Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2001

I had drank the previous evening. I don't have any specific memory of having drank that particular evening, but at the time I was drinking just about every evening so I can be fairly certain that that activity took place.
I was living at the time in a little hellhole in North Hollywood, with a very real human monster just down the staircase. I hated my life at the time, but I didn't no how to get out, and eventually things got so bad that I decided the only way to escape was to drink a much vodka as possible and drop down a bottle of over the counter sleeping pills one evening.
Fortunately all that accomplished was for me to wake up the next morning in the same place with a pounding headache, and the greatest case of cotton mouth one is able to experience. But this event did provide the impetus to get out of there, which I did, beginning the long journey to skid row.
But that morning I remember waking up, the light filtering through the curtains, and somewhere outside someone was using a leaf blower making as much noise as possible. I looked at the television which had been on all night. A local morning news program was on which was currently showing a picture of the New York skyline. At least I thought it was New York. One of the tall buildings seemed to be on fire.
I turned up the television's volume. They were saying that a plane had struck one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. It was New York alright.
Then an airliner entered the picture and slammed into the other tower.
All hell broke lose after that. I went downstairs to see what the human monster was doing. She was watching the same thing and talking to somebody on her telephone. I returned up stairs, showered, then left the hellhole and drove to the Chamber of Commerce where I had been doing some volunteer work. There, where it was sane, we watched the continuing insanity on the TV. We heard that the Pentagon had been similarly attacked. There were rumors that people trapped on the upper floors of both buildings were jumping out of the windows to escape the fires within. My God, what a choice to have to make, if rationality was at all involved. I suppose if I were faced with that same scenario I'd make the same choice. We watched in total horror when the first of the towers collapsed. About a half hour later the second tower fell as well. It was truly the most horrendous thing I have ever seen, and probably ever will see.
We heard of a fourth plane that had been hijacked which crashed in a field somewhere in Pennsylvania. That was United Airlines Flight 93, and the story of that flight, made into a stunning film in 2006, chronicled the greatest acts of heroism I can possibly imagine. Able to talk to others on the ground and learning of the events at the Pentagon and World Trade Center, the passengers of Flight 93 were not left with much of a choice, die by letting the hijackers carry out their plan, or attempt to take back control of the plane, foiling their attackers plans and probably saving hundreds of more American lives on the ground, but knowing full well that they themselves would most likely die as a result. Yes, not much of a choice, but what courage it must of took.
2,993 people died that day, including all of the 19 hijackers. A group called Al-Qaeda was soon held to be responsible for the attacks, and the name Osama bin Laden was mentioned.It seems he objected to the United States having military bases in his former home, Saudi Arabia.I couldn't stand George W. Bush, and believed he had stolen the 2000 election, but on that day I stood with him, and with all of my fellow Americans seeking answers to why this had happened, and to swiftly strike back at those who had so gravely wounded our nation.
The world turned its attention to one of the poorest, war ridden, nations on the planet, Afghanistan, and the Taliban government that was said to be hiding bin Laden and his organization. I had heard of them before and knew them to be a theocracy of religious extremists who had destroyed many Buddhist statues. The United States threatened to attack that country if they did not hand over bin Laden, but they refused, asking for evidence that tied him to the 9/11 attack, and offering to try him themselves in an Islamic court. But Bush would have none of that. He needed to start a war, and he did.
On October 7th war was declared on a tactic and we invaded Afghanistan. And were still there, and supposedly Osama bin Laden and his organization are still alive and functioning, and the exiled Taliban are making a resurgence in that country, and Pakistan next door.
I suppose I supported the attack on Afghanistan at the time, being caught up in a wave of national fervor as was most of our citizens. I had no idea why we invaded Iraq, and thought the nation had lost it's mind. And we're still in both places, hopefully leaving Iraq soon enough, but why are we still in Afghanistan? What do we hope to accomplish, and when will we leave?
These questions require serious answers. The sooner we answer them the better for us and our troops who are dying there.
My cousin Kathy Emailed a package to me this morning of newly de-classified photographs of the devastation wrought on that day in New York, with a heart felt request that we should never forget what happened. One of the pictures was of a lone man poised in mid air as he fell to his death.
No Kathy, I'll never forget. I don't think that's even possible.
President Obama has called for another day of national service to honor this eight anniversary of the events of September 11th, 2001. I intend to give blood again. I hope all of you, dear readers, find some way to give back as well.

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