Monday, September 11, 2006


The internet and television and print will all be sick with 'Where Were You Five Years Ago?" stories. Already I'm planning to keep the TV off the major networks, and some cable channels tonight because I'm sick of the media rehashing of what happened five years ago.

Where was I five years ago? In Rehoboth. Walking back from the corner bakery. A woman, wearing black spandex was roller blading up the street. She stopped, pulled the earbuds from her ears and yelled, "Oh my God! A plane just flew into the World Trade Center!!" Still gives me chills to think about that. Moms and I went back to our hotel room, and turned on the tube. The horror, brought live and without commerical interruption, sat us on the edge of the beds for the next several hours.

I'll never forget the sight of desperate people jumping out of the towers. Falling to their deaths. Their clothes fluttering in the wind, as they plunged down into the streets below. And all the paper, reams and reams of paperwork, generated by the offices within, dancing through the air, like some bizarre snowstorm.

Several hours of this madness went by, with the news broadcasters switching to the Pentagon, then eventually up to Shenksville, PA, and back to the Towers. Mom and I hardly speaking, but both knowing that the world will never be the same.

Finally, I couldn't stomach any more horror. I escaped to the beach. To sit, away from the unfolding madness on the television. A few people were on the beach, but there was no frolicking. I don't even remember seeing any kids playing in the surf. Even the gulls were subdued.

After awhile, Mom came down, and we sat, in silence, watching the waves come and go, just as they had for millions of years.

Dover Air Force Base is very close to Rehoboth. (Close, because Delaware isn't a particularly big state anyway) As we sat on the beach, jets started screaming over our heads. Scrambled from Dover, they were the only things flying that afternoon. Mom was sure we were at war. Later in the evening, we went for a walk, and the town was deserted. Most bars, restaurants and stores were closed, as the nation observed a day of mourning. We even drove out toward the Outlets, and they were mostly closed. It was very eerie.

Five years later, do I feel different? Safer? Do I think we're safer as a country? Different, yes, as I'm five years older, weirdly in my early forties. Safer? No. I never felt particularly unsafe before. It never dawned on me. Safer as a country? Hell fucking no. We've made ourselves a bigger target by exhausting our military on a senseless war, stretching our resources to the breaking point, breaking down our citizen's morale, and making everyone distrust their neighbor. I'm scared for our country because this isn't the America we were taught about in school. This is a paranoid society we've generated, which is more ME ME ME oriented than it ever was. I was brought up to help my neighbors, not watch them, not to report alleged suspicious activity. As neighbors, we all stuck together, and helped one another. As a nation that has long touted diversity, we sure have gotten paranoid of anyone not exactly like us. And I'm ashamed.

My father fought for the pre-9/11 USA. When we dicussed the Iraq war before he died, he (an ardent Republican) said, "Iraq has been under a ruler of one kind or another for their entire history. Whoever thought that they WANT to be a democracy is crazy as a shithouse rat." I've never forgotten that. But now, we have friends and relatives over there, dying on a daily basis because of what? Would someone please enlighten me? We sure aren't safer as a nation because of the Iraq war. Our basic personal freedoms are emperiled every single day because of "The Terrorists Within". The weapons of mass destruction haven't materialized. Now we're hearing that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Oh, I know, blah, blah, it's the liberal media reporting, blah, blah. SPARE ME. The media is the media. Fox is the same blather as CBS or NBC. It's just more convienent to pick the truth you want to believe. Facts are facts.

9/11 was a wake up call, but after the mindset got twisted along the way. The sick feeling of rage as an American icon was attacked gave way to the hatred, and the paranoia. We do not need that. We need to be united as Americans. But we are more divided than we ever were. Divided by the color of our skin, our heritage, our language. What we need to do as a nation is to embrace our country. Embrace our neighbors. Realize that we're all in this together. We're not there by a long shot. And it's sad. Unite is become an exclusionary term. Unite with people of the same race, the same color, or the same $ocial $tatus. Suspect anyone different than you. Thats wrong. And dangerous. The fissures of division are wider than ever before, and that should scare the hell out of you.

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