9/11/08: Seven years later
Like most on that day seven years ago, I feared planes crashing into buildings and frequent bus and train bombings in our major cities would be things we’d have gotten eerily used to by 2008 — the morbid background noise of our own Jerusalem-style intifada on our own soil.
The future was virtually unknowable even to the most prescient among us. I was 23 years old back then, prime draft age. I knew there’d be war — there’d have to be. For me anger came before the sadness set in. I wanted revenge as I watched on TV the smoldering pit down by the Battery, the fires at the Pentagon, the potential for any new horror to manifest itself as suddenly as anything else that day.
You remember how deeply disturbing it was to have been rocked out of the simple, complacent times of the 1990s into a kind of newly serious anxious lethargy which (to many including myself) could only be satisfied by watching things blow up overseas. We needed only wait a month.
Seven years later, none of my fears came to pass except for that and another war. I wasn’t needed on the front lines. I was behind the lines supporting my brother who fought on a distant battlefield, giving what I could to military charities from time to time, encouraging those who needed it. Thus far this has been my part, if only a small one. We all have a part — that’s how America is so different than it used to be.
Seven years on, we remember the fallen, but also give thanks to those who have made America safe since that terrible day. Earlier today, President Bush dedicated a 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon and made some remarks. If there is anyone to whom thanks must be given, it is to those brave and strong people who have made it possible for President Bush to say these words today:
“Thanks to the brave men and women, and all those who work to keep us safe, there has not been another attack on our soil in 2,557 days.”
Never did such a thought cross my mind seven years ago.
Pic from the Pentagon Memorial website (DoD).