Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2001 - 5 Years and Counting

September 11, 2001 attacks (12 сентября 2001)

Unfortunate timing for me to come back, after about a 6 or 7 week hiatus. But I couldn't let the 5 year anniversary of the September 11 attacks pass without at least a few words.

Just as with the JFK assassination, 9/11 will be remembered as a great tragedy in American history. "Where were you when the towers fell?" is already cliche. I remember those first moments quite clearly, the phone call at a little before 9 am from a friend, reporting that the news said an airplane flew into one of the World Trade Center buildings. I was sitting at this very same desk, and was reluctant to believe what was being reported in the next 30 minutes. Working at an engineering firm, there were pensive and quiet conversations among us - as events unfolded - speculating how long the towers would stand ... if they would stand.

5 years later it is easy to wonder if the US is really any better off. Certainly, the United States stature and reputation is tarnished as a result of our policies. I say "our policies" because, like it or not, this country voted George Bush into office not once, but twice (conspiracy theories regarding stolen elections aside). All of our anger, our bigotry, our ignorance of the world, and even our child-like belief in "America" as an ideal, are channeled through Bush and our US government leaders. They create policies, laws, speeches, and sound bites designed to catch our ears and echo our thoughts and sentiments. I disagree with most of these policies - probably many readers of this blog do as well - but let's not kid ourselves into believing that disagreement is representative of most Americans. Having traveled the world in my lifetime, everywhere from Hawaii to New York to Frankfurt to Moscow to Bishkek, I am left with the inescapable conclusion that we Americans are fanatics. Maybe we are the "good guy" fanatics - I certainly hope so and that history continues to prove this idea.

Rebuilding is underway on ground zero - it seems a bit morbid to my mind, but at least the footprints of the two towers will remain as a memorial to the events of that day. Recent opinion polls seem to center upon the concept of America being "safer" today than it was 5 years ago. I'm not even sure what this means. I never felt unsafe as a result of 9/11. I've never hesitated to get upon a plane or travel since that date. I grew up as an Army Brat in West Germany in the 1970s and '80s, where the daily prospect of terrorism was considered normal in a way that Americans can't begin to imagine. Widespread and small-scale terror is fortunately not the modus operandi of Al Qaeda.

To conclude this rambling post, I refer readers to the rather good Wikipedia article on the September 11, 2001 attacks. What information isn't contained directly on that page, is likely linked to somewhere in that article. I'll have more to write regarding where I have been a little later today.


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