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Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Reflections on September the Eleventh
I remember September the 11th, 2001 as if it were just a few months ago. That morning I was gathering paperwork and working on paperwork for our entry Visa into Russia. I had the television on, and I think "Regis and Kelly" were on. All of a sudden, a special report appeared on the television. Of course, report fragment after fragment kept coming that morning, as no one really knew for a time, what was going on. Before long, video of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers was being shown. It was only the first of many other news reports, which were worse and worse as the day went on.
I remember my husband calling that morning wondering that if we were at war, and if we had been attacked, if perhaps we should not go to Russia at all." Ours is an humanitarian mission", I said. We have to go. Of course, being an American on a plane which had to go from Virginia to New York, then New York to Moscow, and then Moscow, five thousand additional miles East to Vladivostok, was no longer a comfortable prospect. My husband asked if I thought we would still be able to enter the US after being in Russia for the month we were scheduled to be there, if by then we were at war.
In retrospect, I don't think I understood that day how much had changed. Prior to September 11th, I knew that Osama Bin Laden had been spreading the internet with hate speech against the United States, and was doing so rather vigorously. Other nations do sometimes as well. I thought it unlikely that anyone other than the disturbed would follow Bin Laden. I did understand the amount of venom and jealousy some nations have for the United States. A great deal of it is based in misunderstanding of our media, particularly some of the television programs we export as "representative of the US" when it in fact, is not. I believed that our CIA and FBI was likely monitoring sufficiently to block any real attacks, especially since the domestic terror situation in Oklahoma City.
I did not understand. Osama Bin Laden found plenty of people who hated not only the US, but any nation that was developed and anything approaching civilized. He found plenty of radical Muslims who hated women, and any nation who permitted them to hold positions of power. Sadly, Muslims who did not hold these views, for the most part, kept quiet. They did not renounce the actions of a radical fringe. Since then, some of them have insensitively tried to build Mosques in areas that Christians feel are offensive. I do have moderate Muslim friends, and therefore I at least understand that they don't all hold such radical views.
Prior to 9-11, preparedness and survivalism were largely felt to be the purview of the paranoid. Following 9-11, people began to realize that when the planes are down, the medications en route to your pharmacy and hospital aren't getting there, as few pharmacies hold what they need for even a week of prescriptions. People in the US began to examine how vulnerable our nation is, not only to terrorist attack, but to any type of natural disaster which cuts or limits our ordinary supply lines. Preparedness did not begin for me after 9-11, but it began that day for many Americans, and at least we can thank the radical Muslims for that. We can also thank them for the progressive dilution of our Constitutional protections which have occurred since that time, slice by slice. Now, an illegal Mexican occupant of the US can open a bank account at Bank of America with a social security number, but I cannot.
Since then, I have met a surprising number of people whose brothers, cousins, friends, fathers-in-law were killed in the collapse of the Twin Towers or the attack on the Pentagon that day. I have yet to meet someone whose family member was on heroic Flight 93. I can't help but notice how similar the weather, the sky and the day is today in comparison to September 11, 2001. I pray for the surviving families of all the people lost, and who remain missing from that day.