Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2001: Then and Now

I was sitting in my office, chatting and starting to get work done when a guy came in from the floor, poked his head in and told me, Tammy, Larry, Ron and Tina that someone had flown a plane into one of the 2 Twin Towers.

Our response was one of general disbelief of course since not in a million years did we ever conceive of such an idea. Jesus Christ were we wrong.

It was cemented when my mom called approximately 5 to 10 minutes later to tell me the same thing. We weren't allowed to have a radio on during work hours so none of us were getting the news, which she was aware of.

After my mom called to tell me of the 2nd plane, I said to hell with the rules and streamed (or tried to anyway) CNN. I think I ended up with some off the wall radio station because everything was clogged: the internet, cell phones, landlines, etc. Everyone all around the world was calling someone to tell them about what was happening: America was being attacked. Again.

Then we heard of the plane going down at the Pentagon and a little while after that, the 4th plane that was taken over by its passengers once they had realized what was happening. That 4th plane crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania because the passengers were not going to let happen again what had already occurred with 3 other planes. Of course, no one knew this at the time and it took a few hours to justify its connection to the other 3 planes.

After that day, someone brought a tv into the lunchroom at work where it stayed on 9/11 coverage 24/7. Flags went up everywhere, littering overpasses on highways, strung up on mailboxes; they had become ubiquitous when just 1 day prior you would have been hard pressed to find an American flag flown anywhere other than government buildings and McDonald's.

I remember feeling despair. How could I not when it was thrown into my face how invincible the United States wasn't? I am being completely honest when I admit something inside me knew it was going to happen sooner rather than later because the United States had been getting too egoist and, quite simply, too big for its britches. Someone was bound to send us a big fuck you eventually.

Reports came in of people jumping from the 83rd floor to their death. Sometimes they jumped from the roof, over 100 stories high. A co-worker came into the room and asked me if I thought it was a sin for someone to kill themselves in that type of situation. I told him that, in fires, people die of smoke inhalation, not the flames and that by jumping out of windows to their death, people were choosing how they wanted to die instead of being at the mercy of a dozen hijackers. I asked him if he wouldn't want to die his way instead of someone else's who felt their divine plan was more important. He agreed.

Then the towers collapsed. Knowing people had still been inside, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. I felt sick knowing several hundred fire fighters, police officers, civilians, etc., had run into the chaos trying to help anyone they could and had inevitably been too far up to get out alive. I immediately became nauseated whenever I thought of the extreme fear the passengers must have experienced as they watched their plane fly into the buildings, knowing it would explode upon impact.

All work stopped that day but ears and hearts opened to a new understanding and a new kind of pain.

I wanted to leave work right then to pick up Peanut, who had just turned 2, and wrap him in my love. I didn't want to let him out of my sight. It was all I could do to stay at work and attempt at concentration. I gave up and just listened to the radio.

About 1 month after 9/11, we took a trip to Northern Virginia, very near the Pentagon. All along the way the number of flags draped along the interstate grew until we got within 5 miles of the Pentagon and there was empty space - flags had been hung everywhere.

Now we're back to bullying the same countries that tried to destroy us. The Taliban and Afghanistan are forgotten. Our administration started a new war that has destroyed the stability in that country and is one we can't finish.

We're back to being complacent assholes, thinking no one can hurt us. We still have the highest crime rate of any country and Halliburton still has not been held responsible for stealing millions of dollars from the US that was earmarked for reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We are still holding "prisoners" at Guantanamo Bay without due process or any definite charges. Not long ago it was found that the CIA had a secret prison.

For a first world country, we have the highest poverty rate.

Sure the United States is a better country than most to live in, but that doesn't mean I have to like what it's doing to everyone else, including its own citizens.

(This website has a bunch of pictures from 9/11. I didn't include any in this post because I wanted it to be your choice to view the photo's, not mine, since everyone can handle a different amount of re-traumatization.)