The Nightmare of September 11 | Street Jazz

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Nightmare of September 11

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 11:14 AM

I wrote this a few days after the attacks on September 11, 2001. I still get chills when I recall how it took weeks to re-establish contact with a high school friend who worked in the Pentagon at the time. Tracy and I have a tape that we slipped into the VCR that night, and just recorded CNN for two hours - yet neither of us has ever wanted to go back and watch it. I offer up this old piece I wrote for the Ozark Gazette, because, well, I just can't let tomorrow go by without writing something.

The Nightmare of September 11

Try as we might, our conversations always seem to come back to the nightmarish events of Tuesday, September 11, when American airliners were turned into weapons to be used against thousands of innocent people. By now, we have seen all the graphic footage - multiple views of a plane hurtling into the World Trade Center tower, bodies flying through the air, and hopeful rescuers sitting quietly, sobbing.

And so we have found ourselves sharing the same world so many other countries have known for many years. It is a world of terror, and uncertainty, and confusion. We have long known that such a world existed. Many of us have even visited it, but we have always been able to return to the United States, which - minus the aberration of Oklahoma City - has
always seemed a fortress safe from the madness which so often reigns supreme in other lands. We were shown that our illusions of safety were just that - illusions. And we can never embrace those illusions again.

Those planes crashed not only into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but into every household in this country. Is there a heart among us that isn't carrying shards from that terrible disaster? For many of us, the past days have been an agony of waiting, as we sought information on friends and loved ones. For those not touched by association with the
victims, there is still the horror of seeing fellow human beings meet such a terrible fate. We watch with eyes and hearts not yet numbed to the pain of those relief workers in New York City braving the choking air, the physical danger and their own tears as they search for survivors.

In the play, "The Andersonville Trial," the prosecutor, Colonel Chipman, says that in this life, "we cling to our humanity by our fingernails." Those who committed these ugly acts of mass murder fled from their own humanity long ago. For the rest of us, the task is daunting - to grip the sides of that precipice with even greater determination, and pull ourselves over the edge, and embrace our lives, and the lives of others.

Sad to say, some use tragedies like this as an excuse to reveal their rancid bigotry, believing that, somehow, events have given them carte blanche to do so.

The people using this week's nightmare to justify their hatred of those from the Middle East, and acting on that hatred, betray everything this country stands for. I'm not sure what country they think they are defending, but it sure as hell isn't mine.

Ozark Gazette - September 17, 2001   


rsdrake@nwark.com

 

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