First, my apologies for doing this late, and not havng the survey results out yet; I was house-sitting without wifi. I tried doing the post on my iPhone, but the app doesn’t like to save things when people call in the middle of a post, so…
So yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, as well as a failed attempt most likely on the White House. 2,977 lives abruptly ended that day. Though the attacks occurred in the US, it wasn’t just American lives lost that day. Britons, Israels, Argentinians, Korean, French, German, Bengali; the list goes on, with over fifty nationalities (minus the hijackers) represented. The 9/11 attack weren’t an attack on the United States, they were an attack on the world. The action sparked two wars and countless interdictions worldwide. As it reads in the short story “The Tower”, part of H. Jeremiah Lewis’ Gods and Mortals: New Stories of Hellenic Polytheism, Ares was to be unleashed, and unleashed he was.
My 9/11 story is simple. I was pulled out of my eighth grade English class, as were many of my classmates. Many of us didn’t go to school the next morning. I got home in time enough to see the second tower being hit on live television. The skies were quiet except for the occasional F-16 from the nearby fighter squadron flying overhead. The only thing exceptional about that was that even from afar you could see the missiles on the pylons. Combat sorties don’t generally happen over American soil.
My generation has, in a way, been defined by the 9/11 attacks. The Iraqi and Afghan wars are the conflicts of my generation. My great grandfathers had WWII, my grandfather’s generation Vietnam, and my father’s had Desert Storm and Bosnia. Our world is increasingly Orwellian. The PATRIOT act in the US makes trying to get a search warrant just a little easier (and really, that all it does), enabling the government to increasingly monitor possible internal security threats.
In many ways, Osama won. The West has been consumed in a culture of fear, and our societies and economies have suffered for it. We were not without our victories however. Bin Laden is dead. Many of his top leadership are dead. The repressive and barbaric Taliban regime has been toppled, and the country of Iraq has voted in its first free elections in a generation or more.
At this time, I also reflect on my own victories and failures. In one hand, I finished two of the most mentally challenging training regimens in the US military apparatus. I participated in almost 100 mission in 25 countries. I’ve worked with men and women from over 50 countries. I’ve been responsible for enemy deaths and for saving coalition troops. At the same time, I’ve lost close to 1000 men on my watch, men who will never be seen on this earth again.
Ten years after, change is the name of the game. Maybe we’ll never recover. The trick, however, is to never forget.
For a list of names of those who fell on 9/11, please visit http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,62151,00.html
For a list of those blessed dead of the Iraqi and Afghan wars, please visit http://icasualties.org.