Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11

Hard to believe it's been seven years already... the events of that morning are still so extraordinarily clear in my mind: noting what a perfect autumn day it was as I dropped my son off at Peanut Butter Playcare, my pager going off on the way home telling me that there was "a fire at the WTC" (where one of our premier customers was located), dialing into the call bridge to monitor our customer's systems while they evacuated the building, flipping on the TV to see if CNN was covering it, watching the second plane hit, getting a call from a confused friend of mine stuck at Logan airport where they had grounded all of the planes and turned off all of the televisions, watching coverage of the Pentagon being hit, the plane going down in Pennsylvania, watching in horror as the towers came down one by one, pandemonium and confusion as the news reported a fire on the Mall in Washington. I remember thinking we were under attack. I remember wanting to pick up my kids from school. I remember putting up the flag.

Glued to the TV for days after, my peers and I constantly chattering about the event, none of us working. Watching the towers fall over and over again, raw. Listening to stories about the thousands of victims. Flags everywhere, in front of homes, on cars, in windows... a collective statement of outrage and sorrow and solidarity.

And then the slow move from emotion to logic with the questions, "why?" and "what's next?"

Days and days of televised speculation over the next target, one horrific scenario dreamed up after another. I became convinced -- as I am now -- that al Qaeda had made their glory statement and that if they really wanted to, or were able to, continue a pervasive campaign of terror against the US they would have struck smaller, more ordinary targets... a school, a church, a shopping mall.

It seems pretty obvious in retrospect that bin Ladin wanted to goad us into invading Afghanistan where he could relive his Afghan-Soviet glory years and bleed us out as he did with the Soviets. I will give Bush credit for not falling for that one.

In the seven years since 9/11, Bush's "shop, baby, shop!" fix for the post-9/11 recession led to policies that enabled a real estate boom that has since busted, dragging the economy down with it and indebting us to China. National hysteria propped up Bush's reckless plan to invade Iraq and then propelled him into a second disastrous term in office. Bin Ladin was never caught, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan inexplicably became our new BFFs, and Iran -- whose greatest threat to us, along with Russia, is that they're jockeying for a financial slice of China's resource pie -- is now our enemy du jour.

Closer to home, in the time since 9/11, I've lost my dad and gained a niece and a nephew. My eldest graduated from high school and my youngest entered, and is now almost done with, elementary school. I've changed jobs (internal to the same company) four times and my mom has retired. Peanut Butter Playcare (with a brand new building and thriving little business) was torn down via eminent domain to build yet another strip mall that will now sit empty.

Life goes on, I guess... but it's never the same.

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