Thursday, September 11, 2014

911: Thirteen Years On

Foreward: I wrote this essay on the morning of the 10th anniversary of 911.  Rereading it, I see little I would have said differently. // Jim Wright

It’s been ten years now.

A decade today.

And frankly, I think that’s about enough.

There comes a point where you have to stop reliving the horror over and over.

There comes a point where you have to say enough, this and no more.

I think a decade is enough time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the events of September 11th, 2001 were traumatic on a national scale.  911 was a shock like no other in American history, hell, maybe even in world history.  The modern Information Age saw to that, bringing it right into our living rooms without any delay to soften the impact, live and in horrifying color. 

All of us remember where we were and what we were doing on that terrible morning, I know I certainly do

I’m not in any way saying that we should forget, but there comes a point where you have to allow history to become history.

There comes a point where you have to move on.

Today marks a decade now, since 911.  In that time, we went to war and seven thousand more Americans, some of our very best, died.  Tens of thousands more were maimed and scarred and damaged forever.  Hundreds of thousands of innocents died. 

Entire countries were laid waste.

In the decade since 911, we Americans have became a callous people who can look upon those devastated lands and say, well, you know they had it coming, all of those bastards had it coming including their goddamned children.

In the decade since 911, we became a nation that tortures people and disappears people and detains people, including our citizens, indefinitely without trial or recourse in abject repudiation of the very spirit of our nation’s own founding – and we are unashamed of that and unrepentant. 

In the decade since 911, we have become a nation where, as an American, you must put aside your freedom a dozen times a day. You must show your papers. You must submit to naked body scanners and you must allow unsmiling uniformed men with the force of secret laws behind them to grope the most intimate areas of your children and yourselves. Such has become the price of freedom in America. We have become a nation  where you – as an American – can be detained for a glance or a gesture or a careless word or for checking out the wrong book from the library or for worshipping the wrong God.  We have become a nation where the only acceptable response to uniformed authority is immediate and total submission. Talk back, question, stand pat on the rights of previous generations and you’ll be branded an enemy. We have become a nation that claims to revere liberty and justice, but believes those things can only be had when secret agencies monitor our every email and our every communication without warrant or probable cause. 

The day after 911, September 12th, 2001, Congress stood upon the steps of the Capitol with the smoke of the burning Pentagon still hanging in the air above their heads and solemnly pledged to the American people that they would put aside their partisanship and their personal agendas and work together for the sake of our nation.  

In the decade since that moment we have become a nation divided instead, a nation of partisan rancor writ large – and those who stubbornly proclaim their patriotism loudest are the very ones who would lead us into civil war and secession.  They would destroy what terrorists could not.

And yet, in the decade since 911, we have found those responsible, rooted them out, and ground them into dust.  It took ten years, but Osama bin Laden is dead at the hands of Americans.  So is his successor. So are hundreds of his lieutenants.  So are thousands of his foot soldiers.  

So are many, many others, including thousands of Americans.

But it has not brought us closure.

And it has certainly not brought us peace.

Nor has it healed us as a nation.

911 was horrifying. It was personal to us all, every single American. It left us scarred, as a nation, and traumatized.

And we keep using that horror, that trauma, as an excuse to lash out in a massive case of collective post traumatic stress disorder.

The wounds of that event run deep and are still raw a decade later – but those wounds will not heal so long as we keep picking at the scab over and over and over.

Today, we will relive the horror yet again – a fevered nightmare that simply won’t go away because we will not allow it to go away.  

Again, don’t get me wrong, we should always remember the events of September 11th, 2001, just as we remember Pearl Harbor or the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the hundred other events that shocked and traumatized our nation. But if we are to heal, if we are to move on, we have to stop reliving that horror over and over. 

Certainly we should build the memorials and lay the wreaths.

Of course we should always remember the names of the fallen and hold them sacred.

But we need to stop covering ourselves in the blood of that day.

Today, right now as I write this, hundreds of media channels will play the recordings of those trapped in the towers.  They’ll play those recordings over and over and over again. Recordings of the tortured calls to emergency services and the final calls to loved one.  And we’ll listen, yet again, to the intimate agony of those dying people.  They will play on endless loop the videos of those who jumped seventy stories to their death, lingering lovingly on their faces, speculating about their last moments, reveling in the horror. They interview those who witnessed the death and destruction and horror and they’ll beg, “Tell us what you were thinking. Tell us what you were feeling at that very moment.” We don’t need to know what they were feeling, what they were thinking, because we felt the same exact thing. We’re still feeling it. But we’ll listen anyway like a entire nation slowing down to goggle wide-eyed at a car wreck. 

We’ll watch the towers fall. Again.

We’ll see the Pentagon crumple and explode.  Again.

We’ll hear the tapes of the air traffic controllers, of the horrified confusion in the towers, and the phone calls of those Americans who fought back above the corn fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  

I hear those tortured voices, I see those dying faces, and I don’t feel hate. I don’t feel a need for revenge. I’ve had a decade of hate. I went to war in revenge. I’ve been covered in blood long enough.

Instead, I look at those pictures and I feel revulsion. 

There is something obscene about listening to 911 calls, any 911 call.  While those records may have value to history, it is nothing but a voyeuristic grotesquery to broadcast those intimate communications to a public jaded by reality TV and violent slasher flicks. 

It serves no purpose whatsoever but to keep open festering wounds that should be long scabbed over.

Today, pundits and politicians will use this anniversary to drive us further apart, to reopen the wounds, for their own selfish agendas, to further inflame partisan fervor and to brand their neighbors as enemies and un-American. 

And we will let them do it, because in the decade since 911 we’ve become a nation of cutters who hack at our own flesh with mean abandon.

Since 911, an entire generation has been born and grown to self-awareness.

Those young Americans have never known their nation at peace. 

They have never known a nation that is not divided.

They have never had a single day where they weren’t told to hate their neighbors and to report them if they don’t seem patriotic enough.

They have never lived a single day in a nation that wasn’t bent to the terrible business of revenge.

They have never known a nation that didn’t roil in fear and cringe in terror every single day.

They have never flown on an airplane without having been treated like a criminal.

They have never checked out a book from the library without having been subject to secret scrutiny.

They never sent an unmonitored email or made an unmonitored phone call.

They have never lived in a house that isn’t subject to unwarranted search.

They have never had the right to redress or legal challenge when their name is placed on secret lists – and in point of fact, they don’t even have the right to know if their name is on that list at all.

They have never lived in a nation where they have the right to confront their accuser and demand proof of more than just suspicion.

They have never lived without the threat, however unlikely, of being disappeared.

They have never lived in a nation that didn’t regard the torture of human beings as an acceptable option.

This new generation has lived under the shadow of those falling towers every single minute of every single day since the moment they were born.

The terrorists didn’t do that.

We did it to them.


  1. and then you can go to NYC and pay $25 per person to visit the memorial museum in all it's gratuitous grotesque neo-capitalist shame.

    1. So the taxpayer should pay for the museum instead? Clearly you've never been to any of these memorial sites.

    2. Anon 8.36, I'd argue yes. The taxpayer should pay for the museum instead. As we all pay for the wars, and we all pay for the peace.

    3. if you think i've never been to any of these memorial sites, you'd be clearly mistaken. i'd venture to say that i've been to more memorials more often than most everyone here. put together. you see, that's what i do for a living. so yeah, i do have some insight on the matter. i'm a licensed DC tour guide. i've seen every multi-million dollar crock block of remembrance. i visit the holocaust museum and arlington national cemetery upwards of 20 times a year. and i get to take squishy headed 8th graders over and over and over again so that they too can live in fear while we idolize war with grandiose sentiment. it doesn't matter who's paying for it, it matters that it has to be paid for at all.

    4. This comment sub-thread is now done.

      Move on.

  2. Brilliant and perfectly said. My idea of a perfect 911 tribute would have been to rebuild the towers and go back to business, to show that terrorists don't faze us, that living well is the best revenge. But instead, every year, we slash our wrists and wallow in our own blood.

    1. I agree with you. With an added memorial in the public spaces at their bases.

  3. Right On. The terrorists hated our lifestyle and our freedom and their entire mission was to set both back, pushing the United States closer to the terrorists' idea of an ideal state: locked down, suspicious, divided, not free at all. And they succeeded. We did their work for them, with our Patriot Act, our TSA and our NSA. Thank you, President Dubya and Congress, you did more damage to this country with your blind fear and ignorant rage, than did the terrorists. And I will never forgive you for it.

    1. Or, we kept invading their countries, removing their elected leaders, and circumventing their governing. Perhaps if we had left the ME to deal with Saddam during the Kuwait invasion, OBL and his henchmen wouldn't have been so pissed off.

    2. AQ didn't fly planes into WTC because they thought "The US has democracy and women's rights." If it was about democracy they would be attacking every Western Nation. Terrorist rarely attack for a nebulous ideal. They have an aim - "We will sap your will to do .... "

      The US is identified as Israel's biggest supporter- thus an enemy of Palestinians. It's that simple.

      And while US interventions is a source of contention in many countries, the AQ/Saddam conflation is about the only error possible. OBL/AQ HATED Saddam - Iraq was about the closest to a secular society there was in the ME. Tariq Aziz was a Christian- he changed his name (not religion) to fit in, Baghdad USED to have synagogs. OBL offered Bush Snr help in Kuwait - a sort of thanks for all those weapons they were sent in the 80s! The US turned him down.

    3. In fact, lasthussar, I don't think Palestine was the late, unlamented Bin Laden's top priority in launching his jihad.

      FWIW, OBL's wiki page says : "Notes of a meeting of bin Laden and others on August 20, 1988 indicate that al-Qaeda was a formal group by that time: "Basically an organized Islamic faction, its goal is to lift the word of God, to make his religion victorious." A list of requirements for membership itemized the following: listening ability, good manners, obedience, and making a pledge (bayat) to follow one's superiors.[77]

      From what I gather, Osama's *main* motives seem to have been a mix of extreme Islamist dominionism (ie wanting Islam to rule the world) plus hatred for the Saudi's and the US having troops in the Arabian peninsula and its "holy" cities.

      As so often in the Arab world and among Arab societies and politics, Israel, I think, makes more of a handy scapegoat and the palestinians a convenient excuse more than that issue being the real reason for them doing the terrorism that AQ and now ISIL etc .. do. (Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah aside - those being parties to the Israel-Arab conflict.)

      Off topic tangent really but think it needs noting that If the Arab world had really and truly wanted a Palestinian nation they could've had one many times but blew the chances of it most notably when Egypt and Jordan ran the respective Gaza Strip and West Jordanian bank areas between 1948-67 and the rejected Clinton-Arafat-Rabin-Peres-Ehud Barak peace talks of the 1990's & early 2000's.

      I do agree on the hostile relationship between Saddam and AQ though.

  4. 9/11/2001 was a defining moment for America. So this morning, I raised the American flag, as I do each morning, then lowered it to half-staff. But we cannot, as a country, continue to live as though it happened yesterday, so I'm making no other observance of the events of 9/11/01.

    I think we owe our children, and ourselves, permission to heal.

  5. I almost swore off the computer this morning, expecting to see the usual flood of grisly reminders. And there's no way I'm going to a news site or watching the TV news today. I still remember the freedoms we had before 9/11, and I grieve their loss. And it all happened with and was accepted by the American people in the name of some vague sense of security. Truly, Bin Laden scored a great victory that day, with the willing participation of his victims.

    1. I didn't watch any news on TV or go to any internet news sites yesterday either. However, I made the mistake of going on FB where one of my "friends" posted a request for people to write down their memories of that awful day. Like a fool I read a few responses and was in tears again, all these years later, just like it had happened yesterday. Jim hit the nail on the head... we collectively keep picking the scab off. It's horrible and it has to stop. Next year, no TV or computer for me.

  6. "since 911 we’ve become a nation of cutters who hack at our own flesh with mean abandon"

    Never were truer, or sadder, words ever spoken.

  7. Until a middle age white protestant male citizens have their names placed on a no-fly list or arrested with no rights. Majority of white Americans accept these laws and restrictions because in their minds, these laws do not affect them. As white Americans, they believe they still have their pre-2001 rights. The loss of rights and freedoms are for the "other" people. And until middle age white protestant men become "others", nothing will change.

    1. I used to get so aggravated, while living in the UK for a few years (until I returned 2 years ago), that EVERY time I'd re-enter the US I'd be taken aside for "Secondary Screening". Twice it involved me missing connecting flights, with no help or redress from CBP for the foul ups. At no time was I ever informed what was going on except that they were looking for someone. I had a TSA redress number after a while but that made no difference at all, and in Chicago I was subjected to treatment that was well beyond rude and bordered (but didn't quite cross the line) to physical assault by 2 different CBP personnel. My offense - I asked after they cleared me (and I cooperated nicely the whole time), "Can you tell me what this was about?" In England at Manchester Airport they took my passport and disappeared. After 30 minutes I tried to get someone to find out what was going on. "Your ID please?" "You have my passport" "I need to see your passport - you should have it with you at all times. I can't accept your driver's license as ID". "YOU HAVE MY PASSPORT" (this was to the same guy who took it). God it's maddening.

      I'm white, upper middle age, Protestant (at least in theory but quite disillusioned for other reasons). I dread the thought of flying these days. Thankfully, domestically it seems ok. Overseas is a problem. This has been happening to me for YEARS, and it's not random. It happens every single time.

      I complained in Chicago. I requested to see a supervisor and was denied. I complained in writing and received no response. In contrast, I'll say the CBP staff in Philly were quite nice. Boston, not so much. I have a very Anglo-Saxon sounding name and am perfectly "normal" looking so it's not profiling. Apparently they are looking for someone and the net is cast wide. Once you are snared you cannot get free. I hate it.

      And of course, they don't know this (or maybe they do :-) ) but I'm a former Army officer, paratrooper, worked a whole career in a defense contractor, and until early retirement held either Secret or Top Secret clearances. And yet, this happens.... all the time.

      All that got me wound up - sorry. The point is that it DOES happen to what I would call "ordinary" people who don't fit any profile. I knew another American with the same name - different middle names. We were both assigned to the UK and compared. His experience was the same as mine. To the letter. It was a name thing.

  8. That was fantastic Jim. I feel the same way, but won't vocalize it because I don't need the backlash from friends and family who are once again, scratching the wounds raw by reliving everything. We are never going to move on from this. The media has too much to gain from ratings because we can't stop watching. I'm not doing anything today to publicly acknowledge it. I'm just going to quietly remember those who perished that day, and the many thousands who paid the price for the poor decisions made in the years after.

  9. I woke up this morning thinking that we should declare 9/11 a national day of forgetting. It's time to move on.

    (And, no, I don't really mean forget it all. But it's time to let it become part of history, not a goad to further destruction and self-destruction.)

    1. I did not watch any retrospectives or memorials on TV, but that was too easy, as I do not have cable service. Memorials and retrospectives are for anniversaries divisible by 25. I took time to read various newspapers and reflect on the events since 9/11.

      What was the US like before 9/11? What have we citizens lost, or been rushed into giving up? We seem to have abandoned our regard for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, our most unique and powerful heritage. We have abandoned our commitments to human rights and international treaties regarding the treatment of enemy combatants. (No, I am not a pacifist. I grew up in Washington, DC, around some interesting people.)

      I would not live in any other nation in the world than the USA. But, we do need to ask ourselves what have we become as a nation since 9/11, and what do we want to become 13 years and more post- 9/11?

  10. They stood so tall, simple towers rising in lower Manhattan. I remember many a day walking down 14th St. and turning the corner to University place and there they were, almost filling the skyline. My first job at 16 was a Wall Street runner, in the days when you hand delivered checks and stocks. It was always fun to go to the towers, up to 104 because you could literally feel the building sway back and forth.
    They stood out so much that from Long Island in the summertime you could gauge how humid it was based on whether you could see the towers or not.
    I have the NY Daily News from 9/12. showing the pictures of the people jumping, the buildings burning and collapsing. It's stored away, just like my grandparents stored away the paper from Dec 8, 1941 or July 21, 1969.
    Today I just faintly remember that sway of the building from so long ago

    1. I have an interesting memory of the Towers...in the mid-80s, as a child, my uncle took my brothers and cousin up to his office on...I believe it was the 87th floor to watch the Fourth of July fireworks display. It was an amazing experience--until I looked down and saw how _small_ everything was.

      It took time for me to get used to the fact that I would never see them on the horizon again after so many years of living near and visiting New York.

      I wish, I wish things could have taken a different turn after that horror, had cooler heads prevailed.

    2. @ ^ Marc McKenzie : "I wish things could have taken a different turn after that horror, had cooler heads prevailed."

      You, me and many others.

      Small consolation but I do think things could have been even worse. On that night when I turned on my (Aussie) TV and saw instead what I first took for a terrible disaster movie until the shocking reality dawned; I feared the US would use the A or H Bombs on those who committed that atrocity - and those who also happened to live there guiltlessly. We have, at least, avoided that.

      I think Indian author Arundati Roy summed it up very well when she wrote (paraphrasing from memory) that every death in the wars since has added to not subtracted from the toll of victims and grief of 9-11.

      PS. Sorry if this turns up twice. Don't think the last one went through.

  11. I've spent part of my morning deleting emails and hiding postings on FB... people picking the scabs. Rolling with wild abandon in emotion and anger and huffing-puffing sanctimony.
    Yes, I remember what I was doing and all the confusion. Yes, I remember wondering why, if this was an attack to take out the US, were the targets not internet nodes, power stations, infrastructure? We know now, I suppose. Bin Laden may have judged the national mental state more accurately than we thought and did the one thing that would turn the state into a caricature of what it had been.
    I'm keeping my mouth shut, otherwise, and my thoughts to myself lest the patriot-gizzards get their hands on me and tear me into small pieces, figuratively.
    Thanks, Mr. Wright, for keeping on with clarity and thoughtfulness.

  12. This morning I turned on the TV; click through the channels; landed on MSNBC and sure enough they were playing the entire 9/11 disaster in it's entirety - Brian Williams et al. I thought, oh no. When are we going to stop showing this? I agree with laying wreaths and having moments of silence, but as you say we need to stop covering ourselves in blood.

  13. It's time for me to be honest, I'm more scared of us then them.

    1. What "us"? It's an honest question, because there sure as shit is no "us" as a nation anymore, so what group of "us" are you talking about?

  14. I remember where I was on 9/11/01. I had just returned from my morning walk when my neighbor said something about a plane crashing into the WTC towers. I went inside and turned on my TV in time to see a replay of the first airliner crashing into the tower. I immediately turned off my TV and said to myself, "That is going to change everything in the press for months, if not years, to come, and I will not watch it or read about it, ever, as I do not want those images in my mind." And to this day I have stuck to that decision. I knew this country's press would be obsessed with it, however little did I imagine for how long that would be, and what other ramifications it would have on our lives. Thanks, Jim, for your insights into how far reaching the effects of that day were, and are, for all of us.

  15. I remember that Tuesday. I walked up from the subway mesmerized by the bluest Philadelphia sky I had ever seen.

    Chris in South Jersey

    1. Chris, the clear blue sky was the thing that I found so....bizarre. The Towers are burning, there's devastation on a scale no one had ever imaged....all taking place under the blue sky of what should have been a beautiful September day.

      And then there was the eerie silence for days due to the grounding of aircraft.

    2. A friend and I were talking about how blue the sky was that day.
      However, it is time (past time) to let go. Jim is right, it's time to let history be history.

    3. I agree 100%. All of this hand holding, pearl clutching nonsense is nothing more than media driven bullshit designed to drive a narrative. Time to let it go.

      Chris in South Jersey

  16. As a flyover country resident, I remember weeks and weeks of no one flying over.

    1. I lived in Topeka, Kansas, on 09/11/2001. Talk about "Flyover Country"! Consequently, though, contrails often crisscrossed the skies above me.

      Some hours after the attacks, all planes had been grounded. I chanced to go outside. It must have been around 2:30 to 3:00 in the afternoon. High overhead, was a single contrail, notable for its starkness and isolation. Air Force One, heading to Offutt from Louisiana.

      It was the last contrail I saw for many, many days.

  17. I was in the Navy on 9/11. I was an OS2 (Operations Specialist 2nd Class/E-5 for those who don't know) assigned to CCG2 (Commander Carrier Group 2) off the USS Truman. Normally I worked out of TFCC (Tactical Flag Command Center) when deployed... but our combat operations had ended in May (some people forget for the Navy Gulf War 1 never really ended) and were back at Norfolk working out of the office and attending various training.

    I was in the office that day. Being the office of a Carrier Group Admiral birds were a dime a dozen, as well as ops/intel/comms types (command was mostly OS/IT/EW/CT/IS types when deployed). We were pretty shocked, and the fliers among us almost instantly knew something was up.

    It was chaos. Needless to say my life became kinda crazy after that. When I left the Navy I moved back home to Washington DC and given my prior career I wound up working out of the Pentagon while it was still being repaired.

    Moving into various international development jobs since then the echos of that event, and our wars are still loud in several areas I've dealt with.

    It's sort of weird, I'm not even really "mad" about it. But in one way or another the ME and those events have dominated most of my professional life. It's just sort of there, the way things are.

  18. Great piece. No less relevant.

    What saddens me the most is that we haven't really learned a damn thing because we have never asked why it happened. Our leaders invented some BS narrative about them hating our freedom. So why didn't they attack Switzerland, much more free than we are?

    We had to fight them over there so we didn't have to fight them here, right? No. We were already over there. Bin Laden, a Saudi, teamed with a group of mostly Saudi hijackers to punish the US for parking our infidel army In Saudi Arabia, using Muslim holy ground as a staging area to attack yet another Muslim country.

    This is the price we paid for freeing Kuwait from the punishment it received because it was stealing Iraqi oil. Why did that concern us?

    A pox on John Ashcroft and his wretched Patriot Act that imposed the tyrannical state described so eloquently above.

  19. Thank you, Jim. I have been saying the same thing for the past three years. It does no good to picking at a scab except to foster infection (an insane fear of all things Islamic) and leave a worse scar. We all remember where we were just as our parents will always remember the circumstances surrounding Pearl Harbor. I have vowed to post a four word statement only on this anniversary "We Will Never Forget". And I proposed, through the petition site that I have forgotten that September 11 be designated as National Unity Day so that all parties may move on and live together. BTW, only one today did I hear someone reference the "Almost 3,000 Americans who died at the World Trade Center..." This is an untruth. It was called the World Trade Center for a reason. The people who died that day in NYC were from 90 different countries. We must remember that we were not the only ones to suffer. Time to unite, join hands and move on into the future instead of dwelling in the past.

  20. Sorry to nitpick, but it's "Foreword"

  21. The worse thing about it was seeing things unfold, before your eyes and not be able to do a dam thing about it - and I'm not talking about 9/11. Good innocent people who were just living and doing their jobs were SACRIFICED that day. To this day I still don't know why, but I hung my head in shame and sorrow when the fist "shock and awe" bomb fell in Iraq. I was like what the f*** is our gvt doing to us, then patriot act, then all the fear ticker symbols all over the news, everywhere you look, commercials about seeing something and saying something. The fear never stopped - you're right, kids who were born during this time will never know peace and are neurotic because of someone's agenda. I watched that day what happened. I also saw WT7 fall and was really WTF, no plane hit it!!!! The the 1st anniversary, politicians babbling and spewing and trying to get their fat faces on tv....its been the same since. Billions were made at the expense of countless peoples killed, slaughtered, murdered and its never ending.
    Personally I'm mourn for the souls sacrificed and weep for the families who lost loved ones. I do not weep or mourn for the moment because someone's or some group's agenda changed our already delicate world into chaos. I can honestly say that I do not believe the "official" explanation of events that took place. I do believe planes flew into the WTC - I watched them - everything after that in my humble opinion was a distraction. I'm not trying to convince anyone to follow my beliefs, everyone needs to decide on their own. I was never like this until I watched that State of the Union speech back in 92 I think where Bush Senior mentioned "New World Order" - that's when the world started to implode IMO.

    1. I'm no Truther, but I, too, have doubts that what we were told happened is actually what really happened. There are too many parts that just don't make sense. Too many pieces that conveniently fell into place to justify what followed afterwards.

      They were too quick to scoop up all the evidence and destroy it, without real investigation. For God's sakes, three steel-framed buildings did what no steel-framed buildings have EVER done -- they collapsed due to fire. No one wanted to know why? If there's some previously undiscovered flaw in their design and construction, some hidden weakness to fire, or certain types of fire, wouldn't we want to know that so it doesn't happen again?

      Or, was something else going on? I don't know, I'm just sayin'.

    2. Of course, no-one had ever lit off 1000's of gallons of Jet-A around the core of a building, after some of the fire-retardant coating had been jarred loose, either. And there was no way to do simulations in the 60's for that scenario.
      I do have a dog in that fight: I lost many aquaintances and many of my friends lost dear friends. And I spent some time asking structural engineers (those who had actually designed and worked on skyscrapers) about this and the universal take-away was that it was reasonable for what happened to happen. No bombs, no demolition crews, just too much kerosene and not enough water burning for too long. Once the first of the floors went, the rest was inevitable.
      As for me, I was in the oncology office with my wife, waiting for her 2nd chemo. It was also my mother's 74th birthday. The next year, when we went out to celebrate her 75th, people were completely fried that we would celebrate a birthday on the Anniversary of our "Worst Tragedy EVAARRR!!!!!" My mother's reply was unprintable, even on the Warrant's Facebook. (It started, "Stupid, cowardly idiots" and went downhill from there. And this from a woman who swore so rarely that we were tempted to put it in the calendar.)

  22. Secret courts. In AMERICA. Courts where the accused is denied the basic Constitutional right to confront their accuser or know the evidence against them. Secret. Courts. In. America.

    That's all I have to say besides thank you, Chief, for once again expressing it perfectly.

  23. I recently visited the museum at the World Trade Center and had a guided tour. I was very afraid that it would be maudlin or morbid, but it was neither, for me at least. That is, it was not until the tour ended and we were told we could go into some side exhibits, including one of a minute by minute video and audio of events that day, with displays of various artifacts. By that time, the museum was getting crowded and that exhibit has way less space to maneuver than it should. I was about a third of the way through it and decided to skip the rest. I could not watch anymore. I had seen it all 13 years ago and didn't need to see more.

    The most meaningful part of the museum, for me, was an art installation called "Trying to remember the color of the sky" which is huge, about 40 feet tall and more than 100 feet wide. It consists of pieces of paper in every possible shade of blue because the sky that day was extremely blue. There is a blue for each of the people who died, including the 6 who died in the attack in 1993. I spent about a half hour staring at it and was close to tears.

    Will this museum and memorial help put this event behind us while keeping us in mind of it? I don't know. I did think it was meaningful; not just another scratching at the scab. But most of yesterday's the posturing by politicians and news anchors and Facebook posts? Yes, that was scratching at the scabs.

  24. Jim, I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this column. It has brilliantly outlined my own feelings. You have given me the courage to step away from the wall and move forward, even if everyone tries to grab my shirt tail and pull me back. Thank you!

  25. I have no t.v., and so was not inundated at the time with the horrific images and sounds. I did watch moments of it on a neighbor's t.v., but it was too stressful. I watched the two French brothers' film and wept through it all, and decided to leave it at that. I can still hear it, and see it; despite my minimal intake.
    This year, my husband was in NYC on 9/11. His boss made respectful comments at the beginning of the work day, but otherwise, my husband did not seem to feel any huge, city-wide clinging to sorrow from the areas of the City he inhabits, which is Manhattan. Nor did I feel any undue anxiety over his being there. Thus, I might note here that perhaps we as a nation really are letting it settle down to the level of annual Veteran's Day or Memorial Day type remembrances. Or maybe my distance from the incessant media world makes me naive?
    Thanks for the helpful words, Mr. Wright. I enjoy your take on things.

  26. Thank you Jim. The concept of consequences and privacy has been lost to so many Americans since 9/11 due to the never ending, pounding message of "kill em all, let god sort em out" and the belief that TSA, up-gunning police and domestic spying is for our own good. So many people, disappointed with their own lives want to live out Jack Bauer fantasies until Stand your Ground, border militias and just fucking idiots shooting people for nothing is now the norm. What the Fuck?

    Trumped up threats and the stress of high OPS tempo since 9/11 has diluted the goal of "excellence" in Gov't and military service through "good enough" to "fuck it, who cares?" Consequences don't matter anymore. In OPS centers I have watched big screen video of our acft chasing down running men and shredding them one by one, all to the cheers of people scared to get dirt under their nails, let alone volunteer to go into battle. Who are these people we were killing? Bad guys. Case closed. They fucking deserved it cause if they weren't terrorists, then they could be. (Sort of like shooting running VC vs disciplined VC.) We are seeing the consequences now with the continued growth of AQ in Yemen, Al Shabab and ISIS in spite of dumping tons of weapons on them.

    The absolute depravity of Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush/etc destroyed all precedent and logic in diplomacy and war planning for the pursuit of profit and power, at the expense of US and foreign lives and treasure. For 13 years the gravity, legacy and awesome responsibility of being elected to represent the people has been steadily turned upside down until the GOP doesn't even hide bald faced attempts to deny the "wrong" Americans the right to vote; GOP reps stand up and claim proven science comes straight from the "depths of hell"; and billionaires openly buy reps, judges and legislation in their graven desire for dominion and ownership of everything. Fuck regular Americans. As long as the Fox Noise message is wrapped in Old Glory and carrying a bible, a large percentage of consumers say "God damn RIGHT!" and go back to watching Dick Dynasty or Alligator Fuckers or whatever.

    To a large extent these behaviors existed pre-9/11, and waxed and waned with US and global situations. 19th/20th Century robber barons owned the gov't as much as they strive to now. But the growth (and threat) of Socialism, Labor Unions and worker activism forced societal change (for awhile). Two world wars enabled the USA to become the first Super Power, and the Military Industrial Complex to seize control over much of the federal budget and influence policy to increase profit in a state of perpetual Cold or Hot War. But now there is no subterfuge or sugar coating. Everything is open combat to a GOP that HATES a Black POTUS. "Christian" values and superstition actively drive federal and state legislation to force Americans to hew to an earlier, more proper time - say pre Civil War. And money is free speech. The more you have the louder your message and purchase power in the halls of Congress.

    9/11 did not do this to our country. We did, or allowed it to happen by subverting thoughtfulness and logical process to receive-only jingoism and reactionary violence to everything that came before. I don't know what caused the mass numbing of the national mind. But, force fed fear, austerity and personal financial hardship (at the hands of the Bush admin) can go a long way toward prioritizing response or avoidance to current events. Maybe we'll climb out of this hole, but a lot of vested interests who profited from 9/11 are still digging hard. Good luck, Tommy-D

  27. I thought about it a bit in the morning, when writing the date. By the end of the day, I was wondering why the flags were at half-mast.

  28. Well said, Jim..... And, "Amen!" - Bill Slover

  29. You were right 3 years ago and you're still right. But 9/11 is not the only thing we can't seem to let go of. Last year it was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, In three years we can look forward to the 50th anniversary of the assassinations of MLK and RFK. I remember all of those events like they happened yesterday, but most people I know weren't alive then and honestly don't care. I don't blame them. We shouldn't ever forget the past, but we need to let it fade away and stop bringing it up over and over.

    I for one would be seriously delighted to never hear another word about any WWII anniversaries (especially Pearl Harbor). We're like little children that keep peeling the scab off that scrape on our knee. What good are we doing by going over these things again and again? Definitely time to move on...

  30. I'm enormously conflicted when it comes to 9/11. I was there, under the towers as the second plane came in. We were one of the last trains to get out before they came down. And then i went back down as a volunteer for over 8 months. I do go to some of the ceremonies- I won't lie- they are intense and emotional and painful. I am part of a community of first responders, victims, survivors, volunteers and family members. I never watch the news clips- they are in my mind now as they were that day. I don't go see the movies, I try to spend the day doing something good for someone, counting my blessings, often talking to others as we try to comfort each other. A lot of us are ill and need help.

    But what you said in 2013 is still as true now as it was then. Everything we should have or could have learned from 9/11 and the aftermath when the world seemed to come together around us, is gone. We expended so much blood and treasure on hate that we forgot the lessons I learned on 9/11- that good people will come together do what they must. I can't begin to tell you what a remarkable experience the clean up was- because of the people.

    And this is what gets me the most- all those people who lost their lives on 9/11, is this the country they envisioned? I read so many of their bios- the kind of people they were, the things they did for others, the family stories- A lot of us believe that the best way to remember them is by doing good in their memory. The wars, the hate, the divisions- all of that is what makes us forget. I really don't like the term Never Forget. Say Remember Me- create a true legacy by making this a better world. Thank you for writing what you did. I hope we take it to heart.

  31. Jim, I have a word for the patr(id)iots who go on and on about 9/11 and don't give a fart about what's really wrong with the country. These shitty citizens are SHITIZENS. They consistently vote against their own economic interests and like to bloviate about the U.S. being founded on so-called Christian Values. They masturbate to #AllLivesMatter memes. They really think Planned Parenthood is getting rich by charging 20 bucks for crunchy baby parts.

    Never Fetishize™



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