s disintegration on re-entry, but the one that stands above the others for my generation is 9-11. We don’t even list the year. 9-11 is all it takes to immediately anchor a discussion in the vicious attacks – and the tragic deaths.
Below is a piece I wrote for a writer’s forum on the one year anniversary of 9/11. I thought it might be worth revisiting today, on this 11th anniversary. Please read, then comment. Where were you? What were you doing? What were your feelings? What are your feelings now?
All I ask is that you keep your comments respectful. Don’t use this day to play politics.
It’s the first anniversary of the attack on the United States(or 9-11, as we’ve taken to calling it). On my drive in to work this morning, I listened to the comments and interviews on the radio, and felt the anger and anguish coming to the surface again, letting me know that it was still there. True, it has subsided some over the past year, but as I listened to the various talking heads conducting their interviews with WTC and Pentagon attack survivors, I found myself growing more emotional than I had been on 9-11.
I guess a year ago, we were all too stunned. But a year has gone by, and the shock has worn off, and as I listened to a lady who had barely escaped the WTC telling her story I found my eyes trying to tear up.
Now folks, I’m a 6’3”, forty-one year old Texan, and it I can count the number of times I’ve cried as an adult on my fingers. This morning, as I listened to a woman tell about her reunion with her husband and children, I added one more.
And then I found that I was angry again. And the anger turned to resolve. So bear with me as I try to express some of these emotions and my thoughts on them. If I seem to ramble, I apologize, but there is a lot that wants out.
We’ve all heard 9-11 called a tragedy or a disaster, and it was. But we’ve not often heard it described by the words that truly fit. It was a massacre, a cowardly attack, a craven murderous act of war enacted (with the technical exception of the Pentagon) NOT on military targets, but on innocent civilians.
I’ve heard many people wondering “whatever happened to the feeling of outrage and resolve that was so prevalent here right after the attack?” I think that much of the answer is in the politically correct terminology that the governments and media use when referring to 9-11. As I said before, it was indeed a tragedy and a disaster. But most of us here are writers, whether professionals, amateurs, or hobbyists, and one thing we should all know is the power of the written and spoken word. One of the first lessons I learned in a journalism class I took is that there is an art to saying one thing, and projecting a meaning that is slightly skewed from what you actually said. Naked has a slightly different connotation than nude, and a meeting is NOT the same as a rendezvous. I learned to read newspapers and view news reports with this knowledge, and became disillusioned with what I saw at the age of fourteen.
For those of us here in the US, and for those around the world who don’t understand why we continue to push for this “War on Terrorism” in spite of the fact that much of the world is pushing us to back off, remember this:
Yes, 9-11 was a tragedy, and it was a disaster – but above all else, it was the cowardly murder of thousands of innocent people, an attack on our nation, and it was a declaration of war. So yes, remember the lives lost on 9-11, and honor them as they should be honored. Remember the victims and the heroes of the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, and the heroes of Flight 93. But don’t fall into complacency, thinking that this was the same as a tragic hurricane, or a dam breaking. This was deliberate. It was premeditated. And it was unforgivable.
So you can call me arrogant, or war-mongering, or an ignorant red necked Texan. I really don’t care. I’m not saying that we should go after every Muslim and string them up. I don’t believe that at all. And as cliché as it sounds, I have a couple of close friends who are Muslim. They, too, were shocked by the attack, and completely denounce the actions taken by these terrorists. But I feel the anger and the resolve that the majority of us here in the US feel, and I welcome it. I hope it stays with each and every one of us until we manage to destroy every infestation of terrorist low lives on the face of the planet.
Okay. I’ll get down off my soap box. If I’ve offended anyone here . . . well, I can’t understand how I could have, so I won’t say I’m sorry until I’ve heard why you’re offended. If I feel you have a legitimate gripe, I’ll apologize then. Until then, I’m glad I got it out.