9/11: Higgins: Conflicting feelingsWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been ten years since the events of September 11th unfolded, and I find that my feelings are as conflicted now as they were the day it occurred. Strangely enough, I remember no fear; though I was in downtown Chicago at the time the planes struck the World Trade Center, and many thought the Sears Tower, Hancock Building, and McCormick Place were also potential targets.
As more detailed information began to be revealed, I remember that lack of fear becoming an easily remembered pride. There was pride in the heroism of the first responders in NYC and Washington DC risking their own lives to bring others to safety. Pride as well, as we learned of the passengers on Flight 93 who sacrificed their lives in an attempt to re-take a plane bound for further destruction. There was also the pride as once again the nation came together to defend itself and support those most in need of assistance.
Pride turned to anger as the days unfolded, some of which remains with me today. There was anger over the dastardly nature of this attack, which could only be compared to the ‘Day that will live in infamy’ that was the attack on Pearl Harbor. Who were these people and why did they bring disaster to our shores? What level of fanaticism was required by people to choose suicide attacks on innocent civilians in this country as a tactic of bringing about change in their own? What defense could there be against those willing to sacrifice their own lives in an attempt to take yours?
My anger turned to disgust as I saw the best instincts of humanity turned inside out by society’s vultures looking to cash in on the tragedy. There were the scam funds taking donations to help the victims of 9/11 that did nothing but line their own pockets. There were the inevitable and deplorable attempts of those seeking to fraudulently lay claim to funds they didn’t deserve and which were desperately needed by those affected. Parasitic lawyers also attempted to stake their claim, not caring whether they were filing suit for the deserving or not, as long as they got their cut of a settlement.
Then anger and disgust combined as politicians squabbled over this tragedy for political gain, for a healthy round of government pork spending, and as an opportunity to use the natural fear of citizens over the attack as an opportunity to encroach ever more on the individual freedoms in this nation.
And now these ten years later, I am left with little more than a lingering sorrow. I am sorry for the families that suffered the loss of a family member or friend, a loss that no monetary settlement will ever make whole. I am sorry that we seem to have long since forgotten what united us in the days following this tragedy and made this country stronger. I am sorry that the 10th Anniversary of this event has been turned into a political circus where politicians are so concerned with self-serving efforts to find a place in front of the camera and the microphone that the first responders at Ground Zero will have no place at the ceremony held there to commemorate it.
I am sorry that this nation continues to allow things like “The Patriot Act” to encroach on personal rights in this country, in spite of the unconstitutional nature of such legislation. I feel sorrow that we allow the government to invoke the threat of terrorism personified by 9/11, every time that they want take away more of the very freedom that such terrorism threatens. I am all but filled with sorrow over the fact that in some 60 years of attempts at nation building by this country, from Korea to Cuba, and from Panama and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan we have yet to learn that we have no ability in the effort. Even when we win the war, we lose the peace; failing in knowledge or ability (or both) to understand the nature of the people we support, or the needs of the citizens we aid.
The anniversary of 9/11 is a time to honor those that gave their lives that day and those that have given their lives in fighting terrorism around the world since. As the Arab Spring continues, and people that we don’t know or understand take power in Egypt and Libya, we might also want to remember how the failures of our past affect those in the nations with whom we interfere. And as we try to understand our path forward in dealing with Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen, we might ask ourselves if we are looking at yet another reason to remember 9/11.