Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 +10 years

We all remember that terrible day.  For me it started with a phone call from a friend urging me to turn on the news.  I stood there in disbelief on a beautiful September morning and watched NBC coverage.  When the first tower came down I felt the breath of life leave my soul for a moment.  That sounds silly and dramatic, but I knew as the cloud of the building exploded that lives were gone in that exact second.  

Needing to "do" something I called my parents (the late sleepers) to spread the word.  Then, I did what many of us did that day, I got on the bus and went to work.   I remember the drive into the city being extremely quiet, but it wasn't clear to me if anyone knew what had happened.  No one was talking about it, but the riders on my bus route weren't especially friendly with each other. 

At work that day, we watched news coverage all day and as the "security" team (information security, not physical) we made plans for what we would do if the attacks continued.  While I was on a "high floor" in our building we were not the tallest building in the city and there was no direct flight path towards us, so we were assured that even if Seattle was under attack that our little 30 story building would not be the target.  However, for the first time ever, all building occupants had to show ID to even get to the elevators and by the next day there were barriers that would prevent a car from driving into the lobby.  (Those protections were removed within a week.)

For weeks after the attacks, while people were singing that irritating Lee Greenwood song and driving around with huge American Flags billowing out of their gas guzzling 4x4 trucks I had dreams of the floor of the building where I worked disintegrating from under my feet. 

Later that year, or possibly the next year we hired a new senior manager who said something along the lines of "You west coast people couldn't possibly have felt the impact of the attacks the way we east coast people did."  I have rarely been that offended by a casual comment, but that sentiment still bothers me.  First of all, I'm aware that I didn't experience it the way people on the ground did, but someone in Boston or Virginia watched it on TV just as much as we did.    However, the likelihood of knowing someone who had died was far higher. 

Now, ten years later it is history.  My friend Dave, a middle school teacher, educated his students on the topic.  There are youngsters who don't know what happened and for them, I guess that's a nice thing not to know or understand.  (Although, can we really understand it?)  He said he got choked up talking about his experiences on that day, and I guess most of us have a personal memory.  In time it will be an event like Pearl Harbor, history.

Our government structure is just as disjointed and adversarial as it was before the attacks, we're still polarized on issues that on September 12th, didn't matter.  We're fighting a war on "terror".  I can't really think of anything less concrete to fight about - maybe fashion no no's.  There's no way to win....and given that fact, how do you stop 'fighting'?  Do we pack up our tanks and just go home, or declare "mission accomplished" right before election season and call it a day? 

Are we better off spending our billions and billions of war dollars on our weak economy?  Maybe saving half and then spending half to pay down our trillion dollar debt that a group of investors in China hold?  Someday, China will come asking for their money and our statement of "I would have paid you, but I needed to start a new war in BlahKickistan and Oilville."  isn't going to cut it.  I do find it interesting that we are so in debt to China and think of them as a (financial) ally but where are they in the war on terror?  Seems to me, that they are quietly sitting back and waiting for the "US super power" to spend itself into oblivion. 

It's a crazy complicated world and my opinions matter little.  I vote, I work with my family to have a savings, I felt optimistic enough about our world to bring a new person into existence.  I wish a happy future for her and hope to arm her with fiscal responsibility, critical thinking and enough love to overcome the sometimes dim and dark way that we humans treat each other.   Some day Lucy will learn about 9/11 and I'm sure it will feel as distant to her as the Pearl Harbor attack felt to me as a child.  Maybe that is a good thing. I wish peace for our world, comfort for the families of 9/11 and for the military families. I hope there is a peaceful afterlife and those 2,977 innocent people (and even the nineteen misguided men) were instantly freed from the pain and horrific manor of their deaths. 

I hope we learned something that day.

1 comment:

pnb_dave said...

Well done, TP.