Today is the 12th anniversary of the 9-11 tragedies (September 11th 2001 )where two planes flew into the World Trade Towers, another flew into the Pentagon and another crashed into a field in Pennsylvania resulting in the loss of over 3000 lives.
I recall the horrors of that day. I recall waking up seeing the first plane stuck near the top of the first tower of the World Trade and like many initially thinking to myself, ‘How did a small two-seater hit that building?…
I recall how surreal it was to see that second plane hit the other tower and one of the announcers on TV shouting; ‘I think we’re under attack’..At the time, the gravity of his words didn’t really sink in.. Like many, I thought what I had just saw was another horrific accident.
When I got the news of the two other planes crashing my immediate thoughts were; is there some sort of mechanical failure with all our planes and will each and every one of them would come crashing down from the skies?
I stayed glued to the TV.. I was in shock and didn’t wanna be by myself. I wanted to do was be around family and friends. I was also concerned about family many of who live in NY. Eventually all would check in but my beloved Godmother who was fortunately out of the country but at the time we had no idea and hence we all wondered if she was one of the victims..Hence we were on pins and needles worried.
I recall how sickening it was hearing about folks who were stuck on those top floors of the tower who had two choices either get burnt alive or jump 100 stories to their death..Many jumped..The networks didn’t show it while Spanish language TV did.. People jumping from those towers is what has remained on my mind over the past 12 years..
Today folks will do as they have always done for the past 12 years. They’ll gather around the sights of the plane crashes and will listen to all the names read off one at a time. The mood will be somber. For those who were directly impacted the horrors of that day will remain etched forever. For many others I’m not so sure.
The sense of community and compassion that was displayed in the aftermath of those plane crashes is long gone. 12 years after the 9-11 attacks what brought us together and ideally should’ve kept us together is a distant memory.
12 years after the 9-11 attacks Fear and Intolerance are main drivers for political, social and economic actions with the specter of 9-11 being a political prop. The homage paid to it by many of our leaders are empty gestures. It’s a photo-op, where everyone says they wanna honor the dead..but that honor shows up not in us upholding one’s humanity with peace as a first and foremost goal, but in us continuing a never-ending War on Terror with Revenge as a first and foremost goal.
12 years after 9-11, the Taliban is gone, Osama Bin Laden is dead, Saddam Hussein who had nothing to do with 9-11, he’s dead as well and we got all sorts of folks lingering in Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants, yet we are still seeking revenge. Like many, I’m not sure who else are supposed to be tracking down and at what point in time will we be able to say ‘justice has been served‘.
12 years after 9-11 instead of building community and uplifting humanity, we have been taught to see everyone both here at home and abroad as potential enemies. No one is to be trusted. This has resulted in us putting all sorts of intrusive laws on the books that has led to mass surveillance and mass detainment. It’s resulted in us putting together a Department of Homeland Security that has spent trillions of dollars fueling the military industrial complex to fight the War on Terror.
12 years later we still don’t have a Department of Peace which was has been proposed in Congress initially by Dennis Kucinich in 2001 as a Cabinet level position. That proposal has been reintroduced every year since the 9-11 attacks.
In the aftermath of 9-11 we were supposed to make solid institutional commitments to think outside the box and explore ways to ease people’s fears, find ways non militaristic ways to end violence and go all out to build bridges and bring people together. That has yet to happen even after 72 co-sponsors came together to push for this in 2009 when there were big majorities of Democrats in both the House and Senate and President Obama had just taken office. Could you imagine there was a vigorous push for that in the same way we had a push to Bomb Syria?
Today there’s a lot for us to think about in terms of what road do we really wanna travel. Shortly after 9-11 there emerged a fork in the road. One for War and Revenge.. the other was for Peace…I think we traveled down the road of War and Revenge looking for Peace. We lost our way and need to come back.. You wanna pay tribute to those who died on 9-11? How about pushing for us to take bold steps in a new direction?