The 11th of September.
Here we are 8 years down the winding path that time always leaves behind in our wake… beyond all the twists and turns, obstacles and ditches, and friends and enemies that we have passed by on our way to wherever we are going.
Who here remembers what they were doing on 9/11 before they learned about what had happened in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania?
I can’t specifically remember, but that period in my life, I was going through a homeless phase after splitting up with my ex-fiance Aimee for a spell – which happened a few times over the 5 years she and I were together.
How many of you remember what you were doing exactly when you found out?
This I do remember.
I was sitting at the public library, using the pay-for-play internet service to check my email and surf for whatever it was that I was interested in at that point.
Through my travels over the interwebs, I caught snippets of stories out of New York about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.
This was at about eleven o’clock in the morning, long after the towers had come crashing down – but in the circles I was browsing, news wasn’t exactly front and center so I was missing the whole story.
As far as I knew, some idiot had forgotten which way the sky was and had plowed his Cessna it one of the WTC towers.
While I was surfing, a MSN box popped up and said my friend Steve had popped on.
Steve had been attending a bible college in Florida over the summer and we only chatted here and there, so I messaged him and made some lame joke about how he should watch out because planes were falling out of the sky that day.
Now remember, I had no clue about the scope of what was going on south of the border.
Man… did I ever get an earful – which left me a bit pissed off (because I didn’t know what his deal was) and a bit more curious as to what the actual story was with the plane that I had read about in passing.
It didn’t take me long to get the whole scope of the situation, or at least the essentials as my $10 dollars was running out.
After that, I waited until the evening news to get the big picture with video and sound and a lot of ‘Oh my god’.
Suddenly, being homeless didn’t really seem that big of a deal.
Fire fighters from my city traveled southward in hopes of helping the victims in New York.
Days later, I moved into my new apartment and got my utilities and internet connected.
The Time Magazine subscription I had set-up online began to kick in a week or so after that and I began to learn about the who’s and why’s of what actually happened during that fateful day
Names like Osama bin Laden.
Organizations with names such as Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
It seemed so extremely bizarre and otherworldly that crazy old men who lived in caves in the middle of the desert could strike out and destroy so many innocent lives in an orgy of seething hatred – thousands upon thousands of miles away on the other side of the globe.
So when the decision came down that the United States of America was going to invade Afghanistan in efforts to root out these evil doers, I was all for it.
I cheered every time I saw a bomb fall from a plane.
I became excited every time I saw ordinance explode.
I compared the military hardware that was in theater to the encyclopedias both on my shelf and in my head (I’ve always been a warfare enthusiast… World War II was my specialty).
However, as the war raged on, I began to realize that the U.S. Marines were not going to catch up with Osama… all they were going to get were his Taliban flunkies whom he gladly hung out to dry.
Eventually, the full-scale war in Afghanistan wound down when U.S. commanders came to the same conclusion that I had.
They left token forces behind to make sure the Taliban stayed out of Kabul, and left the cave-by-cave manhunt to NATO forces who had tagged along.
Things were quiet for a while before George W. concocted some crazy-ass bullshit about how Osama was chillin’ with Sadam Hussein and decided to throw an entirely new war in Iraq – hoping to finish what George Sr. had started a decade earlier when Iraq had invaded Kuwait.
As time went by, it became very clear as to how much bullshit George W. Bush’s administration had cooked up in order to roll tanks down Main Street, Baghdad.
It didn’t really matter, though.
What was done was done.
The idiot managed to get himself re-elected based on the Terrorist Boogeyman that he had convinced the American people was hiding around every corner – which may well be entirely accurate, but any accuracy was diminished by the fact that it was political gamesmanship at both it’s finest and worst.
Sadam Hussein was tried in a kangaroo court and sentenced to hang.
The man did deserve to be hanged for things he had done to his own people over the decades that he had been in power – but the judgment and sentencing should have been carried out with more decorum in someplace like the Hague… instead of inside former Sadam palaces staffed by angry Iraqis who were being propped up by the Bush Administration.
To add insult to injury, Sadam’s hanging was graphically broadcast over YouTube for all the world to see.
During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, countless Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives had been captured by U.S. forces and quietly scuttled off to the internment camp set up at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – without legal rhyme or reason beyond having been labeled ‘enemy combatants’ by George W. Bush and his cronies.
These poor bastards (and yes, I do recognize that these are people who want to kill every single man, woman, and child in the Western World) have been tortured for 8 years off and on with no one able to do a bloody thing about it since the Bush Administration and it’s point-men at the C.I.A. and the Defense Department were above the law in their own eyes.
To this day, nobody knows exactly what to do with these prisoners since they present a serious problem to the new Obama Administration and the world at large.
What do you think would happen if Barack Obama signed an order today to magnanimously allow all these detainees go home right this instant?
They would go back to whatever country, town, or mountainside that they came from and tell everyone who would listen to them EXACTLY what happened to them over the course of the last eight years – or they might embellish their tales somewhat… but it’s hard to imagine any sort of embellishment that would top the actual torture that went on in the cells at Guantanamo.
How do you think that would make their compatriots feel? Like giving all the westerners a big hug?
Or… what do you think would happen if all these people went on trial and we sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty?
Will we all get flower bouquets from our friends at Al-Qaeda head office?
I find that prospect to be very dubious indeed.
So here we are, eight long years later and the forces that conspired to kill and maim so many people on that sunny late summer day hate us more than ever.
Doesn’t that make you feel warm and tingly inside?
Or does it fill you with abject terror?
What is it that you think we as citizens of the ‘civilized’ world should do to rectify this situation?
I’m slightly partial to an angry mob showing up at the Bush compound in Texas and grabbing Dubya right out of his bed before sending him to the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan via UPS while he’s still in his pajamas.
That’s gotta be worth something to Osama, don’t you think?
However, I honestly don’t know if there can ever be an end to this circle of hatred and violence in the Middle East.
The fact that Barack Obama has tried to open a dialogue with the Islamic world gives me a faint glimmer of hope that at least the damage that has been done will stop happening.
If the Islamic peoples of the world at least take a moment to hear calmer head speaking to them, maybe they can calm down as well.
If you take away the people’s anger and mistrust towards us in the West, how are organizations like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda supposed to function? Where will they find volunteers?
Maybe then we’ll all be able to sit down and sing a global chorus of Kumbaya.
Then again, maybe not.
You know what?
I don’t frikkin’ know.