My 9/11

My daughter was 6.  We had moved back  to the Poconos, and I was commuting down to my office in Montgomery County, Pa, that year, and I would drop her off at her Montessori school on my way.

That morning,  after I did so, I tuned  to a news station.

At first, it seemed like I was hearing about an  awful aviation accident, like Flight 800. .  The news reporters were almost incredulous: “A plane….has hit the World Trade Center!”

I drove on.    And then, of course: the second plane.

I called my husband, who at first was rather cavalier about it.  Should I turn around? Was school cancelled?  No, it wasn’t. I drove on, away from home and my child, my anxiety increasing with every mile.  Then the school did decide to send the kids home; my husband picked up our daughter.    So she was safe with her father.  I drove on.

I arrived  at my office, having heard more about the day’s events than my colleague or our secretaries, who had the radio in the office tuned to a “Clear channel” type station which I don’t even think interrupted the Muzak with the news.  I sat there.  I was crying.

I was  crying because  by this time it was clear that this was an Islamist attack. (And yes, on that day we heard news reports about celebrations in the mosques, although now,  those reports  have been scrubbed,  and we mustn’t mention them, have to  pretend we don’t know they happened).  And what I thought, what made me cry,  was: in this country, we have freedom of religion.  We will not be able to identify who may be an Islamist!  Any of our neighbors could convert and begin bombing, poisoning.

Farewell the tranquil mind.

For days,  I cried when I saw the awful picture of the burning towers, so like the ill-opened Tarot card.  I fantasized about how wonderful it would be If the attack had been foiled, and Leno and Letterman were making jokes  about those   idiots who actually thought they could destroy New York City with a few boxcutters!  Actually thought they could topple the World Trade Center!   The studio audience guffaws!   And we would never know how close we had come…..how I longed for that blissful ignorance.

Life went on.  I continued my commute, but from that day on I listened to KYW News Radio every minute I was on the road, so I wouldn’t be taken by surprise if—when—the next attack occurred.

9/11 blighted the security of my motherhood, siphoned from my  absorption in my career.

But oh, I’m glad I didnt  know then what I know now: that instead of surveilling and curtailing this vile  bloodthirsty creed, instead of keeping its adherents at a distance, our country, inexplicably, embraced  it and them!  Their number as immigrants increased! Mosques proliferated!

I was furious when my daughter’s Montessori school, that year, decided to teach the kids about Ramadan.  I wanted my daughter taught to duck and cover at the sight of a hijab.  That, in retrospect, was my first clue.

Oh, for a while I thought it was kind of…exemplary. There were no incidents of backlash against Muslims.  The Koran sold out in bookstores.  America had to be the most tolerant nation ever to grace the face of this benighted planet.

But now, I feel we missed an opportunity.  Or rather, we were deliberately steered away fro an opportunity, by Bush’n’ Blair an their “ religion of peace!” propaganda. Whose side were they on? 

Let’s suppose America had displayed a justifiable, universally expected suspicion of, dislike of, nay, hatred of, Muslims, just some basic instinct for self-preservation!— in the wake of 9/11.  Could we possibly be any more vilified by the Red-Green Alliance that we have been and presently are, despite the unprecedented tolerance, the humility and self-examination we exhibited?

I do not think so.

We protected  and nurtured  a scorpion in our bosom.   Our vey breast is scarred and withered and hardened with its poison.  My life was shadowed, yours was , too, O Ratty.

”We will never forget!”  Remember those T-shirts, bumper stickers?

A promise broken, buried in spurious, sanctimonious, traitorous falsehoods.

Do not forget.

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39 thoughts on “My 9/11”

  1. My 9/11 happened a world away at night. I was watching it on TV and had the feeling it was an action movie instead of reality. It shocked the world.

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  2. 10 Cents:
    My 9/11 happened a world away at night. I was watching it on TV and had the feeling it was an action movie instead of reality. It shocked the world.

    Did it?  And why did we so soon become anesthetized to that shock?

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  3. I was at work.   The CADD guys came boiling out of a room full of workstations and went to the conference room to hook up the TV.   The whole office gathered and spent about two hours gaping at live coverage, until we were exhausted from shock and returned to work.

    I was hopeful that the event would educate America about the threat from Islam.

    W. Bush and Tony Blair both belong to Christian churches that had been corrupted by the Left.   They were naïve.

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  4. At the time, I was working for the government, but had taken the day off as contractors were taking part of my chimney down and replacing that part along with installing a stainless steel flue. It was not a pretty thing, the attack. It could have been worse as to the number of lives lost. I don’t know if I will ever get on an airplane again.

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  5. Oddly, I got a crippling migraine early that morning which only happens once every ten years. I couldn’t move an inch, much less stand up, as the events unfolded in the TV in front of me. I was grateful that the kids were in school just having a normal day, but that turned out not to be the case. Turns out their teachers were having meltdowns and everything stopped as they watched coverage of people jumping out of buildings all day. Even the elementary school.

    That was the first sign of a pathetically weak response, to me.  Second was President Bush encouraging us to go shopping.

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  6. G.D.:
    At the time, I was working for the government, but had taken the day off as contractors were taking part of my chimney down and replacing that part along with installing a stainless steel flue. It was not a pretty thing, the attack. It could have been worse as to the number of lives lost. I don’t know if I will ever get on an airplane again.

    I’ve always hated flying.  That year,  we were scheduled to take a Disney Cruise out of Florida.  Because of my terror,  we drove down there, and took the car train back! The car train is kinda grungy, and the closest we could get to home was some Virginia suburb of DC, so….😔  But thank you for mentioning this, and jogging my memory forward to the happy experience the next month:

    If you have a six year old, DO A DISNEY CRUISE!  I have never seen kids having sooooo much fun!  I’d like to think that for my daughter, the trip, which I was so scared to make, blew away some of the fear and sadness which had suddenly blocked out the light in her heretofore sunny  world.

    And one other thing: Disney should be in charge of security and crowd control everywhere.   Even immediately post 9/11 when all public places and transit were —somewhat belatedly! —struggling with new security measures, 3000 people got on and off that ship in, like,  15 minutes, and entry into the park  was handled with a light, deft touch, like “Gawrsh, is somebody a terrorist?  Let ol’Goofy  peek in that bag…naw, all good!”

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  7. MJBubba:
    I was at work.   The CADD guys came boiling out of a room full of workstations and went to the conference room to hook up the TV.   The whole office gathered and spent about two hours gaping at live coverage, until we were exhausted from shock and returned to work.

    I was hopeful that the event would educate America about the threat from Islam.

    W. Bush and Tony Blair both belong to Christian churches that had been corrupted by the Left.   They were naïve.

    I hope that’s all it was.

    Is it true, as we heard, that Bush arranged immediately to fly Bin Laden s family back to Saudi Arabia?  That  Air Force One and  whatever plane(s) they were on were the only flights in the air?  Um….how did they locate those people so quickly?  We never heard Bin Laden’s name, never heard of Al Quaeda, until after the towers fell.  But obviously, our government had.

    And what about the owner of that flight school in Florida, who reported to the FBI that he had some foreign guys enrolled who only wanted to learn to steer an airliner, but not how to land?  

    O Ratty, I am not a conspiracy theorist, I don’t think it was an inside job, or anything—but I would  like answers to all these questions.

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  8. New York Times: it was those detestable airplanes that did it.

    Update: The New York Times has now deleted this tweet.  Here is a screen capture. (2019-09-11 11:26 UTC)

    New York Times: “airplanes took aim”

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  9. Jojo:
    You commuted from the Poconos to Montgomery County??????? Yikes.

    …and if the wonderful, brilliant, ethical attorney with whom I was associated were  still in practice; if our office,  where  we and our secretaries did such good work in an atmosphere of contented industry, were still there—

    ….I would still be commuting!  A situation like that is not easy to find.

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  10. Mine actually started on 9/10.  I was flying from Portland to Cleveland with a stop in Cincinnati.  While at Cinci I pulled out my laptop to refresh my memory in the directions from the Cleveland airport to the hotel.

    Blue screen of death.  Laptop was broke.  Oh great!  Well, I’m supposed to spend tomorrow with one of my colleagues, helping to familiarize them with the system I was the guru for, so I’d just look over his shoulder.

    Next morning we take the laptop to the client’s mailroom, package it up and send it off to Rockville, MD (company HQ).  I would not see my laptop again for 5 weeks.  Kinda tough for a technology consultant.

    We heard about the first plane hitting just as we went into a meeting and everyone assumed it was a wayward plane accident.  When we came out of the meeting Hell had risen.  Nothing else got accomplished that day except everyone starting at the news on their computer screens.  I, of course, had to look over everyone else’s shoulder.

    We were “working” in the basement of one of the client’s buildings which actually served as the campus tornado shelter.  After about 30 min of watching the news it suddenly dawned on me that my wife might be trying to get in touch with me – looked at my cell, no signal.  So I went outside and got through to her.  She wasn’t worried (knew that I had landed safely the night before) but had been fielding all kinds of calls from friends and family – “Where’s TGA?”

    That night I drove from Cleveland to Columbus.  It was intensely eerie driving through downtown Cleveland and being one of about a dozen cars on the road.

    Long story short, I was stuck in C-bus for the next 10 days.  The weekend following – when I didn’t have any work to do and no laptop – was probably the loneliest I’ve ever been in my life.  After about the 3rd day I couldn’t watch the tv anymore because it was all the same, horrid news.  I found a church and attended a service Sunday – big evangelical mega-church.  Nobody even said hi.

    This morning I reflect on the fact that a child born today is chronologically as far from 9-11 as my birth was from Pearl Harbor.  So the children of today won’t, can’t understand the pain that we all felt.  I remember seeing a huge bunch of congress people on the steps of the Capitol, pledging their solidarity and support for the country and President.  I remember thinking to myself, “Wonder how long that’ll last.”  Turns out it wasn’t very long.

    So nothing profound, just relating my journey.  Thanx for bringing up the topic Hypatia.

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  11. John Walker:
    New York Times: it was those detestable airplanes that did it.

    Oh my God,  JW, I could almost wish I hadn’t seen this!  “Airplanes took aim”….it’s too much to bear.  And additionally: “more than 2000 people died”?  The death toll is well over 3000, wasnt it?   This awful wound to our country is being papered over.

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  12. And we wonder what’s up with “The Millennials”?  Well, 9/11 was their first experience with international events.

    And how did we  react?  We couldn’t see ourselves training them up in hatred and bigotry (like their Muslim contemporaries were being trained!) .  So the emphasis was on “understanding”.  Additionally, we wanted them to feel safe again, or rather, we wanted to feel safe again, so we used that as an excuse to play down continued danger.  It was just a freak occurrence engineered by a few outlaws, a few apostates from the “Religion of peace”.  “They’re not all like that!” 

    We gaslighted them!  Even I, though I was so furious about the Ramadan education issue, didn’t dare to berate and challenge the administrators of the Montessori school— they might ask me to withdraw her! And public schools being what they are up here, I couldn’t risk that.

    We, I reckon understandably, tried to eradicate fear in our children: fear is the enemy! (Uh, no, not really: radical Islam is the enemy….)  People marched around holding up signs “We are not afraid!” (No?  Then you must be a cretin..)    If we are afraid, then “the terrorists have won!” (Remember that?)

    Too Bad we didn’t realize back then that our well-Meaning attempts to focus on and villainize  “fear”, instead of fostering it as the important survival mechanism it is,  would lead twenty years later to the inability to even recognize an enemy, to stigmatize perfectly rational fear as some kind of mental illness!  Witness the obloquy heaped on Trump for his efforts, at last, to curb Islamic immigration,  to secure our borders!

    I guess we can’t blame the kids, can we?  No wonder that to them, he appears to be the enemy incarnate.

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  13. Hypatia:

    MJBubba:

    I was hopeful that the event would educate America about the threat from Islam.

    W. Bush and Tony Blair both belong to Christian churches that had been corrupted by the Left.   They were naïve.

    I hope that’s all it was.

    Is it true, as we heard, that Bush arranged immediately to fly Bin Laden s family back to Saudi Arabia?  That  Air Force One and  whatever plane(s) they were on were the only flights in the air?  Um….how did they locate those people so quickly?  We never heard Bin Laden’s name, never heard of Al Quaeda, until after the towers fell.  But obviously, our government had.

    Three days later, when commercial aviation had resumed, the Saudis sent a charter flight to several stops all around America, collecting relatives of the Saudi princes.  Bin Laden’s family was included.  They went home to Arabia, because they believed all the fearmongering about how American mobs were going to lynch Arabs.

    And what about the owner of that flight school in Florida, who reported to the FBI that he had some foreign guys enrolled who only wanted to learn to steer an airliner, but not how to land?  

    The 9-11 Commission heard testimony from him.   Their focus was on the internal firewalls that prevented FBI and CIA from sharing information.   The CIA had offshore intelligence about those students that was not available to the FBI guys who had received his tip.

    That was a key piece of the case for creating the Department of Homeland Security.

    O Ratty, I am not a conspiracy theorist, I don’t think it was an inside job, or anything—but I would  like answers to all these questions.

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  14. Great Adventure:
    This morning I reflect on the fact that a child born today is chronologically as far from 9-11 as my birth was from Pearl Harbor.  So the children of today won’t, can’t understand the pain that we all felt.

    Except that 9/11 was infinitely more documented than Pearl Harbor. I think the main issue is that  most people under 25 do not appreciate the pre-9/11 significance of the World Trade Center and lack personal connection . A very substantial fraction of Americans over 40 would have personally seen the World Trade Center if not actually been up to the top.

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  15. I was at work. I got a call from a colleague who said there was a radio report of a small plane hitting the World Trade Center.  He did not have access to a computer and asked me to check online. Internet service was very oddly slow eve for then. When I pulled up an image it was clear that it was much larger than a small plane.  He then told me that a second plane hit hit. We set up a TV/VCR unit in the office lobby. We had to improvise an antenna. The unit had only been used to play video tapes. Shortly after it was working, the first tower fell.

    One of our colleagues had a morning meeting scheduled at the World Trade Center so the mood was particularly gloomy. We did not hear from him until the afternoon. Apparently he got out of the subway station shortly after the first plane hit. When he realized what had happened, he immediately got back into the subway and went uptown.

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  16. A colleague leaned into my office to tell me a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  My first reaction was that he was pulling my leg.  But no, it was real, and several of us gathered in a conference room w/  CNN on the big screen.  In time to see the second plane hit, live.  And then watching the towers fall.  My wife and I had visited those towers, looked out over the city from their observation decks–it felt as part of me was being sliced off as the towers came down.

    My youngest was 1-1/2.  She doesn’t understand.

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  17. All day today,  I am wearing a handwritten note pinned to my shirt:

    “9/11/01: Did YOU forget?”

    It’s more conspicuous than a T shirt with slogan; nobody looks twice at those, but a huge adult woman with a big note pinned on her, now that’s  sump’n ya don’t see every day!

    just got back from the supermarket, which wasn’t very crowded, but two people stopped me and shared their memories.  Of course in my town, and at the shotgun range where I’ll be going later this afternoon, I’m kinda preaching to the choir with this message. Oh, and I’m also wearing my Trump 2020 hat.  I’m spoilin’ for a fight!  Maybe I’ll go to Walmart; it’s not unusual to see some hijabs there….

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  18. John Walker:
    New York Times: it was those detestable airplanes that did it.

    And here I thought “some people did something” but if the paper of records says planes did it, who are we to question that.

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  19. Vance:

    John Walker:
    New York Times: it was those detestable airplanes that did it.

    And here I thought “some people did something” but if the paper of records says planes did it, who are we to question that.

    They cause global warming too, Vance.

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  20. When I reflect upon the insane, nay suicidal, nature of our culture, I  cannot help but note the fact that the NYTimes – mouthpiece of the official lunacy – is perpetually erupting about white supremacy, whose total numbers of adherents in these (dis)United States can likely be measured in the hundreds or thousands. Further, white supremacy is a central tenet of no religion even slightly associated with Founding principles.

    By way of comparison, I do not recall the Times ever fretting about Islamic (and not Islamist) supremacy. One need not be an “Islamist” to believe in Islamic supremacy; it is an explicit and central tenet of the belief system = politics of Islam. This represents such a degree of cognitive dissonance as to be prima facie insane. Undoubtedly, my stating these facts (as a dhimmi-in-waiting) is more repugnant than the actual existence of these religious/political beliefs (they are inseparable) central to Islam.

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  21. I hiked up to the highest point in my town this morning. From this hilltop you can see the Freedom Tower where the WTC once stood. Since this spot had the best view of the WTC, people years ago put up a makeshift 9/11 memorial, with a flag that contains the names of all of the victims that died that day. On the ground was a small handpicked bouquet of flowers that was placed there earlier today . It has been 18 years but the anger and sadness still feels fresh.

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  22. Hypatia:
    We never heard Bin Laden’s name, never heard of Al Quaeda, until after the towers fell.  But obviously, our government had.

    Absolutely. I heard CIA Director George Tenet speak on the topic 6 months later at a lecture series in Naples and bought his book At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA.

    He knew immediately who was responsible; Bin Laden had been a target since the Gulf War. We discovered his plans of action long before 9/11 and were looking to assassinate him. He was found but WJC was busy on the golf course and refused to take action despite all the intelligence that suggested the horrible reality that was eventually realized. If the head of the snake had been severed in 1992, we could have saved American lives.

    I truly don’t know how the Clintons can live with themselves.

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  23. I remember watching and was constantly switching channels to see if the second tower had actually fell down. I wanted to believe that was not possible and hoping I had a bad camera angle.

    I reflect on all the heroism on that day. People gave a lot and some their last full measure.

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  24. I was making breakfast before going to work, and it just looked like a big fire.  At work, everyone was talking about it, but few people paid much attention-supervisors just told us to get back to work. [the same thing happened the day of the big Nisqually earthquake. When the building didn’t fall down around our ears, the supervisors just told us to go back inside and get back to work]

    In November of 2001, Ray and I flew back to New Jersey for his 25th high school class reunion, with no trouble.

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