Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years later...

In 2001 there was an event that changed the way people in the West view the world.
It was a cool, sunny, gorgeous late Summer morning - Sep 11 2001 - that altered the world so.
A group of 19 fanatic Muslim Jihadis hijacked planes bound for major destinations in the USA. The planes were loaded with fuel and passengers. Once taken, they crashed them into buildings during rush hour.
Thousands died in horrible ways, on live TV.
One of the targets of this cowardly attack, the WTC complex in NYC.
It was an iconic structure, part of the world famous skyline of that city.
Several of these large buildings collapsed in the centre of town, killing and destroying more as they fell. But not before we were all forced into watching the spectacle of people holding hands and jumping over 100 stories to avoid being cooked alive. Let me be clear here, these people did not choose death or commit suicide, but chose the MANNER in which they died. They fled the flames, but not the finality. Such a horrible choice. Then there was the calls from people trapped inside on the upper floors. Good bye is not the word for these messages and brief conversations. I am a soldier and have seen many hard / harsh things, but these words still bring a heavy sadness to me, and still wet my eyes on occasion. ALL this horror was telecast. Children in school watched in horror, people shut down businesses to 'cope' with what they had seen.
There is no doubting in my mind that the 19 hijackers and the very real ideological enemy behind them achieved what they set out to do: TERRORIZE us in the free world; the 'house of the West/War' Dar al-Harb/Garb (دار الحرب "house of war").
They were not totally successful, in that their ideas did not pan out in the long run in most cases, and in many backfired. But in other areas they have done more than they could have ever dreamed. But enough of them, for now.
In the immediate aftermath, atop of a small building a group of responders, intelligence, and military minds met to observe and exchange that info. It became apparent standing there that we would take the War East, to their home. There was a complete consensus on this. 
We had to dig out these evil ticks, and we had to make sure the bloodshed and horror was on their front porch, not ours. 
My life changed radically at that point, and not just because of the war. To be sure that is one of the biggest 'things' in my life, but by no means as big as my marriage or raising of my son. During this 10 years of war, travel, and change life went on. in my family for example, we lost 5 good folks  including the entire bloodline I grew up with. We also experienced life. New children and pups came into our lives.
There was economic hardships, and there was bitter politics. There was horrific natural disasters that killed hundreds of thousands, genocides in Africa, and of course the still to be fully understood nuclear nightmare that was Fukushima.  
In some strange way that adds to the horror, doesn't it? The banality.
The mundane nature of evil. How it must simply be accepted; but can never really quite BE accepted. It all seems to add up. To cumulate. We find 
ourselves asking 'what next?'
But next does come, it always does. 
Ten years on things have changed. Some for the better, some for the worse. Some things have reverted to the way they were, others - I suspect - never will. 
In many ways I think people of the age that could reflect have become LESS material. They can see the weakness in being soft, comfy, and  'tech addicted '. The general economy is once again seen as fallible, and adventurous economic policy treated with suspicion.
Many folks, some returning from war others just observing,  begin to see the safety cocoon we have inhabited for what it is: Extremely complex, delicate and jealously guarded. We see 'rights' and privilege for what they are and understand they are not simply inherited, but earned and defended.   
This creates a startling contrast between generations and political stripes. With age and education we see  a generation gap (chasm?), between those able to remember the attack and the feelings it inspired, and those too young or immature to 'get it' as it happened; who see only history.  In a sense I suppose this is the difference between being the actual recipient of a message, and reading about someone sending on in a book. You had to be there - physically and mentally - to really feel it. 
Infinitely more startling and much less easily remedies than young and immature people acting stupid and/or crazy where the other 'gaps' or cracks in our culture(s). Whether these fractures and divisions were intended effects of the 9/11 attacks I see them as being a kind of aftershock or fall out.
Racial and religious issues have once again become a major political issue and force. The political Right and Left are more polarized than ever. In my nation political party membership is the highest since the Second World War. In the USA we see the emergent 'Tea Party' lobby 
buttressed by a hard Left Fourth Estate (press/media). 
When I think of these lines, I recall Reverend J. Wright's preaching as seen during Mr Obama's election campaign.  I think of the economic and social divide over support for the war. I think of the various neighbourhood conflicts inflated by the media about flags, statues, religious symbols / holidays, etc etc. We were and are tense about all this stuff.  
Everyone suddenly has an opinion - a position - on everything. 
I remember my Grandfather once referring to it as 'reality sickness' or, he corrected himself 'fatigue'.
I think both work. He was describing a condition that soldiers had returning from war and civilians who were under threat or direct attack. They had succumb to reality, he said.
They understood the need to take and hold a position physically and mentally. For some it is to be slightly paranoid, to be suspicious sometimes at the expense of friendships and positions.
For others it is the opposite - to be blatantly optimistic and pronoid and even to bury their heads in the sand. Could this be the effect we see in politics, but on a national and cultural level? Who knows.... But something is happening in that 
respect. I'll take the Old Man's word.
Also, aside from the effects on us, we must note it has not stopped.
Madrid. London. Mumbai. Bali. All the attacks.
We must consider the new 'home grown' terror.
Fort Hood and the many smaller or failed attempts of it's kind.
We must remember all the foiled plots around the world.
This war did not start on 9/11/01 and it is far from over. 

There's is a silver lining to all this, and it can be found in sobriety and freedom.
We have been brutally attacked from without and within.
This day marks the 10th anniversary of that event.
Through that loss, through the fear, pain, and blood of it all we have been awakened.
We are hardened and wizened by these events. No longer are we wide eyed children hypnotised by globalism and dreams of 'world peace', we stand on our own feet now and more and more of us are awakened. We more easily recognize friend, ally, and enemy. 
Those cowardly savages did murder ten years ago today to terrify us, and they did - they achieved their goal in that. But they failed miserably in weakening us.
We have become much harder and more efficient in defending ourselves.
But MUCH, much worse than that, from the enemy's perspective, is that we have found the
resolve  to use those ideas and resources to hit them hard and precisely thus make them functionally non-effective (IE f*cked - at least for periods). Evil is like that, it always finds defeat in success. Loss in victory.
We just need to identify those advantages. We just need to understand that we stand against Evil. Not poverty, not ignorance, not injustice, not whatever...but in this case it is quite simply evil. Those other things are symptoms, not the cause. Those formers need remedy. The Evil needs the cure.

On this 10th anniversary of the event now know as '911' the hopes, prayers, and salutations of my family go out those people affected by loss on that day, to those brave folks who responded, to the men and women who volunteered for service ALL about the free world and across NATO, to all the supportive families, all the medical and scientific professionals, all the mental health folks, all the Churches, Synagogues, and all religious organizations, and every single soul that has lent or will lend a hand in the event or those that have sprung from it. God bless you and thank you:  ALL of  you who have sacrificed.
It is my deepest hope that such sacrifice is not wasted, and that we continue to remember what happened that day in 2001.
A blessed and peaceful day to one and all, on this 10th anniversary of that sad and profound day.

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