Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Five Years Later

I know I'm a day late (and a dollar short), but I did want to acknowledge the five year anniversary of 9/11. I agree that it was the defining event of our generation, in that "Where were you when JFK was shot?" kind of way.

On September 11, 2001, I was in El Regadi­o, Nicaragua. I listening to the radio and my ears perked up when I heard "all airports in the United States are currently closed." Well, it was in Spanish, so I really heard "todos los aeropuertos en los Estados Unidos estan cerrados." I thought something like "Why the fuck would all of theairportss be closed? This doesn't sound good." and turned on the TV to see if I could find out more. In Nicaragua, there's only one television channel, and they don't adhere to copyright regulations, so it happened to be broadcasting CNN En Espanol. I learned that an airplane had flown into one of the twin towers in New York City, and no one knew quite what was going on. As I watched the live broadcast, the second airplane hit, and at that point, everyone realized that what was happening was no accident. The United States was under attack. I watched TV all morning, trying to get more information, and then went and found the other American in town, my sitemate Paige, to see if she had heard yet. At this point, I knew that two of the planes had left from Boston, and I was nervous for my family, especially my father because he travels frequently. I was finally able to reach them by telephone later that day, and was relieved to find out that they were okay.

During the next week, all sorts of Nicaraguans expressed their sorrow and concern about the situation. Elderly farmers stopped by the house where I lived to tell me that they had heard about what happened in my country, that it was a terrible tragedy, and that they hoped my family and friends were okay. A taxi driver in Managua told me that he was a mercenary who had fought for Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega and could I please tell my President that he would offer his services for free to catch that bastard Bin Laden. Keep in mind that these people offering their sympathy have every reason to dislike the United States- they were Sandinistans whose spent ten years fighting in a civil war funded largely by our government. The nature of the attack when beyond old grudges or political differences. What they saw was an inhumane attack against thousands of innocent people, people just like them, going to work on an ordinary day. In the five years since, I think that's the saddest aspect of what has happened. At one point, we had the support, sympathy, and understanding of the entire world. Everyone (well, except for the perpetrators) was outraged by the events of 9/11. And instead of using that support and unity against an real enemy, our government squandered it, entering a foolish war in Iraq that has done nothing except stoke the fires that create terrorists, in addition to perpetuating a culture of fear here in the United States that lets them get away with it.

3 comments:

Mister Jinxy said...

I like how everyone gripes that we squandered the world's goodwill towards us after 9/11 when even the French beat their chest and proudly proclaimed, "We Are All Americans!"

Everyone's an American as long as we're getting our nuts bashed in. As soon as we rear up and begin to open up a case of the vengance whoopass, everybody starts going soft on us and gets weak in the knees.

Granted, I'm with you on the whole foolish sideshow in Iraq, but even if we had pulverized bin Laden and his smelly goat herders into a million little pieces with a couple of JADMS, people would still have found reason to find fault with us.

That's why I don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about what others think of me.

Mrs. V said...

I had taken the morning off to go to the dentist. While I sat in the chair the dentist kept disappearing while working on my mouth; he went out to his car to listen to his short-wave radio. When it came time to work on my tooth he had the drill in one hand and his ear to the radio, stalling for time, not wanting to begin drilling so as to not drown out the news report. He finally said he didn't want to be at work (working on my teeth, precisely) he wished he could go home. As I sat there with my mouth open I thought he would never begin drilling. It wasn't until I got home did I get a change to see on the TV what was going on. It was live and it was shocking and devastating. I called work and told my boss I was not coming in; it was just as well, they sent everyone home for security reasons since we are a Federal facility. No one was sure if it was safer to be on the roads or at work where we could be a possible target.

eileen said...

Touche, Jinxy. However, it would be easier to ignore the international bad press so much if I didn't agree with a lot of it.