The Future of the 9/11 Past

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The most vivid 9/11 impression occurred for me a month later and about 40 miles north of the Pentagon. As my Frederick, Maryland, Marine Reserve unit prepared to muster for drill, its first since the terrorist attack, faces not seen in months, even years, reappeared in the unpaved parking lot. The Ghosts of Marines Past sought readmittance. Clearly, they hadn’t signed up for the GI Bill. The unit rebuffed their attempts to rejoin. An exception was a government attorney whose World Trade Center office containing several suits, diplomas, but not, thankfully, him, had been obliterated. His witness at Ground Zero, and subsequent service in Iraq, put him in the focal points of the war-on-terrorism decade. Like the firemen who rushed up the stairs of the World Trade Center when common sense propelled everyone else to rush down, these Marines—embodying the adage “once a Marine, always a Marine”—pursued danger.

September 11th showed the worst of humanity. It also showed the best.

The strength of actual memory is that everyone has a different one of the same event. The hundreds of millions of Americans who lived through 9/11 possess hundreds of millions of stories about it. The weakness of virtual memory is that it imposes the same recollections on everyone through mass media. For those who didn’t live through it, the spectacular imagery of planes crashing into the towers or the grisly visuals of victims ending their suffering through death leaps will represent 9/11. But there is more to the story. As the distance grows between us and our past, our past becomes less personal. I guess you had to be there.

Events ensure that 9/11 will never be the same again. Through the filter of a decade, we see the worst terrorist attack in history as history. Instead of an immediate act of horrible evil to be avenged or human loss to be mourned, it becomes causal agent, demarcation point, and metaphor. The day is seen as the end of several decades of peace and prosperity and the beginning of a decade (or more) of war and stagnation. Whereas we might have marveled at the world’s lone superpower humbled by nineteen box-cutter-wielding fanatics, we now see a teetering superpower whose functioning symbols of military and financial power crushed by jet-bomb proved a harbinger of things to come. A moment of national unity, in light of the impeachment before and the harsh rhetoric after, transforms into an outlier within a period of intense political division. September 11th has evolved.

Our memory of 9/11 isn’t what it used to be. Ten years hence it won’t be what it is.

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  • Chezwick_mac

    When I think of that day, I think of the children on those airplanes, no doubt frightened by what was happening…but trusting that their parents and the adult world would take care of them and keep them safe. My God, how we betrayed them with our lax security.

    I think of an associate of Muhammad Atta, who claimed he expressed concern to the ringleader that the plot was bound to fail…and Atta's response: "No, the enemy is stupid." Atta apparently knew us much better than we knew him.

    I think of Atta's instruction that as they were taking over the planes, the hijackers were to shout "Allah O Akbar" to "frighten the infidels." He understood the religious dimensions of his mission…and he looked upon us as frightened sheep.

    I think of the heroes of flight 93 ("LET'S ROLL!"). This was the first full-scale battle in the modern incarnation of our ancient struggle with Islam. Those men went to their death…but they went fighting, denying the terrorists their objective.

    I think of the first responders, who gave their lives for their countrymen.

    I think of the families of the dead, and how – 10 years later – there still exists a gaping hole in their lives.

    Most of all, I think of my family, friends, and the country I love.

    I'm an American, through and through. I love our culture, the natural beauty of our land, our exceptional history. And I'm not ready to cede all that to the followers of a 7th century Bedouin who claimed that God gave his permission for us to beat our women and murder our enemies, a Bedouin who ordered his detractors assassinated (including a pregnant poetess and an octogenarian), and who defiled a little girl…all of this documented in their own scripture.

    I implore all my fellow countrymen to grieve with dignity…and NEVER to resort to the methods of our enemies, who target non-combatants as a deliberate strategy. Let us fight our war honorably. Let us retain our humanity and our human dignity. Let us define ourselves by our choices, and let us make sure our choices conform to our ethics and values. Our ethics and values are what distinguish us from Islam.

    • PatriotX

      You should submitt this as an actual column for this site. Well written!

      • Chezwick_mac

        Thanks a lot Patriot.

        I couldn't quite nail the final sentence of the 2nd to last paragraph. Se la vi.

        We once had the luxury of editing our posts here at FPM. That privilege no longer exists.

  • TK Heekin

    Well said, Chezwick. Like the writer of this article I fall into the "once a Marine" catgegory. On 9/11 I was distraught that I was too old for the Corps. Sure, I did my bit as a grunt in the Nam but that was paying off a debt to the guys at Tarawa and Belleau Woods but this, this 9/11, this was different. For the first time in my life I needed to kill and the Corps didn't want me. So I wrote a book. It will be out in October entitled "Satan's Trinity: Hitler, Stalin and Muhammad." What else can old men do?

    • Chezwick_mac

      I'll look for it, TK.

    • PatriotX

      I’ll definitely look for it!

  • mrbean

    It is our killer instincts which must be harnessed if we expect to survive in a war with the Jihadists. Our weapons are only our tools. It is a hard heart that kills. If our killer instincts are not clean and strong we will hesitate at the moment of truth. We will not kill the Jihadists. We will then become dead or enslaved Americans. Because there are a billion Muslims and on a few of us who will fight! Do you understand? This is a deadly game that we must not lose? Enough of this whining and grieving almost 10 years later. Time to increase the Jihadist body count significantly!

  • Ghostwriter

    What appalled me most about that day was that in the Muslim world,they danced and celebrated the mass murder of three thousand Americans. That,to me was disgusting and vile. Unfortunately,they confirmed for many the Hollywood stereotype of Muslims as being terrorist supporters. There was little sympathy for the families of those who had died. The Muslim world should hang it's head in absolute shame for that. That was uncalled for and should have been condemned.

  • PatriotX

    You think that was vile and horrible, read about what’s happening all over Europe and the U.K. TheY used to hold a moment of silence for those lost during 9-11 but that ended out of respect for multiculturalism. It was argued that it might offend muslim citizens. Yes, you read it right. IT MIGHT OFFEND MUSLIM CITIZENS!!! My question is what type of citizen wouldn’t be offended at the deaths of thousands of innocent citizens to include other muslims….hmmmmm, could it be that the most offended were those connected to the very same people that pulled it off. You know, I’m generally a peaceful person but this PC bs really brings out the darker half. All throughout Europe, those who express any condolences or mourning for those who died stand a good chance of being legally arrested in some countries or threatened by the youth of the Muslim gang members (I have other names for them but christian ethics won’t permit). It’s a crime to even speak out against Islam in some European countries now. I know Sweeden is one of them. 3 people, rather prominent citizens at that, have been brought up on charges. Alot of people are unaware of this and of course good ol American complacency has once again reared it’s ugly skull. I’ve voiced my concern to some folks and they just laugh and say “It won’t happen here you’re paranoid, the constitution will never allow such laws to be passed” I just looked at them in shock, I mean, how naive can one be? Like our current administration has soooooo much regard for the constitution. Did it stop them from passing Obama Care? No, did stop them from trying to reverse the 2nd admendment? NO, the only time the constitution means anything to this administration, is when they want to defend the rights of a rapist, allow gays in the military or when they want to further there bs political agenda. Other than that, it means as much to them as toilet paper would. It’s already emerged in this country, ever heard of Dearborn, MI. “Oh it might offend our muslim citizens” well if it does I guess we know where they stand, don’t we?
    I can understand why muslims, those who want nothing to do with radical Islam’s agenda, are silent in other countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq…etc. They keep quiet because of fear for their lives but in the U.S. what’s the execuse? Their silence is part of the problem. They should speak out and we as decent citizens should encourage them to and protect them from the radicals within our borders when they do.

  • tarleton

    furthermore …if Londoners had made such a cult of the dead 10 years after the war , they would have been told to shut up and get on with their lives instead of engaging in this mawkish maudling sentimentality

  • Piera Prister

    We learned nothing from 9/11/2001 attack. We were only capaple to elect Mr.Obama who are pushing the country down down toward unemployment, recession and bankruptcy; not even the Chinese trust us. Our enemy thinks we are stupid, but let us grab the last chance we have to save us: make Obama one term president!

  • aghasaheb,

    All problem of the World, is blong To Jewish Lobby Of The World.. They Want control the World, but they can’t do it. Its the 2000 years back worong story. They never want come from DATE Time To This Time. They were Stuked in Worong History of Evil & Devil. They Think date they are very Wise, Very Nice, Creture of The Holy World, They are blong TOO.But Acutually they going in a WORONG WAY OF HISTORY, They are Thinking Look LIKE a 12 years BOYS.IQ. ITS NOT THEIR FAULT, Its their fore Father worrong Idea of Living on this Earth. They are Sadist Nation of the World. They are Thinkig, & Working like Donkey Yester day night whats happend with their Embessy in Cairo. Its Enough for them for next century. They are LIE’s, Hapocarte, Dishonest with each other’s. The Americans, & Israei’s Nation are blong to Homosexuals.The Big mistake of U.S. & Israel’s history were allways a mistakes, Thats they are under esitimates The other Nation’s of the Worlds They make issue for other Countries They Think that they are very Wise, Nice, or Cleaver, ? BUT Thay are Mad, Sadist NATION, FOOLISHNEES IDEA, Bush, & Sharon Idea’s were Failed in the World. The Obama bin Ladin, & Nathayun are puazzled in these DAYS. Why ? They THINK AFTER WORK. They don’t know, what thay are doing. ? What they gaine from Afghanista, & Iraq Wars. Why 11/9, Projects was Failed, Why ISLAMIC REVOLUTION CAME IN Islamic Countries. ?. Its due to Obama bin Ladin.The Big mistake Brone of U.S. in history were allways a mistakes, Thats they are under esitimates The other Nation’s of the Worlds They make issue for other Countries They Think that they are very Wise, or Cleaver., nice person of the WORLD..Thanks.

    • Ghostwriter

      You are unbelievable,aghasaheb! People like Osama Bin Laden are monsters who believe THEIR religion should be above everyone else's. Doesn't matter what the Christians and Jews might feel about it. You are a heartless beast,like them!

  • alexander

    after killing 2,400 men in Pearl Harbor, we destroyed Hiroshima…….don't want to capitutale, Japan? We flattened Nagasaki….and had promised more… The WAR with Japan has ENDED.

    After killing 3000+ people in WTC, Mecca and Medina are still there………………………?

  • Fred Dawes

    Yes why is it Mecca and Medina are still there? thank you Alexander