9/11: The day Old America died

By Sunfell

September 11 was the birthdate of at least three of our staffers. The cake was waiting, but it, along with everything else- was abandoned when the Governor decided to close our offices and send us home. I was holding the state seal in a conference room we were clearing out for renovation when we got the news: Go home. Now.

I remember how clear and achingly beautiful -and silent- the skies were- until the jet fighters flew over. It was strange to see a military formation of aircraft circling our city, while a long queue of commercial planes lined up to land at our airport. We counted 26 planes parked on the parallel runway, and people drove by the airport to pick up stranded strangers and offer them a bed for the night, since our hotels were full up. Hey, we had a reputation for Southern Hospitality to maintain.

I think that the thing I remembered the most- and what sticks to me this day- is that September 10 was the last day of Old America. Remember Old America? It had its problems, and a bumbling, somewhat clueless and vacation-happy new president, but we had our freedoms, rights, and hopes. We were in Old America, a good place to be, especially if you were rich.

The door slammed shut on all that on September 11. It was the First Day of New America, the land of the fearful, and the home of the bravado- a country reacting in anger, and following a leadership which deliberately redirected our ire and the good will of the rest of the planet into the quagmire we’re in today.

We lost much more than some buildings and people that day. We lost many of our freedoms. We lost our abililty to protest, to speak back, to use rational means to debate. We lost our right to debate. We lost our rights. We’re in a constant state of low-level fear- ‘condition yellow’. ‘Condition orange’. Condition green is a distant dream.

This wasn’t my first brush with terrorism. I lost several friends who were aboard Pan-Am Flight 103 when it was bombed over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. I remember how kind the folks of that town were to me when I visited it in 1990- 2 years after the tragedy. I remember how strange it was to see the four names on the memorial plaque of people I knew- people I’d worked with. I remember helping to supervise the packing out of their home in Germany. The landlady could not stop crying.

There is nothing more haunting than a home whose occupants will never return.

And I wonder- will our spirit return? Or will we be slowly crushed into oblivion by people who use events like 9/11 to keep the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt running high? Will our readiness posture ever be ‘green’ again? We were once ever-green. I sincerely hope that we’ll be so again.

Categories: War/Security

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3 replies »

  1. I think the thing that breaks my heart the most about this is that the America of Sept. 10 was, for all its faults, a much better place. Not simpler or more innocent–we still had Bush the election thief in office, and had 9/11 never happened, God knows what kind of craziness he’d be into instead–but it was more relaxed. The biggest things people were worrying about was balancing the budget and Eminem’s influence on our kids.

    Now we’re a nation of scared, shrill crybabies, passively sitting by as our futures are raped to pay for a war we should never have begun. Our economy is in the toilet. Our bridges and roads are falling apart. Our culture of crass consumerism is at its nadir. People are hollowed-out, used up, angry all the time, and even when they try to hide it, they know something in our land is deeply, terribly wrong.

    We’ve got to fix it. Because no one else can or will.

  2. I take a lot of encouragement from the polls these days, which show that Americans are not happy with how things are going. There’s plenty to be unhappy about on the “American public” front, of course, but at least our countrymen have begun to grasp the obvious.

    I’m far less encouraged by the leadersheep of the “opposition.” The Dems have been appalling since “taking control,” and if they can’t make progress with massive public support and majorities in both houses, hope is faint….

  3. Lockerbie, along with the first WTC bombing, were among those events that should have convinced the then-young administration that terrorists were our greatest threat.

    By disregarding that and allowing 9/11 to happen, their administration became a failure that day, just one and a half years into its term.

    The simplest way to begin the process of redemption was to bag bin Laden. Not only did Bush & Co. go off on the Iraq tangent instead, but the public let them.

    Depressing poll came out yesterday: One-third of Americans still thinks Saddam was responsible for 9/11.