Wednesday, September 09, 2009

596 Septemper Eleventh Part I

596 September Eleventh Revisited Part I

Veterans of the Viet Nam war have a saying: If you weren't there, you don't get it. The same can be said of September eleventh, 2001, the eight anniversary of which is approaching. There were three "grounds zero," not one. The main one was the World Trade Center in New York. There also was the Pentagon and a lonely field in Pennsylvania.

As your distance increases from these points, the impact on you tends to decrease. "It wasn't such a big deal" is heard throughout the land.

The pint size intellectual in the White House didn't get it when it happened and didn't get it for the rest of his presidency and doesn't get it now. And if you weren't there, neither do you, even if you think you do.

Time fuzzies out the day and the days that followed. We look at the events and the circumstances with gauze over the lens. Or not. It's like the day Kennedy was shot. Everyone remembers clearly where they were that day, that hour. And everyone lost someone when the trade center came down. Everyone knew someone who was trapped in that hell. If not that, then a cop or a firefighter who plunged into the wreckage and died or who live on with godawful afflictions acquired in the line of duty and sometimes without compensation.

And now, here we are, eight years later, and the World Trade Center remains a hole in the ground. And the guy behind it all is still on the run or hiding in a cave somewhere. And the insurance companies and the city and the builders and the developers and on and on are still arguing about what should be done ... and when and how.

The mind, gauze on the lens or no, doesn't grasp three thousand deaths in an attack on American soil. The number is overwhelming. But we grasp the death of a loved one or a neighbor or a friend or a guy who worked at the next desk and went to his reward without you because you were running late that morning.

And the mind, gauze on the lens or no, doesn't totally cloud the unity we all felt in the aftermath, a unity that lives in our minds and hearts but eventually evaporated, like the poisoned smoke the Environmental Ministry told us it wasn't.

My friend and then-colleague Don Mathisen went on the air with me the other day and talked about the lessons of the day. Don said he had hoped that the event taught us that the military is needed to protect New York, and that local police and intelligence should be expanded. Don is right, of course. But what would have happened if a flight of Navy F-14s had brought down a civilian airliner? You know the answer to that one don't you?

(More Friday)

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

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