Posted by: justawriter | September 12, 2011

Far Afield – That day

As I remember it, it was a lovely morning that day.
I was in a rush, so I didn’t have time to listen to the news that morning. I got to my office and the office manager said, “Have you heard about the terrible accident in New York?”
The Internet was really still pretty new back then and my little branch office still had a pokey dial up connection. But I was still able to visit a few news web sites and get an idea of the massive destruction that was happening half a continent away. Then the second plane hit and it was clear that this was actually an attack and not a horrible accident.
At the paper, we reporters were put into full scramble mode to find stories that were relevant both to the disaster and our readers in North Dakota. I knew of an organization that sent members on a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., that day. So I called the group’s office and eventually they were able to put me contact with their members, who were sequestered in a room at their hotel.
One staffer I talked to that day had brought her daughter on the trip. She wanted to show her how the government worked and that people could make positive change if they worked at it. The staffer told me about the rumors of crashes and explosions that were flying around D.C. that day and about the sirens and smoke that were fueling confusion in the nation’s capital. Then she told me her daughter said, “I’m 11 years old and too young to die.”
That young lady is now 21. She has seen her country change in many ways in the decade that followed.
Quite honestly, that was about the extent that I was directly affected by 9-11. I had a couple of acquaintances on the East Coast but no close friends. The aftermath of that day, on the other hand, has directly affected my family along with tens of millions of other families.
I assumed we would hunt down the people responsible and punish them appropriately. I didn’t realize that an out-of-control administration would use the outrage over the attacks to pursue its irrational obsession with a tinpot tyrant who was a bigger danger to himself than the rest of his world. Meanwhile, the mastermind of the attacks was allowed to slip away and his date with justice had to wait for a more rational president to be elected.
Meanwhile, we have become a nation that is seemingly permanently at war. It has become such a fact of life that our casualties barely rate a paragraph in the newspapers. Only the local news covers the impacts, the tears and sadness when servicemen’s and women’s families accept that final flag.
The cost of our multiple wars, declared and undeclared, have beggared the nation. We are told that we can no longer care for our poor, our sick, our elders and even the veterans themselves. We are told that throwing more money at those who have more than they could spend in a dozen lifetimes is the only way to rebuild the country, even if it means taking food out of the mouths of children.
It has been ten years. The madman who started all this pain is dead. It is time to declare victory and celebrate the peace and start rebuilding our own country. We must never forget the dead, but we also need to care for the living.

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