September 11, 2008

September 11: Seven Years Later

On September 11, 2001, I had just moved from Fort Lauderdale to Coral Gables.

I had heard something about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center, but I assumed it was a small plane in a tragic accident; I didn't really pay much attention because I was getting ready to go to work. I turned off the TV and got myself out the door.

As I got into my car, one of my neighbors was smoking outside the building. "Did you hear about the World Trade Center?" "Yeah," I replied, "did they find out what kind of plane it was?"

"Oh, man," he said. "You didn't hear? A second one just crashed into the other tower!"

Oh crap, I thought. It was an attack. Once is an accident, twice is an attack, no doubt about it. I turn on the radio as I drive across town.

As I pull into the parking lot at work, the first tower collapses.

We didn't have a TV at work - we were a theatre scene shop. But there was an old one in Props, so I dragged it out and plugged it in to a local station. Since people kept stopping at the gate, I turned it so people on the sidewalk could see it, if they wanted.

We worked a full schedule that day, although we didn't get much done. We all knew people up in NYC, most of us had lived there at one point or another. Gerardo, our scenic painter, kept coming up to look. He had spent a lot of time at the WTC; I think he worked there while he was in college up there.

The next few days were creepy; my route to work took me right by the airport; it was odd not seeing a single aircraft in the air. My step sister called to say that she'd been at the WTC subway station when the second plane hit; the alarms were going off, and the train immediately left the station. By the time she got to Rockefeller Plaza, she learned the building - like all the big buildings in New York - was closed. She walked home to Brooklyn. She had to cross at the Queensboro bridge because her normal route through lower Manahattan was closed off.

When she got home, her street was covered in litter; it was paperwork from the WTC. It had blown across the river, and settled on Brooklyn Heights like an early snowstorm.

So here we are, seven years later. I have just moved from Coral Gables to Fort Lauderdale. The man most responsible for the acts of terrorism is still at large, and largely unhindered. We've invaded a country that had utterly no involvment in those actions. We've alienated some countries that had been allies, we've de-stabilized the Middle East, wrecked our economy, and spread ourselves so thin that we can't deal with more crucial threats that have developed since the Idiot-In-Chief decided to topple a largely powerless dictator.

I've learned that I lost about 6 people I knew in the events of that day; 2 were on the jets, one was in the Pentagon, and the rest at the World Trade Center. They were not close friends; three had been classmates that I can sort of remember. One as actually a friend of a friend. But it's still unnerving to find you have a connection to such a disaster.

I've never blamed the current Administration for the events of That Day. They just happened to be the ones in the hot seat when it all went to hell. Neither do I absolve them: ultimately, we are NOT safer now. Our enemies have not been vanquished, our allies do not trust us, and those who were undecided now fear us. Our subsequent actions have validated every single negative comment ever made about America. We have become the conquerors everyone claimed we were.

Are we safer?

Ask yourself this question:

Do you believe that you would be safe wearing the American Flag alone on the streets of any country, anywhere in the world?

If you answer "yes," then you've successfully managed to ignore everything that has happened in the world in the last seven years. If you answered "yes," I hope that you're secure enough to forego voting in the next election; your fellow Americans would consider it a service.

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