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Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Again

The following excerpt was from a column I wrote for the Bay News in 2003 on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. Today, it’s another anniversary and again, all that I can feel is sad fatigue at the utter waste and loss of all that transpired since those planes hit their mark. Sadness and a terrible knowledge that Osama bin Laden was absolutely correct in his evaluation of America and his clear understanding of just how fragile this country really was/is. He knew that all it would take would be for one dramatic strategic hit and Americans would finish themselves off and end up with a country crippled, bankrupted in a ginned up phony war, an economic system ruled by and for the elite that was as fragile as the twin towers themselves, vulnerable to the slightest economic hit, a country filled with easily frightened and fooled, willingly uninformed people, helpless sheep heading for the cliff. One strike and it all came to pass.

I can only hope that this anniversary finds this country at least more awake and paying attention. But observing what passes for political discourse nowadays, I have my doubts. Perhaps we simply never learn anything.


The Falling Man

The power of that photograph still stuns. It’s what the eye does not want to see, the heart does not want to comprehend. He is seared into memory, the falling man, so calm, so straight against the vast, vertical expanse of the World Trade towers. Head down, his legs slightly bent, hands at his side, his back straight, he will remain trapped eternally in a moment of unspeakable horror, falling forever.

The photographer, Richard Drew, wrote the story that accompanied the photograph. He was puzzled why this photograph, “denounced as cold-blooded, ghoulish and sadistic,” soon vanished from the national media, yet to this day still remains the one picture people remember and ask about. He notes that, “My fellow photographers call it ‘the most famous picture nobody’s ever seen.’ But, in fact, you have seen it.”

We all have and its power to stun remains awful because, as Drew concludes, “. . . we already know the identity of the man in the picture. He is you and me.” . . . . .

10 comments:

Mike said...

Inspite of those who are so afraid to work within the system of preserving and at the same time, improving this country, this country will not fail...!!!!

Those who do not understand that their uncompromising personal adgendas will not stand the test of time and they will surely die very lonely and miserably in their failure to destroy the government of this, the greatest nation on Earth...

The attack on the US did not "...finish themselves (Americans) off and end up with a country crippled, bankrupted in a ginned up phony war, an economic system ruled by and for the elite that was as fragile as the twin towers themselves, vulnerable to the slightest economic hit, a country filled with easily frightened and fooled, willingly uninformed people, helpless sheep heading for the cliff." ...That is the pap some would like to believe as justification for their own failures and their own roles in trying to corrupt and undermine this country from the lowest local government to the Office of the President of the Unnited States... Those are the single-minded extremists who would only have their own way and damn everyone who has the courage to stand up and disagree...

I am proud to have served this country and proudly have the flag of the United States of America flying over my home this day...

Aaron said...

9/11 showed me one thing, which is: even though our country has been divided politically, we came together, helped each other out and we were unified against a common enemy.

Despite the tragic, monumental losses we suffered on that day, 9/11 made America stronger, not weaker in its aftermath.

Alon Perlman said...

Thank you Mike, for serving for our Country, Thank you, also, Mike for reminding me to fly mine. My flag hangs low at half mark.
I became a naturalized US Citizen with a letter, machine signed by President Ronald Reagan.
I was already proud to have graduated from High school in California in the Bicentennial year class of 1976.
But today, for me, is not a day to be proud. Not in the same way as Veterans Day, or Independence Day.
And I do understand your frustration at those who smugly declare that they are against “All Wars”. No, not in THIS world. And I don’t think Ann is one of those.
There is a book, it has been updated several times. Just and unjust Wars, somewhere between 2000 and 2002, I read a used early edition, too early to include the Heffzballa attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut. I thought America would “get it” then. Lessons not learned to this day.

Afghanistan, a “Just war” made unjust by association with the War on Iraq, an unjust war even by the definition of those who know that to gain peace, one must first study the art of war. And let’s not forget that our conflict in Iraq has killed more Americans than died on 9/11.

So when in real time, on the TV, I saw the first plane fly in, again and again, for that first half hour, I “knew”, and when the second plane came in I knew that I knew, and when in the confusion, the San Francisco TV announcer said that maybe San Francisco was a target, because that was one of the planes destinations, I knew that fear and speculation was going to win the day. Because, fuel bombs don’t work as well after expanding their munitions, crossing the country.
And later;
“Why do they hate us?” – I knew the answer- It’s because we had the audacity to ask that very question.
And later, when they called it “The Patriot Act”, after a movie by the same name, I knew again.

The man who fell to earth? He is you and I, but while “We” did not fly those planes, we may as well have pushed him. In Mexico city, that same day, Mexican nationals saw several video’s of people falling, while our images were “Sanitized” for the protection of our minds eyes.
The Sleeping Giant, sleeps yet, and the big stick has rolled somewhere under the couch.
Dune (Dune Chronicles, Book 1) by Frank Herbert 1965
"He who has the power to destroy a thing, controls it."

Bin Laden roams the same Pashtuni province that he was in when our intelligence reported in the media that we would not be looking for him in that volatile area of Pakistan.

And thank you Mike, for bringing about my searching for the date of my Naturalization, for while I would still vote against one of our greatest presidents, as is my right as an American, and I cannot remember if I was naturalized in time to vote against Reagen's second term, that form letter struck me today in a way that it didn’t those many years ago. You have encouraged in me a personal transformation, for I have earned the right to be jaded, and what struck me most about 9/11, is the degree to which people, Right and Left, Republican and Democrats and all those other divisions, were agitated but not changed. They kept on believing- after, exactly what they believed before, perhaps even more persistently, and without question. I think we are more fragile today, and yet I feel we will not fail.

THE WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON
“Today by choice, you formally embrace America as your new home. In so choosing, you are now part of the greatest country in the world. A land of extraordinary natural beauty, a land of strength and pride, a land of God’s precious grace and glory - - this is our America. From this day forward you will share in the blessings of liberty and freedom that we, as Americans, have enjoyed for more than two centuries. With those cherished blessings, come privilege, responsibility…”. “… Join in our efforts to defend and to keep her as the promise of our generation, tomorrow’s generation and generations to come. Together, in common purpose and faith, we will keep America strong and free.” R. R.

Alon Perlman said...

Let's not forget that we are responsible to transfer our cherished blessings to those future genarations.
Let’s not forget the innocent victims, the heroes on the planes, the firemen, the volunteers who are still dying with shards of glass and fragments of human bones in their lungs and the servicemen and women giving their lives since then and today to our freedom, in our wars, just or unjust. This is their day.

Mike said...

Life is not fair Alon, but it strikes me as being better than the alternative...

I'm a little confused when I hear that some folks seemed to feel there was some media blackout of the falling bodies... but I saw them in both live tv and later in printed photos... Certainly not what I wanted to see, but they were shown... I remember that day very clearly for a number of personal reasons...

I'm the last one to argue just vs unjust to war as I have followed orders in a far away land... I have friends still serving in the military and would not disrespect their decisions to continue serving the USA... I thank them every time we get together...!!!

Our country did not fail during or since that 9/11 attack... we picked up the pieces and continued on for better or worse... Some decisions are better than others, but they have never been for condeming the USA...!!!!

As you Alon, I've traveled around this world quite a bit and found that we, here in the US don't have half the restrictions of most other countries... I've had guns pointed at me in nearly every country, even in the middle of Heathrow AP... OK, so the RCMP officer only stopped me with a warning to not run the yellow lights and didn't point his pistol... but the strip search in Boliva was not so funny, the wife had a tiny swiss army knife in her fanny pack and we were treated like terrorists for a few minutes... The Bulgarians and the Argentinians were far more forgiving, but none the less menacing with their machine guns... I only bring those memories back as I don't see weapons carried openly by military personnel in our market places... When is the last time you saw a trooper with a loaded weapon in Von's or Carlock's...???

Alon, we have a reasonably safe country from fear of military takeover right down to the water we drink and the toilet paper we use... If it were as poorly run as some extremists on either end of the spectrum would have us believe, then why are so many from other countries still pouring in to the USA...???

You are correct, today is not a cheerful holiday, but it is a pretty good day to remember and respect those who died in that sensless act, all for the hatred of an extremist faction... It is not a day to condemn the US Government or people known as Democrats or Republicans...

Alon Perlman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alon Perlman said...

Thank you Mike, I accept your comments re blackout as possibly more accurate then mine. I believe our perspectives are close, I think we are both reacting to our experiences with other people, perhaps the same people. I think you understand that to me 9/11 was not a surprise. I was born in Israel. I saw some decisions differently. To those haters who committed it, it was not a senseless act. I will keep this short, more is not important,as I am typing this C-span is showing our congressmen and women singing; God bless America, our home sweet home.

Churadogs said...

Alon sez:"I knew that fear and speculation was going to win the day."

Plus a President who had an opportunity to educate and lead and help focus frightened people into getting serious about the real world, but instead he told us to go shopping. SHOPPING! And we did, right into national banruptcy and near depression. That's how "unserious" this nation was and in many ways still is.

Mike sez:"It is not a day to condemn the US Government or people known as Democrats or Republicans..."

It should be a day of education. There is a huge chunk of people out there who actually believe Saddam was behind the planes, couldn't find Saudia Arabia on a map with both hands, have no idea "why they hate us," because they have absolutly NO knowledge of our past dealings with various countries of the middle east,truly don't understand how our system of checks and balances was allowed to fail by the very people elected to see that the system worked properly and they did so because they allowed themselves to be frightened by wingnut idealogues who were busy looting the treasury. And finally, it should be a day to educate the public about our Constitution and their responsibility to be citizens, not shopping consumers waiting for big daddy to tell them what to do, ignorant of the world and their role in it. 9/11 happened in context. Unfortunatly, the context went missing because the context is uncomfortable to deal with.

Alon Perlman said...

Not to drag this out but,
There are also people who believe, nay, are actively doing "research" today in this county to prove that the Twin Towers came down due to an inside job. Wingnuts with Credibility in this County, influencing elections on their other well researched projects.
So I haven’t gone back, to "Study" the tapes. But know this, As I watched in real time and saw the second plane go in accelerating in a dive engines screaming at full thrust, it obtained the objective of maximal impact and though not level in entry was sending the engines and fuel more efficiently into the core, and concentrating the energy on two floors or so. As I watched the fires I thought about the additional weight and entrapment above of the larger number of floors. When the building went down it was the second building first. Physics.
The vibrations and shock wave from the first collapse had to transfer, I knew that the second building Tower 1 first hit was doomed to join very soon for that alone. PHYSICS. These predictions were about 1 hour past 9/11 not being an ordinary day. I really hadn’t thought of the blind Imam’s previous attack.

The main lesson from a first responders perspective was the lack of cross communications between the agencies (fire, police, Port Authority, etc...). The operation (Bin Laden, The Largest? Construction company in Saudi Arabia) was estimated to have cost ½ a million dollars.
5 Billion Dollars later and FEMA could not handle Katrina communications challenges.
There was a lull in “terrorism” news a few years ago, knowing that more was coming, and knowing terrorism. I realized that the next attack would be a coordinated satchel bomb attack timed to occur simultaneously. From a maximal American psyche terror perspective, the heartland was vulnerable, as the next target. But then I thought more globally from trhe terrorist's prespective and considered that the more likely situation was big cities on both coasts, and places such as Chicago known by name in remote villages in the rest of the world. Of course I was wrong. London was hit, a month later.
The world (or Los Osos) isn’t hard to figure out, Basic principles exist. However as the more remote and derivative information gets added in, the less the simple truths can be distinguished.

How hard would it have been, in the confusion as Iraq fell to it's foreign invaders, to send a couple of Black hawk helicopters and pick up a dirty nuke from The Ukraine and hide it in Iraq, for the UN inspectors to find, “proof of WMD”.

Nobody can keep a secret. Not here. Conspiracy theorists feed on smugness, in the belief that they are doing good, not for being responsible for proof.
Foam blue "Number One" finger waving, Sports metaphor transferring, Patriots Versus the other extremes?
Is changing your mind harder then jumping on a granade?

Churadogs said...

Alon sez:"As I watched the fires I thought about the additional weight and entrapment above of the larger number of floors. When the building went down it was the second building first. Physics."

Saw an interesting PBS documentary on why the twin towers collapsed. A design weakness, not enough insulating foam and the designers not designing for planes to be deliberately used as bombs. New high rises are now built to withstand jet fuel and plane better.

Alon asks, then answers:"How hard would it have been, in the confusion as Iraq fell to it's foreign invaders, to send a couple of Black hawk helicopters and pick up a dirty nuke from The Ukraine and hide it in Iraq, for the UN inspectors to find, “proof of WMD”.

Nobody can keep a secret. Not here."

I suspect that enough people believed the crappy "intelligence" until it was too late, and by then enough people were too suspicious to pull that one off. And arrogant, as in, no need to fake WMDs once invasion was fait accompli, simply change the drumbeat, change the "story" and carry on as if it was the original reason. Recall how "smoking guns" and "mushroom clouds" changed immediately into "Iraqi freedom!" and if you objected you wanted the terrorists to win. Misdirection, then change the story and use the Fox Megaphone to amplify the drumbeat. Toss in a few "orange alerts." It was easy.

As for future hits. I have no doubt. And seeing how stupid people behaved over something less terrifying than medical reform, I have little hope for how the country will behave in future. American democracy is paper thin. Scratch it and you find armed fascism at the ready. How quick and easy it was for Bush & Co to violate the constitution and even now, there is no outcry but a shrug.