Saturday, September 22, 2012

Remembering 9/11

... 11 Years and 11 Days Later

We pause today to remember the September 11 attacks on our nation, to honor those who lost their lives in the attacks, and to commend those who continue to fight to protect our country. -- Center for American Progress, 9/11/2012

CEE sent me the above link to the Center for American Progress. In my reply, I said, "Healing takes time. We will be stronger as a Nation, eventually. God bless us all." 24 hours later, this news rocked me:

  U.S. Ambassador to Libya 

Killed by Terrorists on 9/11 

I reflected on my thoughts about healing and I remember thinking, "What a blindly simplistic and overly optimistic comment."

I can't take that thought back and wouldn't even if I could. I put it out there for a reason. But I do wonder whether I will ever feel that way again. Look at all the violence and anti-American rage that has spilled out at our diplomatic outposts around the world. Has all of the progress made in Iraq and Afghanistan been erased by a single 14-minute video?

Perhaps 9/12/2012 hit me hard because 9/11/2012 had been a very emotional day for me.

  • For starters, the weather Tuesday was eerily similar to that of Tuesday 9/11/2001: clear blue, cloudless skies, and crisp fall temps. Hauntingly beautiful! 
  • I had a meeting at 9:30 and I announced that my intention was to observe a moment of silence at 9:37. Everyone readily agreed, and when my wristwatch alarm sounded, they joined in. 
  • In the afternoon I went to the Pentagon for our annual ASA, M&RA / DCS, G-1 9/11 memorial service. I felt like I was attending the reunion of my second family. There were somber moments, but there was also joy of rekindling old friendships and other signs of healing. 
  • I studied the memorial at the end of Corridor 4,  looked at the graphic of the flight's deadly path hanging outside LTG Maude's old office, and visited the chapel and touched the piece of glass I placed in one of the stained glass windows. 
  • I also attended the DoD 9/11 memorial service in center Courtyard. Hon Panetta spoke and his delivery was strong and powerful. I admire his leadership style. 
  • After returning home I changed into riding clothes and rode up to Patriot H-D for the group ride to the Pentagon Memorial. At PHD, I enjoyed seeing my friends, new and old. We talked business, and made big plans, and had a great ride to the Pentagon. 
  • During the ceremony, the names of all 184 victims were read in groups of 10. Interestingly, the groups were not alphabetical. The names of my friends were interspersed in such a way as to shock me when I heard them.  
  • After the ceremony at the memorial, I took pleasure in serving as a docent / tour guide, explaining the memorial's design to many, and sharing my stories about some special people.
  • I stopped at a favorite restaurant in Old Town to treat myself to a late dinner on the way home, feeling fine.

That's when things began to take a twisting turn for the slightly more complicated. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the US Consulate in Benghazi was under attack....

JLD contacted me with this poignant 9/11 thought, still before the new attacks were in my awareness. 
I wonder very much these days if our efforts over the past 11 years will be seen as worthy, effective, responsible, in light of the heavy responsibility for justice and security we were handed on that day 11 years ago.  
To which I replied
You pose a good question. We can wonder whether the world is better, whether our Nation is stronger, or whether our children are safer in this post 9/11 age so much of our creation. Hard to say, but one thing is sure: we cannot roll back the clock. We have to flow forward.

Again, simplistic in hindsight...

Later, two other friends,JL and MWR, independently challenged my traditionalist view of what "really"happened  on 9/11. Both point to evidence of an inside job with conspiracy theory videos and other evidence that is making the rounds.

Part of me wants to dismiss any conspiracy theory out of hand. Hey, I was there, I know what I saw. But another part of me wants to at least understand the allegations. I watched this video with an open mind: Mysterious Deaths of 9/11 Eyewitnesses. I have to admit, the mysterious deaths of so many people who might know something counter to the shared, traditional story of 9/11 is beyond coincidence.

I awoke on 9/12 to the news of the brutal death of our Ambassador to Libya and the looting of our Embassy in Tripoli and our Consulate in Benghazi late in the day on 9/11. I realized that balance has not yet been restored.

Of the murderous rampage, my friend JB said
RIP Ambassador Christopher Stevens and 3 yet to be named American embassy staff (most certainly Diplomatic Security Service protection agents) that were killed in Libya. I hope our country STRONGLY responds to this senseless act of violence. This country has not lost an ambassador to violence/terrorism since 1979. Let us not forget that on a daily basis, thousands of American citizens work on our behalf at Embassy and Consulate posts around the world.... 
To which I replied

May the perpetrators rot in eternal damnation. May the force of our strong response deter any future attacks. May 9/11 remain as a day to remember, reflect, and renew, rather than as a day for crackpots to take a swipe at us when we are grieving.

Now, I am not proud of this display of raw emotion. But I am proud of being human and of giving a damn, so I will not retract the comment.

BF cynically added

There will be no response because this administration is WEAK.. Obama will not even address it.. But he will have a press conference on contraceptives this afternoon. We are all screwed.. Literally ! For goodness sake NBC didn't even acknowledge 9/11 yesterday.. While other networks covered the solemn commemoration of the first plane striking the World Trade Center on Tuesday, NBC's "Today" show aired Kardashian family matriarch Kris Jenner talking about her breast augmentation.

and I said

BF, that's not disappointing, it's actually disgusting. Thank you for speaking up about it.

I spent time with my daughter the night of 9/12 in our annual ritual of remembrance and respect. With lit red, white, and blue candles we sat near the water and read the names of my 29 co-workers who died. Our memorial was simple and beautiful. Yet, even as I strive to instill in my daughter the values of respect for life and strength in the face of hatred, I have to wonder--what kind of world am I building for her? I noticed that my confidence in the future had changed between 9/11 and 9/12.

    Forgive me, but.... 

    Even 11 days after 11 years after 9/11, I do not believe the world is any better than it was 11 years and 12 days ago. We are not re-balanced. We are not re-aligned. We are not healed. Health, happiness, and prosperity is not a universal human trait but a privilege enjoyed by a shrinking minority at the expense of a growing and increasingly hostile majority. My mission, and the mission of every parent  with a heart, head, and hands is to postpone Armageddon as long as possible.

    But how? Give in to demands for global Sharia? Pull back from our global diplomatic engagement and outreach? Abandon our strategic military alliances and focus on domestic issues? Watch the Kardashians, and pretend everything is hunky-dory?

    None of the above!

    Here is my prescription: We need the kind of tolerance for and acceptance of other points of view that can only come from education and awareness. We need to show dignity and respect for all people, even those whose values are very different from ours. We must also demand the same awareness and respect from others.

    "Justice is a two-edged sword."