Saturday, September 11, 2021

Twenty Years On


I was driving to work.  It was a morning like any other morning. I had just crossed one of the two bridges I had to cross in the pre-dawn darkness. The talk show I always listened to was chattering away.

Then the host came on - somewhat confused, he announced that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  

From there, the drive to work became a series of worsening news:  a second plane hitting the World Trade Center, a plane hitting the Pentagon, the collapse of the Two Towers, and a final plane crash in Shanksville PA, destination unknown (we knew later, of course).

I called my future business partner, Himself. "Look at the TV" I told him.  "Really, what is up?" was the response.  "Look", I said back.

The silence on the other end of the line was deafening.

I arrive at work at my usual time, 0530.  By 0900 we were all sent home - who knew where the next plane was likely to hit?  We sat for the rest of the day, eyes glued to the screen and ears to the radio, as the description of the World Trade Center continued to roll in:  Plane parts falling, people falling, firefighters and police charging into the buildings as people fled them - and the buildings falling themselves.  And then, the endless digging, looking for survivors with occasional wins, until the wins stopped altogether.

Twenty years.

As I look back over the last twenty years, I have to ask the question "Who won?"

Certainly we have not had such an attack since that date, so in that sense "we won" - but at the cost of thousands of dead, thousands more wounded, and literally trillions of dollars.  All to find out, as it seems, that twenty years of fighting was not destined to destroy the ideology that enabled this or the people that believed in it.

But twenty years has drastically changed us.

We now shuffle through airports like cattle, benignly taking off our shoes and putting our items on the X-Ray track.  We lock our pilots behind doors and only use the front lavatory one at a time.  Almost no-one meets anyone at the airport anymore:  you cannot go greet someone at the gate so we just call at the luggage carousel and wait to get picked up out front by the letter "J".  Travel, once a gateway to parts unknown, has become a series of holding pens and lines.

Our e-mails, phone calls, and other communication modes (texting was not really a thing in 2001) can now be captured and stored by the government, theoretically only with permission but that feels to be observed as much in the breech as in practice.  Our financial transactions are more and more limited: too much money might make you "of question".  

We are less free personally and economically and far prone to government oversight and actions "for our protection", yet somehow feel no safer.

In the end, who really won?


  1. No one won. We lost so much that day. As a nation, as the human race, as individuals. Some lost so much more than others. Imagine being the children of people lost that day that hadn't even been born yet. They lost someone dear to them that they never got to meet or know. It was hard for us seeing it happen. I couldn't imagine being in their shoes.

    1. Kat - I would agree that no one won, with the caveat that we and the world changed how we interact with each other and among ourselves. In that sense, there was a victory by those that thought to create disruption in the system.

      I wonder about those children. They are close in age to two of my own. How would or could the surviving parent explain things intelligibly? Do they wonder how different life would have been?

      Thank you for commenting.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Yannow TB - go ahead and delete that. I am just bitter and twisted about the whole damn thing. Americans often forget that they have friends in other countries, and when those towers came down I was as pissed with rage as any American.

      Ignore me. I will get over it...

    2. Done Glen. But you of course have the right to be angry. Good heavens, do not confuse my writing with a misunderstanding that there really are evil actors in the world. And there are.

      Oddly enough, my mind also goes today to the 12000 estimated Christians today in Afghanistan. They will have to experience this day - and every day following - with a fear I can scarcely imagine. The fallout of 20 years ago affects so many.

  3. Twenty Years ago I was the Active Duty Manager for a Texas Air National Guard Special Operations Weather Flight.
    – I had just gotten back to the office from our Ops Group weekly meeting. I heard on the radio that there had been an explosion at the World Trade Center. I remember the last explosion and wondered if it was another Terrorist bombing. I went down to storage and pulled out a small TV from one of the Team kits. I had it set up and tuned in just in time to see the second plane hit live on TV.
    I called the Boss at his job and said “We are at war”
    He had been watching as well and we started discussing plans for the next two weeks.
    I hung up that call and started the Recall Roster…
    I notified my unit members to tell their employers to prepare for their absence, and to pack their bags, triple check their gear, and prepare their families.
    I then called AFSOC and notified them that all unit members are accounted for and prepared for 72 hour deployment as required.
    My first team went out the door in December 2001, our unit had at least one person deployed in support of OEF and OIF from 2001 until I was medically retired in 2010.
    While I was in Kabul in 2003 the backstabbing POS that I voted for in 2000 changed the ROE to handcuff the Heroes who won the war, and installed Islam as the government of Afghanistan,
    AND started the purge of our military leadership to install the Pro-Islam brigade that runs it today.
    I was NOT surprised when bush voted for Hillary or when he voted for biden.

    We as a Nation have forgotten 911…
    The proof is that we have actual Terrorist sympathizers elected to congress,
    We have a Dictator that actually said for the record that he is losing patience with Law Abiding American Citizens,
    And we haven’t Tarred and Feathered him and Strung up those who are controlling him.

    Our country has forgotten 911,
    I can't,

    Just imagine a World without Islam,
    Then we could forget 911,
    without getting a reminder,
    Like the one Dictator biden just set up and paid for...

    1. MSG - Thank you for sharing your story and your service.

      We have forgotten. The fact that we have forgotten is emblazoned on our nation for the reasons that you indicated.

      When terrorists are more glorified than citizenry, and citizenry is considered as adversaries, there is a problem. And that problem will not hold forever.

  4. After 9/11, the people thought nothing of giving up freedoms for the illusion of safety, as Congress passed "The Patriot Act," which allowed things like warrant-less searches and wiretaps. Does anyone know that "The Patriot Act" permits federal agents to search your person and premises with NO PROBABLE CAUSE anywhere within 60 miles of the coast line? You know; where most of the country's citizens live. FF 20 years later, and the people are once again willing to give up freedoms for the illusion of safety with things like Biden's "mandates." Nothing has changed. Everything has changed. And none for the better...

    1. Agreed Pete. One would have hoped that our Congress Critters would have at least not renewed it, but alas, they apparently benefit too much from it. The reality is that we are now literally no safer than we were.

  5. Anonymous1:35 PM

    I don't recll the exact time it was, but I live in Central Time Zone. Iheard some one up in the front office say a plan had hit one of the WTCs. I assumed it was a small plane and wondered if the pilot had had an attack of some sort,

    So I went to the conference room, where we had a large screen TV on wall and was surprised to see such a large hole and fire on the building. About 30 seconds later, we saw the 2nd air liner hit the other tower on live TV. And the realization hit me.

    Pointing at the TV, I said "This isn't an accident. This is a message. People know this is on live TV and want us to see this. We are at war."

    We went back to our desks, going back to hear of the Pentagon being struck, then Flight 93 crashing into ground. It was a nightmarish day.

    1. Anonymous - It was. And it was, that I can recall, the first major event I remember that was effectively simulcast as it was occurring. We all got to live it, every horrible minute.

      Thank you for sharing.

    2. It wasn't an accident, and it was more than a message, it was a performance. The show is ongoing.

      The Greeks used this in their culture to achieve a catharsis, or spiritual cleansing of emotion. This is a willing suspension of disbelief. We are watching an ongoing play or spell or glamour.

      We just need to regain our senses, but we always get a new ritual spell to bring us back under the galdr.

      Who is casting the spells?

    3. Just So, can their be a proximate cause and an ultimate cause? At least for me - as a practicing Christian - the ultimate cause is a supernatural opponent. The proximate cause is those that would benefit from a system where power is centralized and people are fully controlled.

    4. The Hydra has many heads, but only one heart.

      The Distal cause is evil, on a spiritual and religious level.
      The Proximate cause is always the same...

      Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20

  6. It was a beautiful fall morning when I entered into the bank to cash my severance check from my own "hammerfall" and was annoyed at a television blaring away on a counter in front of the vault. I paid it no heed and did my business. I just walked into the parking lot of my apartment complex when a man ran out shouting about planes flying into buildings. I thought him crazy, drunk or both. But inside my apartment, I couldn't resist the feeling that I should turn on the television. I did and saw a video of both buildings engulfed in smoke. It wasn't 30 seconds later when the first one fell and I watched it live. The strength went out of me and I fell back into my chair and I don't think I left it the rest of the day. It didn't even occur to me that the world had fundamentally changed until over the next several days when all the jobs that I had applied for started sending messages back saying they were going to have a hiring freeze for the foreseeable future. For the next three months, I thought I might experience homelessness before I ever found another job. Fortunately that didn't happen but it was closer to reality than I ever want to get again.

    1. Ed - I understand that feeling. Even driving into work, there was a sense of unreality, like events were being misinterpreted - the normality bias perhaps.

      I know the feeling of the other side as well. When Hammerfall hit in 2009, I went almost 3 months before I could get more than one interview (in a total of being out of work for five months, I only had four). Literally the month I started was the month the last of the termination pay ran out and we would have been in real trouble.


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