9/11 Revisited

September 11, 2002

Exactly one year has passed since the awful terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. According to a Fox News report on Monday, September 9, some 2,801 people were killed in the World Trade Center attacks in New York City, but only 1,400 bodies have been identified. 1.6 million tons of debris have been removed from Ground Zero, the 16-acre site of the World Trade Center, in an operation requiring 3.1 million man-hours of labor at a cost of 750 million dollars. The cleanup was completed in late May, three months ahead of schedule.

In addition, 184 people died when the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. was attacked by suicide hijackers. Another 40 lives were lost when the hijacked Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The effects on the economy, especially the aviation and tourism industries, compounded the recession which was already underway before September 11. The collapse of Enron didn’t help matters any.

Airports have tightened security considerably. A new government office, one of Homeland Security, has been created. Our country has gone to war in Afghanistan and has largely defeated the al-Qaeda terrorist stronghold in that country.

A lot has happened since “9/11,” as the event has come to be known, and now people are looking back at that day and how it has affected our lives. Memorial observances are planned in various cities in the United States and around the globe.

The sign at the Janesville Mall currently reads, “We Remember 9/11/01.” Another sign, at the nearby Big Lots store, echoes with “9/11/01—God Bless Those We Lost.” A sign at a local church silently proclaims, “God is Good, God is Great—We Remember 9/11.”

Radio and television news reports have been largely devoted to 9/11 and the remembrance of it. Many people complain that they are tired of hearing about it, and I partly agree. We need only to reflect on what happened that day, learn from it, find closure (if any can be found), then carry on—wiser and more vigilant—with our lives. That is exactly what President Bush said we should do, immediately after the attacks.

Psychologists say that dwelling on the pain and sadness of such a colossal tragedy is unhealthy and may hurt us in the long run.

A poll conducted by the Associated Press showed that many people favor making September 11 a national holiday. Most of these are young people between the ages of 8 and 18. I disagree with them—as one person put it, it would end up like Memorial Day and Veterans Day: “It’s 9/11; let’s go to the beach.” Just like Pearl Harbor, this day is not to be celebrated but held in infamy.

Certainly a lot of good came out of 9/11. America became stronger and more patriotic. Nevertheless, the terrorist acts committed that day are no less brutal or tragic now than when they first occurred.

My Reactions Last Year

When I first heard the news of the attacks, I sat in front of the television in utter shock and disbelief for the first two hours, unable to do anything. Like many other people, I was dumbfounded—unable to carry on with life as usual. The unspeakable—no, the unthinkable—had just happened.

These events came only eleven days after the death of my father, following a two-year battle with stomach cancer. My only consolation was that Dad didn’t have to see this. If he had lived to see the terror attacks, the stress may have finished him off.

I had been busily working on our website when the attacks occurred. The first thing I did, once I regained my composure, was to post a special Home page with a black background, briefly describing the attacks and related events.

When the normal Home page reopened, I posted a donations banner from CoffeeCup Software so that people could donate money to help the attack victims. Later I added the Unity Ribbon link, which is still displayed on the Oo Kingdom Home page. When we went to war in October, I wrote the Wartime Reflections page.

The donations banner was removed after a few months, and Wartime Reflections was deleted on March 31, 2002.

Steve Ackerman wrote a set of poems about the attacks shortly after they occurred last year. They were hosted on this site for several months before being moved to his new site. Read them at this site.

A Footnote

Congress approved a joint resolution on December 18, 2001, authorizing and requesting the President to designate September 11 of each year as “Patriot Day.” President George W. Bush proclaimed September 11, 2002 as Patriot Day on September 4 of this year. It is to be observed “with appropriate ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services and candlelight vigils.” The flag is to be flown at half-staff, and a moment of silence is to be observed at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks.

This proclamation was made with the best of intentions. I, and many others, believe it is being overdone this year. A week or more of excessive media and classroom coverage is not necessary—only a day of solemn remembrance. On the other hand, I hope and pray that Patriot Day doesn’t someday become just another day of picnics, parades and parties.

As for the influence of 9/11 on The Oo Kingdom, I missed an important one in an unlikely place: “Dates in our history” in Ummamum’s Almanac (which has since been discontinued). The sixth event listed there read thus:

The world changed forever September 11, 2001 which was 365 days ago

Some argue that the world hasn’t really changed very much; for most people, it’s business as usual. This may be true, but some things are different. Americans are more patriotic now. People are more aware of the ever-present terrorist threat, both here and abroad. Our armed forces are on high alert. We are all more keenly aware of the fragility and value of human life. I rest my case; the statement stands as it has since November 16, 2001, when it was first published.