Part III of the series, which began with “That Dreadful Day.”
I mourn for the thousands of innocent people who were murdered on September 11th, 2001; the valiant first responders who ran into the disaster and perished; those who were injured physically and or psychologically; and the loss of America’s naiveté. We were so confident that nothing could harm us that it made the United States vulnerable. I mourn for the cockeyed hopefulness that has been consumed by paranoia and fear; the civil rights that have been stripped away by the so-called Patriot Act (which was recently extended); the members of our military and civilians in other countries who died or were injured by the continuing wars; the desecration of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols that harmed prisoners and placed our military at risk; and the waste of money, time, and effort. So much lost potential will never be recouped. The family and friends directly and the people indirectly affected by the terrible events of 9/11 and its aftermath continue to suffer.
I don’t remember much about September of 2001. My mouth gets dry, throat tightens, eyes tear up, and heart hurts every time I see the images of the towers being hit and crumbling, smoldering remains of the Flight 93 crash, and the torn Pentagon. I was employed at the American Red Cross, Minneapolis Area Chapter, arrived before sunrise and remained until after sunset well into October. We were open 24/7 for three weeks. My boss was concerned that I was working too much but I asked her, “What am I to do, sit in my apartment and fret?” I felt better by staying busy. I never had time or energy to attend the memorial events. My work assisted the survivors, family of victims, and first responders who were on the direct line. I didn’t have time to be sad, though in retrospect I wish that I had taken time to mourn.
Restaurants were kind enough to donate meals. I was profoundly grateful since didn’t have time to shop or cook meals. I especially remember the Holy Land Deli dropping off delicious food. Bigots had vandalized their store but the owner said that more kind people came to offer support than cause harm. He is a gracious person to forgive the fools who blamed all members of a religion for the actions of a few mislead zealots.
Minnesota is blessed with many people who want to others. Unfortunately, due to the nature of 9/11 it was not possible to send untrained people to the sites. The military took care of the Pentagon, unions took control of New York’s Ground Zero, and the local authorities and the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) were responsible for Shanktown, Pennsylvania. I knew several people who helped at each site. They were and continue to be deeply affected by their experiences.
Myriad Minnesotans were directly affected by the repercussions of the multiple tragedies. They had friends and family in New York, Washington, DC and on the Pennsylvania plane. The Red Cross helped to connect people who could not find each other. The debris of the falling towers displaced families and several came to Minnesota with few or no belongings. The Red Cross provided assistance for many people in a variety of ways for years afterwards.
In the ten years since that horrific day, 9-11, America is worse in many aspects. Fear and paranoia has given power to people who want to tear apart the government, aka Bitter Tea Party. The arrogance of George W. Bush and cronies squandered good-will from other countries; stole rights from the American people with the so-called Patriot Act; and, manipulated us into an unnecessary war with Iraq war. We are now hog-tied politically, economically struggling, environmentally battled, and spiritually drained. The pre-9/11 optimism has morphed into a bitter pile of bile perpetuated by negative media personalities and political pundits. We have accomplished more harm than four airplanes by trashing our democratic values, stripping government, empowering corporations, and being negative. Osama bin Laden must be laughing in his watery grave, he is winning because we wound ourselves more than the Al Qaeda minions ever could.
Every American has a duty to reverse this negative path. We can become strong again, not dominate, but have strength through peace. Don’t go along with the nasty rhetoric. Tell the mean-spirited politicians and media personalities that they are wrong. Vote for positive people. Boycott companies who advertise on negative media shows, and tell them why. You don’t have to be a Pollyanna and ignore the truth but at least hold onto optimism. Shake off the malaise and anxiety. Be thankful for those who help you and then help others yourself. You have a responsibility to be a good citizen of the world. It starts in your home and you are linked with every human on this planet. Be good to every person and prove the weak violent zealots wrong. Only the strong can maintain peace but it’s our only hope for survival.
Peace Be With You & The World.