It was a clear day like today. A Tuesday in September. Still warm enough, but with a chill in the air.
Before I walked the kids to school, I’d checked the internet and seen that a plane had hit the towers. I didn’t think anything of it, because recently, a small plane had hit the Empire State Building. I thought the same thing had happened again and remember a vague annoyance. Was this going to be a thing, now?
I walked the kids to school five blocks away through the beautiful morning, thinking of the novel I was writing and of what I could do after, because I didn’t want to be stuck in literary fantasy forever. My first book was a month from being on shelves.
I was in many ways an idiot, an internationalist Libertarian who believed frontiers were a construct. How this managed to coexist with my patriotic fervor for the US is a mystery. I did mention I was stupid, as well as young, right?
Maybe not that young, because I was 38, but still young because the world was a marvelous place. Sure, horrible things could happen, and we’d deal with them. Sure, even then, the left was crazy (remember the hanging chads?) but they hadn’t completely departed reality, and I hoped with the gradual reality check of the internet over the MSM they’d integrate into reality. I wasn’t certain, mind you. But I had hope. The world was a bright and hopeful place ahead, just like that crystalline September morning.
I’d give all I have and some besides to go back to those hours, to have the attacks never have happened, to have the towers never have come down.
I’m sure it would not be without issues. Bush would probably have given a bad name to Republicans. If he’d got his hands on social programs and got to play around with them unimpeded, who knows?
I’d still rather then than now, and the hysterical denial that has sent the left’s oikophobia into a spiral that has them now unable to accept anything but the dreams of their religion and its coming paradise. That has the two halves of this country on a collision course. That has the world on the brink of a long slope down, because whatever they think, if America falls, civilization will not long stand.
People have compared 9/11 to Pearl Harbor. It is not. It’s something far more terrible. Terrorist attacks (undeclared war) against our military is terrible and I realize it traumatized a generation. But this was an attack on civilians: on people like you and me, living our daily lives and pursuing our happiness. It killed children on the way to Disney world, just like my kids who’d visited the year before. It killed office workers, and writers, executives and cleaners and waiters. People who, whatever their private failings, had no reason to expect to die by enemy action.
We’d been scheduled to be on vacation that week at the WTC Marriott (I think. The one in the towers.) We were going to spend points from Dan’s traveling job and take the kids on a real vacation, not our pokey 3 days in Denver. But two weeks before Dan was called back to work for a project they needed him on. (He could be on the bench for a month at a time back then, and having just finished a big project, expected at least that much.)
It struck at the heart of the city that for us born abroad and aspiring to come here WAS America. (I still have a soft spot for NYC. The hardening of politics has made it so I wouldn’t consider living there now.) It is the place immigrants came and made good.
Our last president was fond of saying we should get over it already. Not two months after the accident someone no-longer-a-friend told me that more people are killed on the roads in America per year than were in the WTC, so what does it matter.
What it matters is that it showed the hostility in the world towards us, for nothing in particular that we’ve done except existing. (Yes, I know, our involvement in the Middle East, blah, blah, blah. Given the persistence of memory i the Middle East, as well our being mad at them for their involvement in Europe. It’s an excuse, not an explanation. We’d done nothing except keeping them from obliterating each other, and pouring rivers of money in aid to the region. Yes, I know foreign aid is aggression, but you need to understand economics a lot better than most Middle Eastern people to get that.) And that they could reach in, and kill innocent citizens.
By doing that they punched the mirror of our self-regard, our security and our certainty in ourselves. And the world splintered. And we fell through.
It split us as neatly as if those airliners had been flown through the center of our political landscape.
The same half of the country that was communist or at least socialist in the hopes they’d be eaten last is now hating their own country and insanely trying to claim the role of victims of our own culture as well as protectors for all the brownz people. IOW running around like chickens with their heads cut off, hoping they’ll be eaten last.
The other half of the country has about fifteen years in gotten tired of it, and just wants a return to reason. The other half also understands peace through superior firepower and thought the last administration conclusively proved there is no peace in bowing, apologizing, and handing out misspelled “reset” buttons.
Metaphorically speaking that window has broken and we were pushed out by the fire behind us.
As a nation, we’ve fallen from the towers, and are suspended mid air, knowing we won’t survive the impact. Not as we are.
It was the day the universe changed, for a significant number of us. Sure, I’d have shed the illusions of youth eventually. But it wouldn’t happen for so many of us at once.
It won’t be forgotten, because we can’t forget.
The mirror shattered from side to side, and the shards flying from it, have cut our polity into new and strange shapes.
We can pray and hope and work to its not coming to blood, to its not coming to the end of our country as it is and more as it should be.
Sometimes miracles happen and something there is that protects drunkards, fools and the United States of America.
But it will be a miracle. And looking back, it is at that inflection point that it broke, under the impact of an attack on civilians by men who thought they were pleasing a 7th century cult leader and his bloody god, who would, in turn, give their co-religionaries domain over the Earth. It’s not politically correct, but one of the many fall outs of this is that many of us have have grown tired of political correctness.
Perhaps just in time. If a miracle occurs.