When the terror attacks happened on September 11, 2001 it changed a lot of people. Like most Americans, I struggled to understand the events and why they happened. Blogging had become popular during the early 2000’s. Luckily I had put my thoughts in a bottle and threw it out into the internet ocean. I prepared for the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by re-reading my various blog posts. Here are some of the highlights.
On the 1st Anniversary I wrote this:
Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on American soil. This is one of those moments that will always stand out in our minds, the moment frozen in history forever. I’ve been resisting the urge to write about my feelings on 9-11 due to my part in the healing process. I felt like I needed to wait until the right moment to put everything down here. With the recent number of specials on Ch 7 (our local PBS affiliate) and other news channels, I’ve had a chance to reflect upon my thoughts and feelings. I now feel the need to share them here, some I have never shared with anyone before.
September 11, 2001 began like any other work day for me. I woke up to damn early in the morning, took my son to daycare and scuttled onto work. I was teaching a new group of techs in the classroom when one of my co-workers who had just walked into the building had informed me about the airliners hitting the World Trade Center. We had always been trying to play pranks on each other and for the first moment I thought she was making another attempt. I had an itch in the back of my mind that something was wrong so I poked my head back in the class and asked one of the students to pull up cnn.com. As she had walked away to open up her office I noticed that the news website had timed out. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and continued with the class. A few minutes later my supervisor had walked in to make a special announcement. It was then that I had realized that this was no joke, my co-worker had been telling the truth. The supervisor authorized anyone who needed to make any special calls to go ahead and do so. Two students immediately got up and left the class heading for the phone in the break room. Needless to say, we didn’t get much done in class that day. The reason the cnn website didn’t come up was due to high traffic. In fact we ended up having to pull up information from British news websites, which didn’t have the latest information. It was still early in the morning and rumors were only adding to the fear and tension. Our office building is near the Salt Lake International Airport. There were reports that airplanes had been ordered to land at the nearest possible airport but not all planes had been accounted for. The parents of my girlfriend worked at Hill Air Force Base, what was happening to them? I remember calling my Father because of the way I felt. We had talked for a while and I was in better spirits after conferring with him. I was also very happy to pick up my son from daycare that afternoon.
The days that followed brought more sadness. Our nation had been wounded. Sports and music on the radio had been discarded so that people could talk and say the things they needed to say. I remember the biggest thing I felt was that I was ashamed. I know that the United States is not a perfect country, however I wouldn’t give up living here for anything. Why did it take an act of cowards using religion as an excuse to slaughter thousands of innocent people to make me realize where I was living? To make me realize the sacrifice made by Law Enforcement, Medical Personnel and those serving in the Military for the safety and protection of my family. I vowed that I would never feel this way again. I’ve proudly displayed the American flag on my car or at my home. On the Fourth of July, the Star Trek club that I belong to put together a float for two city parades. As I walked down the parade route, it gave me the chance to see everyone come out and display their patriotism. I also made sure to shake the hand of a Layton Police Officer to thank him. I wanted someone to know that I appreciated what they were doing.
I remember reading an article stating the good that had come out of the Titanic disaster. The article went on to explain that it wasn’t a contradictory statement. The disaster had gone on to spur improved standards and practices for liner safety. I believe the same thing is happening here. Citizens of the United States and of other countries are starting to realize that there is more we can do if we work together. What can be done to prevent terrorism and that anyone can help. We can make a difference just by doing little things. I believe that we can reach the spirit of the 23rd and 24th centuries seen in Star Trek. It may take a long time to reach, but we are learning from our mistakes, dusting ourselves off and heading in the right direction.
So as I watch the specials and think back over the past year. I feel sadness for those who lost countless loved ones. I admire the bravery of the passengers who retook Flight 93 and prevented it from hitting its target. I am appreciative of those serving to protect my family. And finally I still feel some confusion. What the hell were the terrorists thinking? Did they not expect the United States and all freedom loving people of the world to not react in the way we did? Did they believe that we would crawl under a rock bloodied and in pain and stay there? Did they believe we would just roll over and surrender? HELL NO!!! Just as the Japanese had awoken a sleeping giant with the attack on Pearl Harbor, a new giant is now awakened. A lot of terrorists will not survive its wake.
On the 2nd Anniversary I posted this:
I was wondering if I should post anything for the second anniversary of the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks. This day marks a major event in history, and it should be remembered for the right reasons. However I’m reminded of a quote by Joseph Sisko (Father of Captain Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine) in the episode “Paradise Lost” when it looked like the mysterious Dominion was going to invade Earth at any moment (and it turned out there was only three agents on the planet). Someone asked him if he was worried that the Dominion was out there and could strike at any moment, his response was “Worried? I’m scared to death. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them change the way I live my life.” In a way this is a very good quote for this day, and a very bad one at the same time. By living our lives, not giving in to fear and terror the cowards will not win. However part of returning to the way we lived our life before 9-11 includes the petty arguments that divided our nation. I was really proud of how this nation pulled together in the year that followed. However once the one year anniversary hit it seemed like everyone went back to their separate corners to pout. This terrorist thing isn’t going to go away in six months or a year. We don’t need to give up everything for security, but we still need to prepare and educate just as we would for a natural disaster. That will take a lot of work and a lot of understanding.
So now it is the 10th Anniversary. Zuke suggested that we post where we were at the time of the attacks. I think this is a good idea because we still cannot forget what happened on that day. I did have other blog posts on my private site and later on Livejournal about the terror attacks and the aftermath. I would still remember every September 11th. I would still try to thank our local law enforcement and emergency personnel for what they do. To this day I still want to visit the crash site for Flight 93 to honor the passengers for what they did. I also remember thinking that this war on terror was the new cold war. Just as it took 40 years to resolve the cold war, the war on terror would not be an over night sensation. It would take years and dedication from a wide variety of countries and groups of people. Instead of giving into hate and rumor, I would try to make myself a better person. I would try to teach my children to contribute to a better world.
One last thought. I had not kept up on the rebuilding of Ground Zero. Until a few weeks ago I was not aware of how much progress had actually been made on the memorial and the new Trade Center tower. I am very happy to see that it is a lot farther than I expected. One day I will visit New York City. This memorial will be one of the sites I’d like to see.