12 Years Later, Let’s Stop Being Used

9-11-2011I shudder every time I am reminded that it is 9/11. For myself and many others, it is a flashback to that crisp September morning in 2001 when it seemed like time stood still for a couple confusing and terrifying days. Almost everyone who is old enough to remember that day remembers exactly what they were doing and where they were just as those who, like my father, remember where they were when Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Every year since that horrible day, we are subjected to a litany of pundits and televisions spots that have to remind us of it — and how “9/11 changed everything” — every time we get close to September 11th (which is my sister’s birthday, BTW). I don’t have a problem with observing the day as one of quiet remembrance for those who died, but I do have a problem with those who use it to rip the band-aid off our collective consciousness annually for TV ratings and War on Terror propaganda.

9/11 was probably the most historically gut-wrenching moment for anyone alive today. I’ll even go so far to say it surpassed Pearl Harbor due to the number of casualties and the fact television did not exist in many homes back in 1941, as it did 60 years later when we saw the footage of the Twin Towers collapse. Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a cult commune without access to the media for the past 12 years, you’ve probably seen the clip of the second passenger jet slam into the World Trade Center more times than you can count. I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is almost as if we as a nation have a collective case of PTSD from that day, and we do not need to have that wound opened up annually by the media.

Let me tell you my story of where I was that day and what led to my disgust with the way it panned out from there. I was working at a gym to put my way through college and I had just finished a workout on the treadmill when the first plane hit. Thinking it was a crazy accident by an amateur pilot, I headed to the showers before getting ready to head to class. I came out for one last look at the TVs before leaving, just in time to see the second plane hit. It was then that I knew something much bigger had happened, and I decided to go to my girlfriend’s house instead of class. We sat there that day and watched TV while listening to John Lennon as the National Guard base across the street went on full alert, and kids we went to high school with now stood with loaded M-16s next to Humvees. Within a couple days, the manager of the gym went full “patriot” and decided to hold a weightlifting competition which claimed to be designed to raise money for the Red Cross, but ended up being more about selling gym memberships than anything else. Then we as a nation handed over our freedoms and cheered as we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars in which we lost more members of our military (not to mention the deaths of the civilians in those countries) than we ever did on 9/11.

On that day, I knew it was just a matter of time before we went to war with someone — anyone — and I’ll admit I supported the invasion of Afghanistan (but not Iraq). I cheered when it was announced a couple of years ago that Seal Team 6 had killed Osama Bin Laden and his body had been dumped to the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

However, 9/11 was 12 years ago and whether it is military interventions in Syria or anywhere else, it’s time to give it a rest. We can be vigilant for possible terrorist actions without compromising the privacy of American citizens. We can be an international power without being the world’s police officer. We can remember those who died that day in September without being manipulated by politicians or the media to sign off on another war. It’s been 12 years, Bin Laden is dead, let’s stop being used.

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  • Pipercat

    I quietly display the flag that I bought on that very day for that very reason.

  • Paula Monroe

    I believe that if this had happened in another city there would not be the annual coverage. The provincialism of NYC shines through on this day.

  • Kat

    I could not agree with this article more. I was in my first week of high school on 9/11, and by senior year dozens of kids I’ve known since the 4th grade where ready to join the military. My older sister had already lost friends. With another possible war, the NSA, and all this other nonsense, I shutter to think of the world my nephew has been born into.

  • Cemetery Girl

    I remember that day. I have two memories that were so strong emotionally. I live in a fairly quintessential middle-America town. It has a town square and you always see people walking around. It also happens to be fairly close to two airports. Not close enough that planes are disruptive, but close enough that you tend to see a commercial jet if you look up and their are always the trails of the jets cutting across the sky. They’re just there always. I decided that I just needed to take my almost one year old child for a walk. As I pushed his stroller it was like a ghost town. There was no one around. No cars driving past, no semi-trucks heading to or from the factories. No one walking or in their yard. And the sky was clear. Not only was it cloudless, odd for our area, but the jet trails had dissipated. It was a clear, haunting moment that demonstrated that our country was in a dead stop. The second emotional remembrance was later that day I had to go to work. It was pointless because all anyone did was huddle around a TV with nonstop coverage if the carnage and lots of urgent explanations that no one really knows what is going on or why. The aspect that haunted me is the overwhelming sentiment by those around me that we as a country needed to attack anyone involved, or even possibly involved or even just from the same culture as anyone involved. The “lets make them pay” attitude was already beginning to build into the tidal wave it would become. I questioned exactly who do we attack since at this point there was just confusion. It didn’t matter, the desire for revenge wrapped in patriotism was rising. My fear was what would come next, not from some uncertain threat but from us.

  • I think we are still going through the process of learning what 9/11 was all about. People were killed needlessly here and the result was that people were killed needlessly abroad. The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the Mideast spring in 2011 and the Syrian crisis are all related in some way to 9/11 and its causes.

    9/11 is a day of honoring victims, particularly victims here, and it SHOULD be a day of contemplation as we try to individually and collectively understand the forces that brought on 9/11 and consider what is necessary to keep such tragedies from happening again. And I don’t mean destructive bandaids such as the Patriot Act; I mean what is necessary to stop the kind of hate and extremism that led up to 9/11 and that has followed it. And I don’t mean just Muslim extremism and hate; I mean hate and extremism here as well.

  • ally

    And what happened to Seal Team 6?