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September 11

September 11, 2001. The second major world event in my life where I do, indeed remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. Because I was the only one in Word Processing who listened to the radio at work, I was the first to know in my unit. I heard the original news report that "a plane struck one of the towers of the World Trade center," since we started work at 5:45, and the first attack happened around 6 our time. Of course at that point I expected, along with everyone else, that it was a small passenger plane and an accident. We all know the details which followed. I was sitting at my computer staring glassy-eyed at the screen and not listening to dictation when they came with the story that the second tower had been hit, and one of my co-workers came up to ask me a question. I told her about the plane crashes. A few hours later the news had trickled to everyone and they turned on the television in the conference room. The rest of the day, however, is a little blurry.

Yesterday morning they were talking about tributes and memorials planned across town, and over in Tempe by the "town lake" (long rant possible on that subject) they have set up a field of American flags, one for each life lost in the Towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania. The television news reporter giving the story called September 11, 2001, "the day America lost her innocence."

I wondered about that. Because it seems to me that we lost our "innocence," such as it was, long ago. I personally pin that particular loss (although in some ways it was a distinct gain) on Richard Nixon and Watergate. The stark revelation of a president who lied to everyone shocked America out of a rather innocent time when Presidents were Good Men who were not to be mocked, and, when disagreed with, done so with respect. He was the President. This can be seen in old movies from the 40's, whenever Roosevelt is even mentioned, it's with great reverence and respect. The same with Eisenhower. After Nixon, though, presidents were seen as men with distinct feet of clay, and comedians were given free rein to mock as they pleased. Where would Chevy Chase be without Ford's slip on the Airforce One steps? Dan Aykroyd's Nixon; Dana Carvey's George Bush; the Spittin' Image Reagans in the classic video "Land of Confusion."

However, come September 11, 2001, and suddenly we're back the other direction. No bad must be said of the President because these are "dangerous times" and "He's The President." It's shocking to see any comment against the president being called unAmerican, unPatriotic, and even treasonous. It's even worse than the 40's and 50's. How long has it been since Will Ferrell performed his riotous version of DUHbya?

Bill Clinton made note of this in his recent Daily Show appearance, and commented he was glad to see it coming back the other way. If any president of recent history was made the butt of jokes, it was good ol' Slick Willy. Also performed magnificently on SNL by the likes of Phil Hartman and Darrell Hammond. I hope he's right about that. While I don't particularly like mocking any American President, I believe we have the right to do so, sometimes (often) the NEED to do so, and shouldn't lose that right by wrapping the man in the office, and I've laughed as much as anyone at portrayals of the men and women I've supported as much as the men and women I haven't. Phil Hartman as Clinton is just as funny as Will Ferrell's Bush.

Anyway, having never been to New York while the Towers stood, I'll now never see them. Their entire lifetime existed within mine, which seems like a very short time for architectural masterpieces. Oddly, in a detached way, I mourn the loss of the buildings as much as the people, and not just for their "symbolic" appeal, but for their beauty, their accomplishment, and their style. Also lost that day were historical items very few people stopped to remember, things which were stored there for safety, such as all the records involving the excavation of the slave burial grounds found on the New York islands.

And most of all, I mourn the real loss of America that I have witnessed in the years since. In many ways the terrorists did win over our way of life that day, because we have gladly and willingly surrendered many of our basic civil rights in the name of "safety." To be safer, we have thrown away a number of things which we took for granted as Americans. The simple right to gather in a public square, or go to a Presidential debate, have been abolished. I won't even go into taking a plane trip. And it was all wrapped tightly in the flag under a name like The Patriot Act, implying that if you're against such a thing, obviously you're not a patriot. Every time I'm told I don't "support the troops" because I'm against the war in Iraq, I burn inside. Propaganda from El Presidente is swallowed eagerly by fully half of the country and they continue to beg for more. "We are safer." Just remember that. "We are safer." Just ignore the reports that terrorist activity has actually increased, not decreased, since we forwarded American Safety by invading Iraq. I can only thank goodness a gigantic number of young voters get most of their news from The Daily Show.

I had a second rant, but I can't remember what it was. It came to me briefly at work yesterday but I didn't have the time to write it down, and as such, well, it's gone. Maybe I'll remember sometime.

I think I'll bake cookies. Nothing like cookies on a too-hot September day.

Also of note to remember: John Ritter passed away suddenly one year ago today, and tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the loss of Johnny Cash. Is my first draft done? No, but in my own defense, I DID have to turn in fully NINE reviews by yesterday, and I did it. Whew. (And for those interested, they can be viewed here, once they all get up.) For those who like solid Texas country, I recommend pretty much everything by Robert Earl Keen.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
melvh
Sep. 12th, 2004 01:54 pm (UTC)
Well.... it wasn't SUPPOSED to be a rant...
If it helps, I do not believe "supporting the troops" must be synonymous with "supporting the war".

I have friends who have served, and are serving in the Middle East. I have a lover who I am thoroughly glad turned down what may be the last promotion he'll ever receive from this man's army, because to accept it meant he'd have been shipped to the front.

I support them all. I send supplies like toilet paper, magazines, CDs and flea collars to those folks for whom I have shipping addresses.

But damn it! I want them all home! NOW!!! And I want the incumbents in Washington to stop rubber-stamping throwing more good soldiers into the meat grinder. I firmly believe that we are serving NO good purpose over there.

And I am heartily embarrassed that the Point Man on our loss of civil liberties was the duly elected governor of my state before he got to form his own version of the gestapo.

I have a friend who got out of the World Trade Center that day. I have another who didn't get off of Flight 93. I have others who served on the Emergency Response teams that answered the call in NY, and are still suffering PTSD for it. I feel the pain of "Patriot Day" more personally than most folks I know.

And I still think this whole plan of giving up the rights my father and grandfathers fought to protect in the name of "Public Safety" is a load of Unmitigated BULLSHIT!!!

So you keep right on opposing what our elected officials are doing in the name of Patriotism, kiddo. Because THAT is what it means to be an American.
wildrider
Sep. 12th, 2004 02:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Well.... it wasn't SUPPOSED to be a rant...
Thanks. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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