Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Later...

I was at my parents' house in California, in the shower.

I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch in Morro Bay, down at a restaurant called the Flying Dutchman.

Mom knocked on the bathroom door, then popped her head in to tell me the news.

Somebody's crashing airplanes into the World Trade Center.

I think they just said somebody hit the Pentagon, too.

Mom shut the door. I hopped out of the shower, dressed without even bothering to dry myself. In the living room, my sister, father, and mother were all standing around the television. It was just after 7 a.m., Pacific.

I sat down on the couch just as the South Tower collapsed....

* * * *

I don't know why, but for some reason, watching live via satellite as hundreds died reminded me of something my grandfather had told me a long time ago.

I remembered being an eight-year-old, watching the news with Grandpa, watching the coverage of hijacked Pan Am Flight 73.

Grandpa, who'd spent two decades in the State Department, who spent most of that time stationed in places like Pakistan and Egypt, never let me watch cartoons without first agreeing to watch the Nightly News with him.

On that particular night, we watched the footage of a plane being retaken and heard accounts of how several hostages had died.

I remember being terrified not so much by that day's events - after all, those Flight 73 passengers were no more real to me than any other foreign event on the television screen - as by my grandfather's reaction.

One day, someone's going to bring that here, Grandpa said, the words cut into my memory like initials in a birch tree.

And it will happen in your lifetime.

* * * *

And, of course, someone did.

I never bought the whole "nobody saw this coming" excuse. The writing's been on the wall for decades. It was only a matter of time before the U.S. had a major terrorist incident on American soil.

Simply by being the World's last remaining Super Power, the United States has become the world's last remaining bull's-eye, a ready target for any homicidal maniac with a God Complex.

I feel no safer Sept. 11, 2006, than I did Sept. 11, 2001.

Why should I feel safe? Because some government agency banned sharp objects on planes? Or because a few al-Qaeda leaders have turned up dead?

The purpose of terrorism - of all terrorist acts - is to create an atmosphere of fear, to use symbolic, pinpoint assaults to affect a larger social structure without resorting to full-scale war.

There are still Americans who refuse to fly the not-so-friendly skies. One cannot ignore the periodic squabbling in Washington over the course of some "War on Terror," a war that lacks real definition or foreseeable end, where things like secret prisons, torture, and hidden courts have become as American as apple pie.

Who's really winning this "War on Terror?"

Every time Osama bin Laden so much as burps on camera, someone in the White House starts writing a "we're winning, seriously" speech. Some politico flies to Iraq to rally troops to some undefined "cause." And a thousand and one pundits will slice and dice every aspect of American security down to a few terrifying statistics on a thousand and one news stations.

There's this group of guys, hiding in some cave in Central Asia, who have the ability to panic the world's wealthiest nation simply by having someone drop a tape off at al-Jazeera.


Safety is as relevant in a Post-9/11 World as the next pile of smoldering skyscraper.


sassinak said...

thank you

i'm getting really tired of people with their heads in the sand who 'can't understand' how this could happen in their country.

i was not shocked by the events of that day and i remain not shocked. was i sad and stunned and generally walkinga round in a daze all day?

oh my god yes.

but surprised? no, not at all.

we reap what we sow after all and i live in a country where you can play cnn but not al-jazeera... so in canada they've decided that cnn's bias is fine but that the voice of the arabic nations isn't something my tender little ears are allowed to see.

why oh why is everyone so fixated on this idea of their side being right? in any long running dispute both sides are equally at fault, why don't we believe it?

oh god politics is so frustrating it's enough to get one leaping off a tall building...

Anomie-Atlanta said...

Brave statements, I commend you.

EsotericWombat said...

Indeed. And if the attacks were intended as a blow against freedom as Bush was so quick to say, who's winning?

LibraryTavern Liz said...

When I first heard about the Pentagon on 9/11 (on the radio ... I was at work), they said that a bomb had gone off there. Then they changed the story later. Maybe the original story was more accurate.

Miz BoheMia said...

Very well and eloquently put my friend... although we are not any safer than we are in danger, if that makes sense... before 9/11 I operated under the illusion of safety and after, danger? The only thing we can do, personally as far as our life journey is concerned and this is not to say politically because well, I tend to be a vocal one with such things, is to take it day by day, be here and now and breathe...

I make no sense dammit. I am tired... but as far as your critique and the bullshit political spin they give to things and in doing so debase it instead of honor it, I say you are right... dammit, I agree on it all and here is where I shut it and go to bed! Ay!


Angel, librarian and educator said...

Very well put. I was still in graduate school when it happened, about to leave for classes (my other graduate life, not the MLS). I don't know if you have read any of Osama's writings; there is this little new book with Al-Qaeda's statements (communiques). The guy had been saying exactly what he was going to do since the early 90s at least. Apparently, no one knew how to read or listen. I was certainly shocked, more like numbed, over the deaths, but not suprised. So, if a little librarian like me could have seen it coming, what was it about the morons in power (there I said it) who had claim to have had no clue? By the way, I am one of those who refuses to fly. Not out of fear a plane will be hijacked, but because it really has become the unfriendly, lousy service, bad attitude, pain-in-the-rear end airport odyssey. It does make you wonder who is winning indeed. Osama is hiding on some cave someplace, and we are the ones losing the liberties that supposedly the country is built on that the leaders claim to be protecting. Like Miz Bohemia, I better quit while I am ahead. Thanks for saying it. Best, and keep on blogging.

cooper said...

I was "locked down" in school a couple secondS worth of flight time from the Pentagon...just in case it was just a pelude to more madness.

We were not surprised, but I am no more fearful now than I was then.

I know the people in NY were tramuatized and some still suffer PTS from the event, as do some of the folks in the Pentagon.
However it is time we stopped with all this memory of them - even the kids of the victims can't get on with their lives.

I hate to say it but life goes on and we have to stop them from wasting our time by trying instill more fear.

The ZenFo Pro said...

It's such a prevelant mindset, in the Developed World, that the rest of the world lives only in National Geographic specials and their problems (i.e. homicidal religious nuts et. al) will never affect us. And that's the true tragedy, in the end.


Yeah, that's what I was thinking. How, exactly, does a bullshit color-coded alert system, dictated at the whim of any ol' Commander in Chief, promise freedom, exactly?

You know, what's funny is that, five years later, there is still room for speculation. This is bound to happen when a supposedly free and open government decides to play hide-and-seek with the facts to satisfy political agendas.

Nah, you're making perfect sense. The problem, and I think you have a point. Is it any different?

Hey thanks. Yeah, it does make one wonder...who's freedom has been taken away, exactly? I don't think al-Qaeda's worried about whether or not they will get strip searched for accidentally smuggling hair gel onto a plane...

Lol, you know, there are times, chica, I forget that you're younger than I am by 7 years...

You're right. If there's anything we should take away from 9/11, it's the dedication to building a better world, free of fear...not by playing this "bogeyman in the bushes" game...

KFigment said...

You were not safe in a pre 9-11 world you just felt that way. This is a battle that has been going on for better than 10 years. There is so much wrapped up in this that the only thing that did make Americans feel safe is the bull shit they watch on the news. With the tragedy of 9-11 it is a shame the only thing that really changed was that the american public lost the illusion that the US can not be attacked.

And shame on you. There are people that are over fighting the "war on terror" who can tell you what we are really fighting for. Why people are really over there and what it feels like to have a IED coming at you. YOu should know better than anyone else that you don't even see or understand half of what is going on but we as a public have created an opinion based on half truths and coverups. YOu want to get the real story ask someone who really knows.

you know you missed me

Smurf said...

Wow... I was in Minnesota on this day and when I woke up and went upstairs, I saw my kids with their kids on the back of the couch with two firetrucks, a jaws of life, an ambulance and a squad car racing past. T brought it to my attention it was the 5 year anniversary of 9-11. For you it wasn't super real, or the people weren't, but you know what J? For me they were. I was working at Cheap Tickets when that happened. It was only what 2 months since I went and visited you guys in CA on my way home from Mr Smurf's grandparents funeral. anyways... this lady called and she was crying and said she would have to cancel her flight and she said something about her husband being on one of the flights that crashed into the Twin towers. I remember I couldn't help but cry cuz, I may have been miles away, but I was on the front lines dealing with people calling and hearing the stories and having to change our everyday routines indefinitley to accomodate what had just happened. The flights were grounded and people were even trying to trade their flights for rental cars.

An interesting thing about this past Monday though, Mr Smurf said there was this long appreciation thing done for truckers talking about how they were heros then too, they drove people cross country helping them. What he read was pretty impressive and that company recognizing the truck driver, I thought was awesome, cuz they really were heros too.

Sheesh... sorry, I didnt realize I had so much to say. ;) *hugs* (I miss you, you should call me.)

Naomi said...

I have my memories, too, but I don't think I can articulate them as well as you.

I've been clicking through your post. I like your style. I'm adding you to my blogroll.

shayna said...

I think that "Where we were" on that day will forever be in our memories. Safe? I'm no so sure I know what safe is... I know that this entire world has no clue either...