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9/11 + 5

This day just sucks.

I was at Ground Zero yesterday, for reasons that had nothing to do with the anniversary. I stood there looking at what Ray Nagin had accurately (if artlessly) referred to as a big whole in the ground, and it seemed emblematic of the lack of progress we've seen over the past five years, on many different fronts.

A camera crew from Voice of America came to interview me and a couple of other people about 9/11. For once in my life, I had nothing to say. That didn't stop me from blabbing on and on with some vapid nonsense, but I felt like there was nothing I could possibly say that would be appropriate. As an American who lived in Manhattan through 9/11, how can you possibly compress your experience of the past five years into a 10-second sound bite? Our words were also to be translated into Farsi and broadcast in Iran. My big chance to speak to the Iranian people and I just felt as empty as Nagin's hole in the ground.

This anniversary recalls not only that one awful morning, but previous anniversaries as well. September 11, 2002 was a strange and eerie day. I attended a memorial service along the Hudson River that morning, and just as we were observing a moment of silence marking the time of the first impact, a strong gust of wind came off the river and blew over a commemorative wreath and several sprays of flowers. The winds continued for the rest of the day, and on my walk home I had to detour around a police barricade surrounding the new AOL/Time Warner towers. Some building material had been dislodged by the winds and killed a pedestrian walking below.

The second anniversary began as a normal workday, but our building observed a moment of silence at the time of the impacts. For sixty seconds, everything was quiet in the entire building, except for one guy seated near me. He was visiting from Germany, and continued blabbing away on the phone in loud German even after the moment of silence had been announced. I wanted to punch him.

The third and fourth anniversaries sort of blend together in my head, but five years is a milestone that encourages a bit more reflection than the others. This isn't an easy anniversary for me, and I'm not sure that they'll get any easier as we move further away from the events of that day.

I see photographs of people in the newspapers, then and now. I read about there stories and how their lives have changed for better or for worse. We've all seen these human interest stories a thousand times... but something is different about them now. For the first time, I have observed that the people in question are noticeably older.

It wasn't yesterday anymore. And for reason I can't exactly explain, there's something profoundly disturbing about the new strands of gray and the new lines around the eyes that comprise the tell-tale physical manifestation of the fact that September 11 is slipping away from us.

And why is it bad to have more distance between us and a national nightmare? I don't know. Like I said, I can't explain it. But the only thing I can compare it to is seeing the frail, aged survivors of the Holocaust or Pearl Harbor, and watching their numbers grow fewer and fewer every year. As horrible as those events were, there is something frighteningly sad about seeing these people disappear. Soon the day will be upon us when no one alive will remember either. When that happens, something huge will be lost to us.

Today, I realized that this long, gradual, drifting away has already begun for the events of a clear September morning that still seems like yesterday to many of us, even though it was not. So no, I'm not sure future anniversaries will be any easier.


I noticed the distance in a weird way this year. Up through last year, I kept remembering the day. How it had been such a beautiful September morning. And I remembered walking from lower Manhattan to my uncle's in mid-town. And I remembered being afraid, not so much of what had happened, but what the future would hold.

And this year? Up till today, it sort of felt like the future is here, and the past is blurring. I don't think it's a bad thing necessarily. I don't think you can live on such tenterhooks without severe consequences to your sanity.

Then today dawned. And it's pretty much all I can think about. It probably doesn't help that today feels very much like then. So I think a lot about the day will be easier, but other parts? Will feel like it was yesterday. And that's probably not a bad thing.

Thank You

I posted an angry sort of diatribe, but the truth is, I feel more like a blank canvas than a full text today. I feel like the future is coming up on me with a vengeance and the past is worn out. I feel like the symbols have become pretty empty and tend to threaten us more than enliven us now.

Maybe I'm just getting old.

It occurred to me that some may not understand the significance of the graphic I posted.

Engine 40 - Ladder 35 is the Amsterdam Ave, 66th St. firehouse. They lost 11 guys on 9/11.

To me, the sadness is in how a minor human tragedy was hijacked and desecrated into a real tragedy: the senseless murder of hundreds of thousands, all to further the neocon goals of absolute political power funded by overflowing Corporate profits at the expense of common, hardworking people.

This is the anniversary of Bush's Gift.

Speaking of "human tragedy" and the "murder of hundreds of thousands..."

Lesley Stahl (referring to Clinton administration policy on Iraq): "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."

-- CBS 60 Minutes, May 12, 1996

Saddam Hussein had plenty of money to feed and care for those children. He built palaces instead.

Bush I failed to remove Hussein. Reagan ignored terrorism after 200 marines died in their barracks.

It's Clinton's fault,
it's Clinton's fault,
everything is Clinton's fault!


BH: "Saddam Hussein had plenty of money to feed and care for those children."

Gee...don't go all weepy over the deaths of 500,000 children there Bailey!

"It occurred to me that some may not understand the significance of the graphic I posted.

"Engine 40 - Ladder 35 is the Amsterdam Ave, 66th St. firehouse. They lost 11 guys on 9/11." (WF)

Engine-40 & Ladder-35 a good firehouse WF, I knew a Lieutenant (Mike Fitzgerald) who used to work there. He worked with me in Ladder-44 in the Bronx, before he went there. GREAT guy!

There were a lot of tales of entire fire Units getting wiped out that day.

Engine-54 & Ladder-4 (46th St & 8th Ave)...lost 15 members from that firehouse including the Chief in the Battalion-9 and his aide.

Rescue-5 from Staten Island lost 11 men, Ladder-105 from Brooklyn lost seven and HazMat-1 & Squad-288 lost nineteen men (eight from Squad-288 and eleven from HazMat-1) giving that firehouse the dubious distinction of losing the most members from any firehouse that day.

"To me, the sadness is in how a minor human tragedy was hijacked and desecrated into a real tragedy: the senseless murder of hundreds of thousands, all to further the neocon goals of absolute political power funded by overflowing Corporate profits at the expense of common, hardworking people.

This is the anniversary of Bush's Gift." (BH)

As usual, whether we're talking about market forces or the War on terrorism ( WoT), you just don't get it.

The real "sadness" is that it took the events of 9/11/01 to get us engaged in the WoT...a war that had been relentlessly waged by the forces of global jihadism and their rogue state supporters since, at the very least, 1993.

Bush has killed more of our soldiers, along with over a hundred thousand innocent civilians in other countries.

I think we have more to fear from Bush than terrorists, who are really no more than loosely organized criminals.

There is no war. There is no opposing army. It's all bullshit and scare tactics.

OK, yet another typo BH!

Bush himself has never actually killed any of our soldiers. I don't believe he has a single "confirmed kill."

It's tough to kill people in Iraq and Afghanistan from places like Washington, D.C. and Crawford, TX.

I've heard that he's not that good a shot. Then again, who is?!

Now if you mean "sent to their deaths," that's again, a very poor wording, though that's not what you said...I mean typo'd.

Iraq violated thirteen consecutive UN Security Council Resolutions, before the "last chance" SC Resolution 1441 was passed.

It was 18 MONTHS past 9/11...eighteen months of non-stop negotiation by both the UN & the U.S., before America, Britain, Spain, Poland, Italy, Japan, Australia....pretty much everyone except France, Germany, Belgium and Russia moved to enforce 1441 on a recalcitrant Iraq.

I guess you could argue that UN SC Resolution 1441 sent all those troops and "innocent Iraqis" to their deaths...or more aptly that "the UN sent them to their deaths," since without 1441 Iraq wouldn't have been invaded in the first place.

But to be fair, the world had demanded WMD inspections for Iraq, so the UN was simply doing the bidding of the greater world community.

What Bush understands that Michael Moore and his minnions (like yourself) DON'T is that (1) the American criminal justice system is inadequate to dealing with state sponsored international terrorism and (2) the military option requires a nation or nations asthe enemy.

That's the genius of "the Bush Doctrine," which, in effect, puts America at war with any and ALL nations that harbor, sponsor and/or support international terrorism.

It allowed the military option to be used....and since BOTH the criminal justice and the diplomatic options had failed, it was the last option available to us.

The "Bush Doctrine" is that King George will justify invading any country where he feels he can score a nice profit for his gang of traitors and criminals, and then create a Rube Goldberg device to somehow tie his criminal actions back to 9/11, thereby making it OK.

When do we invade Pakistan? They have agreed to allow Bin Laden & Co. to live and operate from their sovereign soil. Pakistan is harboring terrorists.

The Bush Doctrine is just more bullshit.

OK, so you understand "the Bush Doctrine" about as well as you understand markets, which is to say, not at all.

Pakistan is harboring terrorists. When do we attack?

Do you have any proof?

That is proof that Pakistan's Musharef government is harboring terrorists, and not the majority of increasingly radicalized Pakistani Muslims civilian and military personnel are harboring terrorists.

There's good and bad news with countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - the bad news, of course, is that both countries have a large and growing population of radicalized Muslim fanatics (Islamo-fascists), the good news both for those governments and for us, is that (1) it binds us to defending those governments (Musharef and the Saudi Royals), while also binding them to us.

We need to put similar governments in place in Afghanistan, Iraq and ultimately Iran and Syria as well.

Why we got away from supporting the "better our thuggish dictators than their own home-grown thuggish dictators" policy is beyond me.

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