Saturday, September 11, 2021

Twenty years later...


On September 11th, 2001, the world changed.

I woke up in my small rectory in Louisiana that morning, wandered through to the kitchen, clicked on the kettle to make a cup of tea, and switched on the TV - just in time to see the second aircraft strike the World Trade Center.

I watched, dumbfounded, for the rest of that morning as the world changed around me.  I'd come through eighteen years in a war zone, sometimes in uniform, sometimes not, experiencing the reality of terrorism all around me . . . but never of the magnitude that we saw that morning.  It left me with a sick feeling in my stomach that lasted for days.

I was initially proud of the reaction of our government, and its swift moves to take down the base from which the attack was launched.  That rapidly turned to resentment, concern, and ultimately anger as that same government, and successive administrations (on both sides of the political aisle), used 9/11 as an excuse to strip away our civil liberties and constitutional rights and turn the United States into a surveillance society.

Today, as we remember the events of twenty years ago, here are a few trenchant thoughts on the anniversary, in no particular order.

From The Smallest Minority:

Tomorrow will be the 20th anniversary of 9/11/2001. What’s changed? A country that was mostly united is now as divided as it was before the election of Abraham Lincoln.

Bin Laden considered the U.S. a “weak horse.” It was still tough enough to hunt him down and kill him, but that doesn’t mean his analysis wasn’t ultimately correct. Abraham Lincoln warned that no outside force could destroy the nation, the danger was from inside. He was right.

And now you understand why the oath taken by elected and appointed officials and members of the military is to uphold and defend the Constitution – not a person or position – against all enemies foreign or DOMESTIC.

Remember: The winners get to label who the domestic enemy was.

From Divemedic:

If someone had told you 20 years ago, as you watched the towers fall, that our military would flee from Afghanistan, leaving their weapons and Americans civilians behind, and there would be a Muslim woman on television, telling our nation’s teachers to teach children that the 9-11 attackers were not terrorists, and avoid promoting American exceptionalism, would you have believed it?

From Didact:

I remember vividly what I felt walking down the stairs of our house that Tuesday evening (we were watching the madness unfold at about 7pm our time, given our time zone), and thinking that I was watching some sort of strange new movie. Only when my father confirmed that we were watching CNN and the BBC, did I realise that it was absolutely real. Planes had flown straight into the World Trade Centre’s two towers, killing hundreds.

And I watched as thousands more died in fire and horror when the towers collapsed.

That was the end of innocence for many of us. I didn’t realise it at the time, but that was the day that I finally came to understand the reality that the world is, in fact, a very, very dangerous place.

Here we are, twenty years later. During that time, an entire generation was born and came to adulthood. The people born in 2001 are now older than I was, on that horrible day when the world stood still.

We need to ask ourselves if we ever learned anything in the intervening 20 years. The overwhelming preponderance of evidence tells us definitively, NO. We have not.

From OldAFSarge:

How many years of life experience were erased that day? How many years of potential were erased? We will never know. We can only mourn the dead. Not bring them back.

I wish I could forgive those who perpetrated these heinous acts twenty years ago. But it isn't in me, God forgive me, but I cannot forgive this, ever.

I remember, I mourn.

Woe to those who would let such a thing occur ever again. That too will not be forgotten, nor forgiven.

From Mr. B:

I remember that on this day, Sept 11th, 20 years ago today, people who hate the US because of our culture, because of who we are, because of our freedoms, because of our religions….on this day, 20 years ago, nineteen radical individuals, aided and abetted and financed and encouraged along their way by rich people in other countries like Saudi and Oman, executed a years-long plan to kill citizens of the United States and strike terror and fear in our hearts simply because of who we are, because our beliefs are different than theirs ..because they wish to remain primitive and live like their ancestors did in the 7th century….and we don’t……I remember many muslims in other countries dancing in the streets because some other Muslims had struck a blow against the “Great Satan”….celebrating the deaths of my countrymen simply because we were different than them….because we thought differently, had different religious beliefs, because we had different morals than them.

I remember, and still do, that those in our legislature who opposed the President fought him at every turn, and both his party and the opposition party used this tragedy, this attack, the deaths of my fellow citizens in the days and weeks following the attack to increase their power and reduce my and my fellow citizens freedoms in the name of Security. I remember the failures of our watchdogs, the Intelligence community, to protect our country from these individuals who did the attacks and those who supported them, even though the data was there….That they failed utterly to see the threat or do anything about it, and that 3000 or more people died because they simply weren’t bothering to look for threats.

. . .

I remember that we, as a country, forgot that we have people who wish us harm, and that, while we may not wish to fight, to maintain vigilance, people who choose to be our enemies have not forgotten, and see our peacefulness as weakness, not strength. That we must remain ever vigilant, ever watchful, ever ready. That while we may not wish for War, others do. That it takes 2 to make peace, but only one to cause conflict.

I have not forgotten, and I never will.

From Mr. Garabaldi, the immortal story of Rick Rescorla's heroism in saving all those entrusted to his care . . . only to die in the fall of the towers.  Go read it.  It's important.

I remember, a few days after the 9/11 attacks, seeing a music video by the group Live, featuring their song "Overcome" played over footage of Ground Zero after the fall of the Twin Towers.  It was purely secular, which (as a pastor) I found jarring:  after all, to commemorate those who died, surely some mention of life, death and eternity would have been appropriate?  But then I realized . . . America was already a post-Christian society to many of its citizens and residents.  Live's song was a secular anthem, and as such, it fitted the secular horror and outrage at the 9/11 attacks very well.  Those of us with faith would have our own anthems, and still do, but many of our fellow Americans were, indeed, "overcome" by the shock and horror of the event.

In honor of that, here's the music video.

And, for those of us who believe, here's the "Agnus Dei" of Samuel Barber.

May the souls of all the victims who died on 9/11/2001, in the mercy of God, rest in peace.

May we, who remember them, honor them by living in the freedom their killers wanted so desperately to overthrow.



MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter;

To me 9-11 is a solemn say like "Pearl Harbor" was to the WWII and Korea Generations, it was their defining moment. 9-11 was our defining moment for this generation and many have paid the price and to have our government choke and bomb out as bad as they did. Makes me wonder if anybody pays attention up there to the bog picture besides personal power and personal riches.

Chris Nelson said...

I remember 9/11.

I was in an all day session of pre-employment tests and interviews. We got pulled into a large training room to watch the television for an hour or so. As soon as the second plane hit, I knew what was happened and had a pretty good idea of whom did it.

Walking out of building at the end of the day, I noticed the quiet. Most people had already gone home, the rush-hour traffic was nonexistent and the skies above DFW were empty.

And my feeling at the end of the day wasn't shock, anger or sadness. It was the growing realization of doom for the future of the country. Call me Cassandra or a very good student of history, but the last two decades verified that feeling of great doom.

Now that doom has materialized and 9/11 has come full circle with f-ed up withdrawal from Afghanistan. I turned the television off this morning when I saw the three presidents most responsible for this nations troubles at the memorial service. So many lives lost, so much goodwill gone and nothing matters except money and power.

I'll do what I do every 9/11 and Memorial Day. Call up the fellow vets in the family and friends, say a few words, cry a few tears and offer a toast for the fallen.

And I'll never forget. And I will never forgive.

Marty said...

I’m Canadian. I was driving to Windsor, across the river from Detroit that morning. My wife called me to tell me what was happening, though I was already transfixed by the news on the radio. She was shaken, and terrified. She worried I might not make it home. I assured her I would, and referenced the shotgun in my trunk since the beginning of duck season.

After finishing my business I’m Windsor, I headed home. The border-bound highway was devoid of vehicles. Normally it was full of trucks heading to the border. That was what I remember most, the emptiness, both inside and around me.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

9/11 didn’t change the world, it made it briefly impossible for the Progressive establishment to convince the population that their delusions about terrorist were reality. They went along with the tide, briefly, and almost immediately went back to pretending that a passel of unwashed 12th century barbarians had the moral high ground.

My second reaction upon seeing the burning towers (my first was flippant) was, “I’ve been expecting this for twenty years.”

Paul, Dammit! said...

About 15 minutes ago, the ferry 'Father Mychal Judge' passed by my stern. We're moored for the day at Brooklyn Bridge Park, right across the water from the World Trade Center. I have a good view of the new building. It's pretty. There have been Ospreys and Blackhawks patrolling up and down the river right overhead, and the dozen or so CG boats all have a man at the Ma Deuce on the bow.

Father Judge, who everyone is pretty sure is Saint Mychal Judge, BTB, was the priest and fireman who ran into the burning towers and administered aid until he was killed.

There's only 1 guy left in my company who participated in the boatlift to evacuate Manhattan. Some of my former shipmates were featured on the documentary about the boatlift. They're all passed away or retired now. My son was born after the attacks. They're disconnected in the way I was when adults talked about where they were during the Kennedy assassination.
The terrorists got their victory, in the end. May it at least prove to be Pyrrhic.

My Take said...

On this day, twenty years ago, a vicious and determined enemy struck at the very heart of our country. I do not know nor do I understand the reasons for the attack against the WTC, the pentagon and most probably the capitol, if not for the bravery and selflessness of the passengers on flight 93. I know the religion of Mohammad demands it’s adherents to conquer and require all people to renounce any other religion and to worship Allah. But I also think the rulers of this nation have done things that have created unintended (?) consequences for us as citizens and others around the world. We will likely never know all of the reasons behind this event. But it is apparent that the intelligent services, and the people in power did not do all that they could have, to prevent it from happening. So, today, I grieve for the loss of so many lives that were taken from us. I offer up a prayer, to the only wise God, for the families that lost loved ones, and to those who survived, but were forever scarred in ways most of us will never understand. This heinous, evil act, will never be forgotten. And although God has said vengeance is mine, may He find us worthy, to serve as His emissaries in this cause.

JG said...

In 2001 when the WTC/Pentagon attack at the time me and my family was living in Northern Virginia. I was at home that morning waiting for a new refrigerator to be delivered and my old one to be taken when I saw the first plane hit. I then shortly after saw the second plan hit the WTC.

Then I heard on the TV about the plane hitting the Pentagon and DC shutting down. I lived in Leesburg, VA but my wife worked in Sterling, VA. My boys came home from school early and so did my wife.

I did get the refrigerator brought in and the old one taken out as the install guys did not know what was happening. Things were on alert all around DC metro area for the next month.

Beans said...

I also recommend Blue Man Group's "Exhibit 13."

It's a rather pretty piece of acoustic music, poignant, sad, introspective.

And the voices in the background? Reading lines from papers that fell around BMG's theater that day.

Old NFO said...

Never forget, never forgive…

Capt Larry Getzfred, Capt Jack Punches (ret), AW1 Joe Pycior. Navy Watch Center, 9/11/01.

James said...

Nothing changed that day, some people momentarily looked up from their stupor and then fell back into it. Leftist idiots learned nothing, government went on using any excuse to aggregate power through the manipulation of fear. The leaders of the country blundered into the Middle East and 20 years later blundered their way back out at immense cost. The only benefit was to the MI complex who made a lot of money out of it.
Here we are 20 years later and what is the evidence that any of the citizenry learned anything. What do we have to show for all of the lost blood and treasure ? If Covid19 has taught us anything it is that nobody ever learns, at least not enough of the populous does to change anything.

boron said...

The problem (as I see it), as civilized Westerners, people who follow the precepts of Judeo-Christian teachings, is that we do not/cannot kill/murder innocent Muslim people, so we limit ourselves to hunting down and imprisoning murderers (Israel is a prime example).
The Muslims, almost all of them, think we're crazy; for once, I have to agree with them!

Unknown said...

I watched the towers fall. I remember the day as we kept our kindergarten- and pre-school-age kids home, and that night as we watched over them in church. I’d been to the Towers on both business and pleasure. I’ve been since to Ground Zero and the museum.

My take on today is not that of others’.

Is the memorial outside Arlington of our defeat at Pearl Harbor… or of our victory on Iwo? Are our war memorials of defeat…or of victory?

Do we as a nation stop and mourn and speechify and weep and televise our loss at Pearl Harbor each year? Or did we annihilate those who attacked us, and then rebuild the world?

Cry for the dead - yes. But only after wreaking vengeance on their killers. There always will be time for the dead; their killers must be dealt with to save the living - in body and in spirit. It is the living whose spirits we must concern ourselves with. THEN we can mourn our dead.

Great Powers don’t celebrate defeat, certainly not for decades as a national almost-holiday. The hole at Ground Zero is a huge gaping cry not for or of victory, but of angst, depression, sadness, of defeat and loss unredeemed by victory. No offset to give hope or strength or even value to that loss. Walking through the museum is one long, sad, dark, doleful and unrelieved immersion in defeat.

That we still demand a day of mourning, without an accompanying celebration of victory shows only the depths we have plumbed as a therapeutic society - not as a healthy, vigorous, strong society looking to our future, but a weakening, traumatized society that cannot get over its past.

We were defeated that day in a heinous surprise attack. And we refused, for the first time in our history, to destroy those who attacked us. Not because we lacked the capability; because we lacked the will. Our recent humiliation in Afghanistan only magnifies that lack.

We refuse a victory that must be ours if we are to truly memorialize our dead. And until that victory is achieved, we have not memorialized them, we have not cauterized the wound. We have not risen to the greatness we have always, until now, shown the world.

This is our problem. We have lost our will to be great. From the looks from “both” sides of the aisle, it is not coming back.

Sadly, this, above all else, is the “lesson” of 9/11.

Sam said...

Sam said...

Lest We Forget, A List of People Killed From 9/11 Attack

Andrew Smith said...

Over here in Australia, I was staying overnight with an American buddy of mine who had come out for only 6 months back in 1988, but there was this Aussie chick he met and they got married.

So about 1 am the phone at his place starts ringing. It's his relatives phoning urgently from overseas and saying to turn on the TV and that "America is under attack".

So we all stagger out in to the living room and the TV is on and I can see a building on fire. It's a decent fire involving a few stories aflame, but that's about it. I then convey that I didn't really see what the big deal was.

"Oh, you mean there is supposed to be a second building?"

plocb said...

And never forget the other victims: over 350,000 Afghani and Iraqi civilians, killed in a war they never had any part in by the demented flailing of a military-industrial complex desperate for a purpose and an American populace desperate to give their pain away, fueled by lies and propaganda of warmongering idiots. Pity none of those responsible will ever get the justice (or the one-way ticket to Baghdad) they deserve.