For most Americans, today was pretty much like any other day. If you avoid the news programs and Facebook, you might actually be able to go all day and not realize what day it is. For that, I’m actually sort of grateful, because it means we’ve healed as a nation enough that statements like “terrorists win” or “hates America,” are finally fading from the hysterical national dialogue.
Ever since a bunch of assholes decided that innocent Americans would have to die to make some ridiculous point about their twisted view on religion, people on both sides of the conflict went absolutely insane. After 3,000 innocent people died both in the towers and on the ill-fated flights, the country I love took on a super charged tone where individual freedoms were sacrificed in a blind group-think pseudo-patriotism.
The ensuing wars took the life of my friend, and turned others into fanatical, ultra-conservative, Muslim loathing strangers. The previously lame duck president took our country’s budget surplus and used it to fund his friends’ pockets through lucrative no-bid government contracts. Thousands of innocent Americans, Iraqis, Afghani, and European allies perished in the conflict, and thousands more were wounded.
The areas where we invaded are still unstable, still in conflict, and there’s not a lot of hope in the future. In spite of all the lives lost and wasted time, effort and emotional investment, the region could easily produce another terrorist leader like the one who orchestrated the attacks we remember today.
September 11th means so much more than honoring the innocent people who were simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is more than remembering the bold and selfless first responders who ran into the burning buildings and didn’t make it out again. It is more than the “let’s roll” spirit of the passengers who rose up against the hijackers and prevented even more loss of life by downing the plane in a grassy field.
Because, although all these things are honest, valid and worthy of honor, there is no loss of life, no amount of bravery, that is worth pushing an invalid agenda in vain. We should never seek to use tragedy for profit, or sacrifice the virtues upon which our nation was founded, in the name of those innocents. To do so dishonors them, and lowers the level of discourse to the same ignorant diatribe that inspired these dirtbags to harm us.
That said, I will always remember where I was on 9/11. I will never forget the way the day and weeks following passed in slow-motion, and the way we all tried to come together, if only for a moment. I remember watching the second plane hit the tower, the people jumping to their death, and the feeling of helplessness as more bad news came pouring in.
I remember getting no comfort when I finally got through to my father on the phone and having no answers for my hysterical mother when she got through to me. But most of all I remember the anger and sadness being caught up in someone else’s conflict, one I had no answers for, and could do nothing to repair.