September 11th, 2001: Never Forget – And Never Forgive

World Trade Center

Ah, the beauty and tall majesty of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  While it’s true they didn’t have the shapely appearance of, say, the Empire State Building, the fact that they were twin towers and, at 110 floors each, some of the tallest buildings in the world, made them impressive nonetheless.

So here we are now at the thirteenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  I suppose it’s one of those events that come along every once in awhile in our lives where we all remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news.  It was one of my days off from work, and being accustomed to working from 3 in the afternoon until 11 at night, I had, as usual, slept late into the morning.  It must have been about 11 o’clock when my wife rang me up and said, “It’s been a hell of a day, hasn’t it?”  I immediately ran to the TV and turned on CNN.

9:11_UA_Flight_175_hits_WTC_south_tower_9-11_edit

Within minutes, I knew what she meant.  In the days that followed, I heard President George W. Bush say that we were going to find who was responsible and bring them to justice.  I also knew in that moment that his remarks weren’t strong enough.  You don’t send the military to bring people to justice; you send the police.  Moreover, you don’t bring people like this to justice, if you can even call them people.  You send military force to hunt them down and kill them.  Bush could and should have plainly stated that in his remarks.

These days, we see the usual images of 9/11 – that is, when we see them at all anymore, and it just doesn’t affect us like it did when we first heard the news that day.  For a reminder, it might be good to watch some high quality amateur footage that was taken that day near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan just to get a sense of the horror and fear that was pervasive.  At first, it was thought to be an accidental crash into the building.  Then, while the tape was running, the second plane hit.

We all saw the footage played over and over again on the news, ad nauseam.  How many of us have heard what it sounded like, though?  That plane was flat moving at high speed, because there’s only a second or two of the sound of the plane coming before it hits the building with the sickening sound of lives lost.  No one knew if there was going to be another plane, and if there was, which building it would hit.  Or for that matter, just what would happen next.  Be forewarned though, the language is rough in this footage.  I’m sure you’ll understand.

Just to get a feel for the day, why not have a look at people hanging out of windows; some of them over 1,000 feet above ground level:

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Many of them finally had no choice but to jump or let go.  Was it preferable to dying in the raging fires in the building?  I can’t say, because I’ve never been forced into that choice.  But what about people that were still alive inside the buildings above where the planes hit.  They ultimately had to face a horrible falling, crushing death as the buildings collapsed:

9:11-collapsing-tower_40003_600x450It was perhaps better for those on the ground.  Or maybe not.  At this point, they didn’t know what was coming next – or when:

9:11-running-bridge_39996_600x450And who can forget the news footage of Palestinians dancing, laughing, and ululating in East Jerusalem and the West Bank upon hearing of the attacks on America?

When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7th, 1941, there were approximately 2,403 killed.  President Roosevelt asked Congress the next day to declare war on Japan, saying we would gain the inevitable victory.  In the attacks on September 11th, 2001, there were roughly 3,000 people killed, and of those, only 55 were military personnel at the Pentagon.  Where is the inevitable victory?  Thirteen years on, where the hell is it?  Have we sunk so low?

I’m reminded of General George S. Patton’s speech to the Third Army in May or June of 1944, when he said, “When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt from your face and you realize that it’s not dirt, but the blood and guts of what was once your best friend… you’ll know what to do.”

Most of us already know what to do, but sadly, most of us aren’t in a position to do anything about it except in elections.  Speaking of that, we’re having one in November.  Enough said.

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