I am angry. I pride myself on not writing while emotional, but I cannot help it.
I just finished watching 102 minutes, a documentary about 9/11. The horror. The young, fresh-faced first responders who, when the first plane hit the Tower, thought they were going in to save people. The people of New York, a truly microcosmic representation of our country with their vastly different backgrounds, ethnicity, and beliefs, stating unequivocally that we ‘must retaliate’. I raptly glued my eyes to the screen, in speechlessness, waiting for the next act of this true tragedy.
The Hasidic Jew fire fighter, his reddish blond curls bouncing under his yamaka as he walked toward the towers in his firefighter uniform, determined to save others. With dozens of others walking with him-Italians, Jewish, Polish, Irish…AMERICANS. And I sat, knowing their fates. Tears running down my face. All the police personnel, the FDNY, the civilians, that I knew would not make it out of this. And I began to get angrier and angrier.
And yet, here were are, only 18~ years after the largest terrorist attack on America, worried about plastic straws, the 2nd Amendment, and whether or not it is politically correct to say ‘ma’am’ at work.
What the hell has happened to this country? Where are those New Yorkers that live in every town, saying ‘hey, wait a minute! We ain’t gonna stand for this!’-the attitude heard over and over again in the days after the tragedies of 9/11.
When 9/11 happened, it was so much of a horrific blur to me. I watched the coverage, days and days of news TV, “let’s roll” and repeats of falling bodies as those in the Towers chose to jump rather than burn to death. But I was numb. While I comprehended the awfulness of it, I did not process it emotionally. Not then. And I don’t think a lot of people have completely processed the full horror of the attacks. Still.
And now we have a whole generation that has no clue of what 9/11 meant, or should have meant, to this country. To our daily lives. Think about that for a minute. We have a whole crop of 18-30 year olds who were either just being born, or too young, to remember or comprehend that 9/11 was the most serious and largest terrorist attack on their country. And they are of voting age.
Why do we bend? Why do we absorb the horror, understanding the reasons behind it, and allow those who might agree with the actions of those terrorist pilots to come to our country, and dictate what they are allowed to do and what we will do for them? Why do we HAVE to fight to integrate those from other countries, making laws specifically for them, spending millions of dollars to defend the United States laws against people who choose to come here but then refuse to agree to our laws. Insist on their ways, their rules, their ways of life.
Ok. Fine. If you want all those things, stay home. Don’t come to this country. THAT SHOULD BE OUR ANSWER!
Prior to 9/11, that was our answer. I don’t remember any sanctuary cities, or people publicly shitting on streets being allowed, or any of the other things we’ve accepted as news items we hear and dismiss daily, because they are ‘just part of our world’ now. Why?? We seem to have gotten progressively worse, in our acceptance, allowing more and more degradation to our way of life, to our belief systems that made this country an amazing place to live and made us proud to be a part of. Again, why?
Because we’ve forgotten.
We’ve forgotten what that day felt like. We were violated. You only need to replay the videos of that day to see the reactions if you can’t remember what it felt like. We, as a nation, were the subjects of a hate crime.
And it shut down our country for weeks. Our planes, our monetary systems, our shipping, all were affected by the attacks. Do you remember now?
For a little bit, we all became, regardless of political party, brothers and sisters of the same geographical family. Like a more traditional sibling relationship, we can fight with each other all day long but when someone from outside threatens, suddenly we are one. But…then it faded. It became political, twisted, the media tore at the edges of that solidarity.
And we began to unravel. We haven’t stopped, and that unraveling we allowed to happen has turned us into meek do-nothings that can fight all day long for our positions behind our laptop screens, but cannot stop to tell someone crapping on the street to STOP THAT! THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
We have people in our Congress who want to remove our 2nd Amendment completely, who believe killing living newborns because a mother chooses to is still somehow part of Roe v Wade, and that anyone who still says ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ is racist, rather than simply being polite. And we are allowing this to happen. Just like we are allowing people from other countries to come here, illegally, and somehow dictate to our government what they can and can’t do.
I think every year, on 9/11, the documentaries should be part of every school curriculum. Any other country would do so, why don’t we? We promised we would never forget, in those days after the tragedies.
But we have.
We didn’t pass on what we learned.
We are vulnerable. And we need to remember. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They are out there. And they are only 1 lucky chance away from another 9/11. Or maybe a coronavirus pandemic….