September 11, 2001-September 11, 2011

Musing on September 11, 2001

I wasn’t in New York on September 11, 2001/01, but the aftereffects of this catastrophic chapter of history is a part of us all.

On Friday, September 7, 2001, I had my fourth chemotherapy treatment. I spent weekends—Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays—resting in bed all day, recovering from the poison in my system that eventually cured me. That’s what I was doing the morning of September 11, 2001.

World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

My story will be different than others, especially the millions of New Yorkers who watched the horror first-hand in Manhattan. For me, it was a harbinger of events that would characterize events of the 21st Century. I am embarrassed to write about what I did on September 11, 2001. My experience was so banal in comparison to so many who lost loved ones and the terrified citizens staring at what they believed were immutable skyscrapers.

Like most people in America and across the world, I was totally unprepared for the horror that emerged in a few short hours. I had no idea that while I was resting, a hijacked plane crashed into the north tower World Trade Center at 5:45—a.m followed by a second plane hurtling into the south tower at 6:03 a.m.

On September 11, 2001, woke up around 9:00 a.m. to a bright, sunny, beautiful day in Los Angeles.

I walked in the living room as usual. The television was on. This day was not usual, of course. Like many Americans—and people across the world— who saw the attack on September 11, 2001, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. Was it a horror movie? A documentary on special effects? Did Godzilla attack New York? Was National Geographic presenting a special on what would happen in the event of an attack in Manhattan?

No.

My husband came down the stairs as I sat on the couch astounded by televised images. I could not grasp the reality of what was being broadcast. I ran my hand over my bald head and looked up at my husband, asking, “What the hell is going on?”

Statue of Liberty tears for September 11, 2001

He told me.

I sat immobilized on the couch on September 11, 2001, thinking, “I may have cancer, but all these people did was go to work.” I was prepared for the possibility of death. How many people went about their routines that day unaware that a few hours later they’d be dead in the most vicious attack on American soil?

There we sat, watching the day’s events unfold. Meanwhile, somewhere in Florida, our president was reading “My Pet Goat.”

The uncharacteristic gravitas expressed by President on September 11, 2001 bothered me. There was GWB II, attempting to give a September 11, 2001 State of the Union Address. He seemed… bewildered.

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.

The victims were in airplanes or in their offices—secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers. Moms and dads. Friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.
The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.

Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business as well.

So that was it—our financial institutions remain strong. In a time where thousands of Americans were killed, there was Dubya reassuring us not to worry about our money. On September 11, 2001, most countries demonstrated good will towards the disaster that befell our nation.

I’m still not sure whether Bush, like the rest of us, simply didn’t know how to act. Not until I ran across a clip of him preparing for the September 11, 2001 State of the Nation Address a few days ago.

Only a year-and-a-half later, Bush let the world know we were going to “smoke ‘em out.” Instead of using the September 11, 2001 catastrophe to bridge good will among nations, he alienated the world as he pumped his fist in the air and said he “felt good” about the war. It didn’t matter that administration didn’t verify the alleged WMDs in Iraq.

We now know the U.S. retaliation had nothing to do with starting a war. A few remembered that America supported Hussein’s regime in 1984. We allowed this despot and his sons to terrorize and brutally murder Iraqi citizens while we turned a blind eye. We knew he had weapons, maybe not WMDs. But, yes, we knew he had weapons. We gave them to him.

I guess we had to smoke ‘em out to save face.

And looking back on September 11, 2001 now, with over 4,000 U.S. troops dead, millions of innocent citizens in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I feel grief. America had an opportunity to join with the rest of the world and create peace out of the terror and death that befell our country.

There was a period in history when Jews, Christians, and Muslims coexisted peacefully. Now, a rabid group of bigots protest the idea of a mosque at Ground Zero. Others of us feel a cross at the site is egregious. There was an alternative: create an interfaith center that does not exclude any religious, spiritual, or secular person. To this day, it seems untenable that America could not erect a memorial to world peace.

Interfaith memorial at Ground Zero to commemorate September 11, 2001

The tragedy that arose from September 11, 2001 bred distrust and unnecessary deaths. Many people live in bigotry against all Moslems, not realizing that it only takes a few fanatics to enact widespread destruction. Americans should have learned something, but many didn’t

I hope all New Yorkers who saw the burning towers collapse over a decade ago know legions of people around the world remember the decade-old tragedy and mourn with them. Today, my family and I will celebrate by taking care of a friend’s cats. That will not change the chill up my spine when I think back on September 11, 2001.

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Copyright 2011 MadMikesAmerica
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One Response to September 11, 2001-September 11, 2011

  1. Collin Hinds

    September 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    We missed a huge opportunity in the wake of 9/11. We took all the goodwill that came our direction and kind of just pissed it away in favor of “you’re with us, or against us,” diplomacy. Cowboys make bad leaders.