10:00 am, Sept. 11, 2001 (harsh language)
About this time, five years ago, I was sitting in blissful ignorance playing a game of Diablo when the phone rang. It was Mom, calling from Atlanta where she had been for the last day or so for a business conference. She sounded almost hystercial, saying she had called "just to make sure I was okay". The hell I knew why - I figured at the time she had had one of those dreams where something horrible happens to someone you know (I wasn't thinking why that should be the case some 4-5 hours after she had woken up.) She said something to me on the order of "You don't know? Turn on the TV!" and I went out to the family room and did so.
Not good, I thought. Very not good.
In between calling my sister and father, doing the same kind of base-touching that so many others did that morning, I thought about what was going on. I wasn't shocked or outraged, more just with a kind of feeling of sick inevitability, that I knew this kind of thing was possible and (again, like so many) thinking that it was just too surreal to be happening.
I don't remember if I saw the towers collapse live; it's all blurry in retrospect and the things I remember most clearly are the (fortunately false) reports of a car bomb outside the State Department, and Lawrence Eagleburger asserting that we were at war and needed to find someone to bomb ASAP.
I recall I flipped back and forth between the coverage on CNN and that on BBC America until I had to go to bed around 12:30 pm or so. That night, I went to work at a subduded Wal-Mart, where understandably nobody felt like shopping. They played an audio feed of CNN over the PA system, including their coverage of the tape they had been sent of the first plane impact, complete with the "HOLY SHIT! Holy SHIT!!" of the cameraman. One of the very few amusing aspects of that night, considering where I was.
We all know the rest. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who cringed at the sound of jet engines for the next couple weeks. We all stood together, except for the ones who decided to shoot and/or harass anyone with "Middle Eastern" looks. Everyone supported Bush, except for those of us who knew goddamn well he would exploit what had happened. But we were "blame America first" types, of course.
And over the last five years we've found out so much about how they knew goddamn well that SOMETHING was up and that "the system was flashing red" and that Bush's expression that morning in the Emmy Booker classroom was not one of grimness (as they said on CNN this morning) but the expression of a student who's been told the test he's about to take counts for 50% of his grade, after he spent the night watching "South Park" instead of studying. One of "jeez, maybe I should have LISTENED closer".
They've milked this for everything they can. I sometimes think Bush can't open his damn mouth in public without mentioning 9/11 ("Please pass the 9/11 salt"). And are we safer? Hell, no! They'll CLAIM we are, at the same time they're willing to issue politically-motivated terror warnings and use the horror of that day as a defense of everything from national ID cards to the occupation of Iraq. And if it happens again? Well, they'll be hiding out in their bunkers the way they were five years ago, and innocent Americans will pay the price for their sociopathic international "policies" and then their corpses will be once again used by these amoral ghouls as "proof" of the need to invade Iran. Or whereever.
Al Qaeda is still "in business", bin Laden's still loose, the Taliban is slowly retaking Afghanistan, Iraq's the new terrorist training ground they claimed they didn't want it to become, the anthrax mailer's still loose (Remember?), modern-day Know-Nothing nativists like Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanan use the threat to justify their fear of dusky hordes of furriners, the Preznit's crapped all over not just domestic and international law but the Constitution, and the FBI seems more concerned with "security threats" from vegans and anti-war Catholics than real terrorists.
Five years and we've learned nothing except to be afraid. Well, fuck that. I was afraid for the first few days. Now I'm pissed. And I remember the 9/11 that really happened, not the fake sham "Bush as Hero" 9/11 the GOP and ABC and the warbloggers want me to remember.
The best way to commemmorate this anniversary is to remember not the self-serving assholes who looked at the burning towers and thought about how they could link this to Iraq, but to remember the construction workers, police, fire fighters, and EMTs who ran TOWARDS Ground Zero not because they were Americans but because they were HUMANS helping fellow HUMANS. The mere fact that they were located in region "A" instead of region "B", scribbles on a map, didn't matter. They saw people hurting and they responded the way any decent human would.
That's the legacy we should remember today.