Friday, September 11, 2009

A lesson in being unpopular

Today is September 11, 2009. It marks the 8th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks involving 4 commercial airliners against the United States of America. For the majority of Americans, and maybe even the world, it's the day that has defined and shaped much of the 21st Century.

I say majority of Americans, but not all. Because it wasn't that kind of day for me.

Before I start on this let me say this: I love my country. I consider myself to be an upstanding citizen, and I think we here in the U.S. have figured out a pretty good system of government. I am in no-way "anti-American" and believe in the Constitution of the United States. I believe the society that has arisen from this document is special and unique and worth preserving.

9/11 simply doesn't have the impact for me that has for most people. On 9/11 I remember logging into my AOL account and seeing a news report that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and assumed it was some knucklehead from Yonkers in his twin-engine Cessna who couldn't figure out how to steer his plane. Just before leaving for work I decided to check out the news, and for the next two hours I watched the second tower get hit, heard the reports of the Pentagon being hit, and saw the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. And then I called my mom, who was at Johns Hopkins in the final days of her battle with Pancreatic cancer, a battle we knew she was rapidly losing, a battle she would ultimately lose 10 days later.

A lot of things happened over the next few days, but the circumstances of that time will always be overshadowed, for me, by the loss of my mom. We talked about 9/11 a couple of times, and she was worried about the world she was leaving us to look after. I told her I thought everything would be ok, we'd figure out who did this and where they were, and remove them from existence. I still hope I'm right about that. I truly did believe that at the time, that we would deal with this, figure out who did it and systematically remove then from the face of the earth. I think the saddest part of the whole thing is that eight years later we're still in Afghanistan chasing around the knuckleheads behind all this.

I understand why it affected so many people, why it was such an important event. Historical significance is not lost on me, it's the emotional attachment to the event that I guess is different for me than it is for a lot of people. I've never been a person to just accept what I was told and pretty much question everything. A complete cynic in many ways. And I've always felt the very best thing we can do to defeat the actions of 9/11 was to return to "life as normal", rebuild the buildings as they were, and go about our lives in a way that says "you can attack us, but you can't hurt us, you can't change us".

Was 9/11 a tragedy? Of course. Does it deserve a National holiday? Absolutely not. Memorials, Remembrances, of course, but not a National holiday. For me, it wasn't even the worst day of that week.

I realize this isn't my best blog post ever, so thanks for bearing with me.

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