Thirty-nine years ago Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke presented us with a future as expansive as the very heavens themselves. I will always remember the spectacular vision of the Pan Am spaceplane docking with the partially-finished double-doughnut-shaped space station. And who, having seen it, would ever forget the spaceship Discovery One, HAL the self-aware computer or the brave struggle between man and machine that ended with mankind’s first encounter with intelligent life outside of ourselves? The other part of this film that is unforgettable to this writer is the beginning, where a group of early hominids are examined by something that suddenly appears in their environment, and which gives to them the knowledge of good, the use of tools, and of evil — knowledge that they use to immediately transform those tools into weapons which they use to kill those in neighboring bands. Sorry to say, the real year 2001 wound up being a lot more like the beginning of the movie than the middle or the end.
Fast forward thirty-three years to a Tuesday, the eleventh day of the ninth month of that fateful year. Like almost every other day, I awoke early, just before 6am, and carefully crawled out of bed so as not to wake the wife, her last deadline of the year coming up fast and she deserved another hour of sleep. I turned on the machines and stumbled into the kitchen while they booted up and got a fresh glass of water, came back, sat down and fired up my browser, which opened with the MyWay home page, national news at the top.
A headline said “Breaking News” — that an airplane had flown into the North tower of the World Trade Center. I hustled myself into the front and turned on the TV literally just in time to witness live the second airliner impacting the South tower, a unique view of which is what you see in this video.
“F__K!” Sorry, sometimes “damn” just doesn’t say it hard enough!
It took mere seconds to comprehend that this was no accident, but some sort of deliberate act of mass violence. My first thought was Tom Clancy’s novel Debt Of Honor, in which a pilot flies a 747 into the Capital Building in DC. Thirty-five minutes later it was reported that another airliner had flown into the Pentagon. There was no doubt now, we were under some kind of coordinated attack by assailants unknown. Also unknown, how many attacks would there be? I was guessing to myself at least ten, possibly twelve. Thank God I was so far off on that estimate.
I went and woke my wife, telling her that she had to get up, that something of unimaginable horror was happening, that “You just can’t sleep through history being made!” We, like most Americans, indeed the entire world, sat in a state of almost stupefied disbelief as the rest of the day’s events unfolded on our screens. We felt the horror of those trapped above the impact points — hundreds of which, upon the realization that no help could get to them in time to be saved from being burned alive, chose the time and manner of their own deaths.
I kept thinking to myself, how are they ever going to put out those fires? How can those buildings ever be repaired? Just what is really going on? Minutes short of 1/2 hour after the South tower was hit, United Flight 93, the last non-responding aircraft believed to be headed back to DC targeted at either the Capital Building or the White House, crashed into a field in southwest Pennsylvania. Cell phone conversations from the passengers were being reported and they indicated that several of the men on the flight were going to rush the cockpit and try to subdue the hijackers. Their success cost them their lives. Their willingness to sacrifice all most likely saved many more lives.
Three minutes before that combined act of bravery on the doomed flight, the South tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, which we also watched in real time. The mental disconnect caused by seeing this awful catastrophe as it actually happened is even to this day impossible for me to fully express. “All those poor people!” my brain screamed at me, “Can anyone have survived that?” The news channels ran that footage again, and again — after having run the footage of the South tower impact, again and again. None of it got any easier to watch, that’s for sure. The reports from the ground were incredible in their bleak-nightmarish quality. People, caked in off-white dust milling around in shock after having been caught outside on adjacent streets. Video of the gigantic billowing plumes of debris fogging between the many buildings for blocks and blocks looked like something out of the film Independence Day — unfortunately, this was no Hollywood blockbuster — but real life, real death on a massive scale!
Seemingly on a macabre time frame of half-hour increments, twenty-nine minutes after the South Tower collapsed, its twin joined it in another display of horrific, unimaginable violence. The disconnect that I felt upon the first collapse was gone, replaced by a sheer draining, numbness bordering on total emotional withdrawal. And then — the anger started to kick in.
“Who did this to us? Where’s the President? Why didn’t we shoot the planes out of the sky? How many more? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?”
I know, I know — most of us were asking those same questions, many of which would be answered in short order. Over the next three days, in an unnatural silence caused by the grounding of all commercial and private flights nation wide, we saw any hopes fade of finding survivors in the smoldering pit that had just days before been the World Trade Center. The full story was being discovered, those responsible were being found out.
Nineteen men boarded the four planes, five each on American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 77, four on United Airlines Flight 93. Fifteen of the attackers were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon.
The group consisted of six core organizers, which included the four pilots, and thirteen others. Unlike many stereotypes of hijackers or terrorists, most of the attackers were educated and came from well-to-do backgrounds.
After the dust had all settled, after the debris that had once been the heart of International commerce was hauled away and sifted to find the most minuscule amounts of human remains — we as a nation vowed to “Never Forget!” From what happened on Capital Hill yesterday, and will again today, and is happening around the country in the Democratic presidential campaigns, 9/11 forgetfulness seems to be everywhere. One could give them the benefit of the doubt and say they probably believe that six years is long enough, that it’s time to move on, that bin Laden is too weak to matter. Funny that — Osama himself seems to be flaunting his strengthening control of al Qaeda with last week’s video release and another one scheduled for today. Even in the face of defeat after defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has not forgotten. He, and those like him hunger to repeat the carnage of that day! They wait — wait for us to relax our guard, wait for our malaise and short attention spans to allow for our telling ourselves that it won’t happen again, wait for the navel-gazers on the Left to force us out of our enemies’ part of the world, wait for the opportunity to hit us harder with true weapons of mass-destruction.
Life is so full of missed opportunities and disappointments. No, that’s not a negative view, it’s just pragmatic. As a young man, my most fervent hope for our society was to see in my lifetime our first real step toward the stars — lunar bases and missions to Mars and beyond. In 1968, this truly looked to be a possibility by the year 2001. Today we face a much different, more dangerous reality, see a much longer, darker timeline for mankind’s efforts toward advancement — if, in light of the caliber of our own upcoming leadership choices and the actions of the rest of the Western societies, we see any signs of our civilization’s future survival at all. The jury’s still out on that one.
Never forget . . .
Cheat Seeking Missiles
Rhymes With Right
Gates of Vienna
Not Ready for My Burqua
Common Folk Using Common Sense
David Rusin (PJM)
Right Wing Nuthouse
This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2007 at 12:15 am and is filed under A Future For Mankind?, A Post 9/11 World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed. | Print This Post | Email This Post
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