Remembrance of Things Past

I'll never forget a world where I could get on an airplane without a stranger in another room seeing me naked while the stranger in front of me inspects the shoes I have removed.

As the world knows, eleven years ago today, several people with hearts full of hate truly introduced America to the type of terrorism that much of the world knows on a day-to-day basis, writ on an unimaginably large scale. Thousands died that day, and hundreds of thousands more in the aftermath.

Each year on the eleventh of September, the internet is buried under semi-opaque pictures of American flags waving defiantly over twin towers which no longer exist. "Never Forget" is often emblazoned on these photos, a statement of nationalism, of a wound that won't heal, of pride and love and fear and hate, of ten years of war and untold wars to come.

And I worry.

I worry that we don't realize that we have not yet won this "war on terror," and in fact we are still on the losing side. I worry that we don't realize how deeply we have allowed our attackers to take from us, and what we have given up to prevent them from taking more.

I worry that this blind patriotism - this instinctual, collective coming together, rallying behind the flag and the fires of vengeance that still burn in our hearts and in our military - blind us to the thoughtful reflection and painful decisions we must undertake to determine who we want to be as a nation. I worry that so long as we have aggression and war as the forefront of our national identity, we serve only to strengthen the resolve of those who would do us harm.

So, I ask you, what does "Never Forget" mean to you? How do you envision our new nation?

I'll never forget a world where I could get on an airplane without a stranger in another room seeing me naked while the stranger in front of me inspects the shoes I have removed. I'll never forget a world where we didn't look at people with skin somewhere between black and white as inherently threatening in public. I’ll never forget a world where I didn’t need a passport to go to Canada, or where there was not a “Department of Homeland Security.”

And I'll mourn the fact that my daughter will never remember the same.

Aside from the lives of those who were killed on that sunny September Tuesday, this is the true loss of 9/11. We are now raising a generation who thinks its "normal" to be analyzed by strangers, to be reviewed as a threat, to not have to worry about your internet searches or library history living in the bottom of a government computer in the event they combine to identify them as a terrorist. That this, to them, *is* freedom.

What then, will you remember?

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UglyHat September 11, 2012 at 07:16 PM
I’ll always remember the fear I felt for the people who thought it better to jump from the towers than to wait inside. I’ll always remember the respect I have for those that went in when everyone else wanted only to get out. I’ll always remember the sympathy and angst I felt for the people of flight 93 that knew they had to do something, and that it would probably be the last thing they did. I’ll always remember the respect I have for those that volunteer to fight on my behalf, for my freedom. I don’t like a lot of the so called security solutions we’ve used since that day either. But that is not what I remember today.
Chris L. September 11, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I will remember that I was on active duty in the Navy, and I had just transferred off of a ship 2 months before... I was working to install network infrastructure at Naval Station Norfolk(Virginia). We were installing a microwave transmitter on the roof of a warehouse when we were told to get down off the roof and go back to the office. On the way back...we passed Humvees and tanks, with Marines in full battle-dress, rushing toward the gates. Within minutes, every gate to the largest Navy base in the world was covered by barbed wire, jersey barriers, and had a Humvee and/or tank, with guns trained outward. I remember driving home, being the only car on the road, and how odd that was for a Tuesday afternoon. I remember every able ship in the area being sent out to sea that day as a security measure, then months later, the same ships being sent to the Persian Gulf. It wasn't until I got home from base that night that I saw the full effect of what was going on. I was upset that I was stuck behind in Norfolk while just about everyone else I knew would be going over to the Gulf while I stayed behind. Little did I know that when it was my time to go back to a ship in late 2004, I'd still have the opportunity to support OIF/OEF.
Deb September 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Chris - Thank you for your service to our country!
Scum Of The Earth September 12, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I will always regret that Bill Clinton did not have the courage and intestinal fortitude to put Osama out of his misery when he had the several chances that he had to do so. Instead he waffled, and we know the rest. No fan of Obama here, but give the man credit, he did it and did it right and he had no qualms or hesitation about it.
Shannon Pataky September 12, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I remember the silence that followed for two weeks. everyone was so quiet, and small talk wasn't part of the agenda. It seems the silence didn't brake until that sunny Saturday 2 weeks later. I was at a cookout celebrating a childs birthday. It was one of those "all american" neighborhoods, where the trees were still young and not everyone had a fence up to seperate the back yards yet. You could see all the cookie cutter houses and the biggest bluest empty sky. As I sat drinking my soda I looked up to see the first airplane I had seen in 2 weeks. The last one I saw went into the side of a building. At that moment, the sound came back. The kids where yelling, the music was playing. Small talk was starting around the grill. I don't know if I was deaf for two weeks, or if we all just needed that normallcy back, but my strongest memory of 9/11 was two weeks later, when the sky wasn't empty anymore and the country started to live again.


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