Ten Years Gone By: Reprise
September 11, 2011 § 1 Comment
Today I sit in New York City. A collective remembrance throughout the country. I flew in on Thursday, for business sans pleasure. Greeted with heightened security, a bag check, and a pat down while the RELIABLE and SPECIFIC, yet UNCONFIRMED threat loomed. 3 guys in a truck. Really? Landscapers everywhere panic. But you can’t blame them, New York is still fighting the war on bedbugs, extra caution is expected. Most locals are sick of hearing it, year to year, eager to move on. Most of us are happy to move on. Below is a post I wrote right after “we got him!” I think its appropriate on this day that we remember, but not get carried away. Safe travels everyone.
During my Monday morning commute, courtesy of my car-radio the sounds of Jimmy Hendrix in his dazzling version of the National Anthem swam a triumphant lap through my speakers. The news broke on Sunday evening, but I learned though a text message. Upon returning to my home I promptly googled the president’s address and watched it streaming in full. This modern technology less captivating than the memories transporting me back through the past ten years. The internet is no match for the time machine of my mind.
We all remember that day, that exact moment we learned of the worm in our big apple that would surely destroy it. Second period English class, a senior in high school, fresh off my very first visit to the big city. I was just there. I was just standing in those streets weeks before, falling madly in love with the idea of metropolis. New York was greater than the greatest mountain I had ever seen, more remarkable than the Grand Canyon, a working machine more impressive than the human body, the Twin Towers vital organs. And now, system failure. Then the whole world stopped to watch it fall.
Over the next couple years, the war began. First semester of college my roommate and I dormed up in our 12×12 foot sanctuary of youth watched the coverage relentlessly. The night vision green glow of bombs exploding onto a land half a world away in the name of freedom and retaliation. What if that was happening in my world? What if that was happening to the people I knew? Is it worth the risk? My collegiate bleeding heart would eventually have enough and I would force myself to change the channel. Just one button turned off the horror, just one button in a growing world of buttons.
It wasn’t soon before the revulsion jumped directly into my backyard. A childhood friend, not even of legal drinking age in this country was being sent out to defend it. He visited us on in our save-haven of university, not wanting to discuss, but enjoy his last blissful ignorance before uncloaking the war in that far off desert before his own eyes. We partied and laughed as I chased around hockey players and made jokes about my shortcomings. What else could I say? We toasted to our young adulthood, or latent adolescents depending how you looked at it.
Thankfully, he returned to us, unable to speak about such things. Corralled in a winter’s blanket of supporting peers, we didn’t pry, we celebrated. Although, the celebration was short lived, this war was still being fought. No sooner was he safe, would he be shoved back into harms way again, and I relocated briefly to the scene of the crime.
I arrived in New York City to spend the summer discovering myself, dancing about to acquire the confidence to break out of my mid-western mitten of warmth and security. The nightmare of September 11th was still on everyone’s lips. Hearing the stories of first hand accounts, eyewitnesses, the fear and the sadness. All I could do was listen, sympathize and try to understand the tattoo of that day this city, our country, will wear forever.
The comedic propaganda began ushering in at an all time high. Before the 2004 presidential election, Team America blasted into theaters as the ultimate fight song for a new generation. A generation getting their world news from opinion blogs and satirical news shows, forming their governmental views out of jokes. It had gone on for so long now it was starting to feel like a joke. A sick joke, not one to yield laughter. From the seven minutes spent reading a children’s book to the recount in Florida on a flawed system, to the removal of shoes and foreboding of all liquids, knitting needles, and tweezers to change air travel, trading in freedoms for security. And what of the rumors about oil and misguided intentions for the war on terror, the national deficit, and Homeland security. All of it bedding pulled over the monumental reconstruction of the New York Skyline. What was going on here? Someone tell me the punch line because still, I just don’t get it.
My friend came back safely from his second tour in Iraq. And last winter, years later, in a drunken spell we finally discussed the emotional impact, the lasting impression, his luck, and his bravery. While I was growing into a modern woman, he was fighting for my right to become one. He was fighting for me, along side so many others, so many others who did not return. How can this be fair? How can this be worth it?
In the recent years, at moments, I’d forget what exactly was going on in the part of the planet that was awake while I slept. I’d be shaken by calls from friends waiting for their significant other’s deportation disturbed to the core of a detrimental outcome. I’d be shaken at the thought of the billions of dollars spent on this war while watching the economic crisis crush the country and filing my own unemployment claim. Every time, brought back to the moments of the first blast, then the second, then the panic. The moments that began to redefine my generation beyond dot coms and chat rooms.
Years after the Band-Aid has been removed, the wound will still hurt. And I can’t help but think about how much went into killing one man. Or how the death of that one man could increase the size of the target on our backs. Ten years, just months shy of that decade anniversary we are delivered with retribution. However, I beg, the sweetness of this revenge cannot repair our foreign affairs, strengthen our economy, reform our health care, decrease unemployment, or rebuild the world trade center. I suppose the question on my lips now, was this moment worth the toil of these ten years gone by? Or is it just a precursor to the next decade we must endure?