Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lest We Forget

I love ordering pizza to be delivered. One evening, I ordered an anchovy & onion pizza with extra cheese. Unfortunately, I didn't open the box until the delivery guy left, and I found a pepperoni & jalapeno pizza. Foolishly, I tried to eat the thing, but I realized it was to spicy to choke down, without having my nose run and my eyes water. Thus, I called the restaurant to inform them of their error, but they wouldn't exchange it because I'd eaten a few bites. I fumed all night. I was going to write to corporate headquarters, that manager was NEVER going to work in this town again; I was going to make sure of it. The next morning, my brother rushed into my room and switched my TV on, just in time for me to see the second tower collapse.

Suddenly, the pizza seemed absurdly trivial.

2,977 innocent people, and 19 hijackers, died as America watched. Among the 2,977 victims were the 246 passengers and crew of the four planes, from which there were no survivors, the 2,606 people who'd been going about their business in the towers and on the ground below, and the 125 people who were killed at the Pentagon.

Approximately 200 people fell or jumped to their deaths from the burning towers, landing on the streets, and rooftops of adjacent buildings, hundreds of feet below. Some victims, desperate to live, tried to make their way upward toward the roof in the hope of a helicopter rescue, but the roof's access doors were locked. 411 emergency workers; 341 firefighters, 37 Port Authority officers, 23 police officers, 8 privately paid EMTs, and 2 paramedics; died as they tried to rescue people and fight the fires.

Everything else became secondary in importance, as Americans reeled in horror at the events of that day. A nation, which hadn't suffered a foreign attack upon its shores, was suddenly vulnerable. We were vulnerable.

We were vulnerable, we were scared, and WE WERE ANGRY! In a way I've never seen before or since, that vulnerability, fear, and anger morphed into a sense of hyper-patriotism. For six months we wore images of flags and eagles with pride. We weren't Democrats and Republicans divided by party lines, WE WERE AMERICANS. As Americans, we roared with a collective rage; we were going to get "them."

This Sunday is the 10th anniversary of that fatefully tragic day. Many TV & Cable networks are planning special programming to mark the occasion and cartoonists are planning September 11th anniversary tributes in Sunday's funnies, as rumors of a "credible but unconfirmed" terrorist threat to New York and Washington, D.C. dominate the media. Nobody knows quite what to expect on Sunday. We wait with baited breath to see if it will be a day of reverent remembrance honoring those who were lost, a day of speeches and political posturing, or a bloody catalyst to another period of hysteria and increased violence.

Many Americans plan to use Sunday as an opportunity to reflect upon the tragedy and the resulting decade of war. Personally, I plan to watch my copy of "A Tribute To Heroes," the televised all-star concert which raised money for victims' families, and do some reflecting of my own. In fact, I can't help but reflect as I write this, and a question occurs to me. On 9/12, if we'd known our collective rage would lead to ten years of war, and arguably the passage of the constitutionally devastating Patriot Act, would we have reigned in our anger during the 6 months which followed?

What do you think?


1 comment:

  1. This was an incredibly written post. You really expressed how this country was feeling. I remember going to my dad's church that weekend and barely being able to get through the door because of all the newcomers holding flags, candles and photos. I too wonder what will happen tomorrow, I couldn't even make it to my dad's new church inauguration in the morning b/c traffic on the bridges and tunnels will be hell, and to be honest I'm too paranoid to take the subway lol. This was a touching post James, thanks for sharing =]