It has been 5479 days since September 11, 2001. Our individual memories are clearly etched with the horrific events of that day. I have been reading an interesting account published by Politico of what occurred on Air Force One and the measures taken to protect President Bush as he was trying to make his way back to Washington, D. C. and as our government was responding to the attacks. Reading the first hand, never before written account, brings back that horrendous day. A link to the article is attached at the end of the post.
While it seems that it was just yesterday, much has happened in our world. We unfortunately have endured other disasters both natural and man-made. Some a combination of man and nature.
Although, Hurricane Katrina was in itself the third strongest storm to ever hit the mainland of the United States much of the flooding and devastation occurred when the levees failed and flooded large areas of New Orleans. With virtually no warning, the tsunamis in Phuket and Japan caused mass destruction and loss of life. Global warming has reduced our ice caps dramatically and ….
Man has continued to wreak havoc on each other. Wars in the Middle East and Syria drag on. Military conflict hot spots include Central African Republic, the Congo, Egypt, Libya and the Sudan. In Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Thailand. Europe is not exempt as Chechnyans, Ukraines, and Armenians are experiencing upheavals.
The Patriot Act, hastily passed after 9/11, severely restricted, if not violated many of our constitutional liberties. Post 9/11 Big Brother was legitimized by the Patriot Act and ushered in an era much like the “Red baiting” McCarthyism of the 1950’s. While the average Joe American had his phones tapped and wanderings tracked, had his shampoo and nail files thrown in the airport trash, no one watched Wall Street vastly under-secure home mortgages and cause an economic collapse so great that our financial system nearly failed, retirement savings were cut in half, unemployment went to double digits, and people were left both homeless and penniless.
Saddest of our bad times, in my opinion, has been the mass shootings. Mentally crazed gun men have cowardly clad themselves in bullet proof clothing and armed themselves with assault weapons invading workplaces, colleges and elementary schools killing anyone in their path. Some of the tragedies are etched just as 9/11 in our psyche. No one should forget Sandy Hook. As they should not forget that Congress has done nothing about controlling the weapons or strengthening the background checks it takes to get these weapons. Shame on them.
Let’s not forget that good has happened too. We elected a man of African-American descent as our President, not just once but twice. The Democratic Party has nominated a woman for President. Gays can marry the person they love. Marijuana is legal in many states.
Great strides have been made in technology putting a smart phone in our hand or on our wrist. Facebook keeps us connected with old friends. We get our news 24/7 from all kinds of sources. Oh, and the Red Sox won a World Series.
A new building , the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, stands in New York city on that place and in the memory of those victims who died on or as a result of 9/11.
So we have moved on. We were shocked and changed by that day’s events. Initially, we were scared, saddened and enraged. Most of us were stumped as to why this would/could happen to us. We realized for the first time we were vulnerable and that is a tough lesson to learn.
But, we have to learn to live in that vulnerability, protect but not be overprotective . We have to stand tall again, much like One World Trade Center. It does not cower and neither should we.