I’m staring the time on this computer and realized it was September 11. And I’m taken aback by it , I shouldn’t be but I am. 12 years ago today New York and Washington and a small patch of land in Northeast were the biggest coordinated attacks that have hit these United States since Pearl Harbor, these three incidents spawned much of the conflict America has faced in the first decade of the 21st century.
I remember where I was; I was on my way to school when I first saw the news; and I’m not humble-bragging that at the time I thought it was a possible attack. But I also remember the total numbness of that day; of people literally saying it was the end times. I remember this surreal statement by this chick in my sociology class telling us how she told her kids that if they were in the room with the President of the United States and someone had a gun; that they should take the bullet for him. I remember the conversations of the draft being activated and reading up on it. I remember being real cautious about getting on the bus going to my grandfather’s house because last week there was a bombing in Israel; and hell after that day anything was possible.
I remember being glued to the Television and the Internet for the next week just absorbing the information which seemed to just be leaking out everywhere. I remember how for a while how the real news had returned and how everyone got serious. And I remember the inevitable march toward action in Afghanistan. The scenes of the Taliban blowing up sacred Buddhists statues being on perpetual loop. The stories of the victims and the attackers. There was the dragging of every alphabet soup lettered agency to Congress to be publicly harangued on C-SPAN.
But out of all of that the thing that most stuck with me was this conversation I watched on Charlie Rose. Bob Simon, a foreign correspondent for CBS, and someone who covered the Middle East and was even a hostage there was talking about possible actions against Al Qaida. The thing that stayed with me was that he said America would have to ask itself how far it would go in order to stay safe.
How far it would go.
See it’s been twelve years, we went and are still in Afghanistan; we went into Iraq; and Osama bin Laden is dead. The US government increased the Intelligence budget and created the Homeland Security department. We increased the number of Extraordinary Renditions, built GitMo, and tried to institutionalized “Advanced” interrogation techniques . We made Unmanned Aerial Vehicles a household name.
So it has been twelve years; we now have a whole generation that has known terrorism as a part of life. And not the romantic kind that existed when I was a kid; the IRA’s, the Zapatista’s, or Carlos. But the OBLs, the Khalid Sheik Muhammad’s, and the IED. The United States foreign policy is now shaped by this day, as is an aspect of American psyche.
So here is to all those effected by September 11, may today and every other day you find peace