CLBR Remembers 9/11
Light griefs can speak, but deeper ones are dumb. — Latin proverb
For most of us, it began as a day like any other. How could we have known that September morning that the Gates of Hell had opened and by sundown we would see the absolute worst and best in mankind? The enormity of devastation and shock to us as a nation have made it difficult to articulate what that dark Tuesday meant.
Today we bring in past guests and some new ones to reflect on that day of infamy and what it means today.
Along with new guests
- Mark Davidson (Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy) and
- Dimitri Nionakis (Former Associate White House Counsel)
And we’re told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervor, religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make sense to you? Will that make any goddamned sense? — David Letterman
Each year we remember.
We remember where we were when we found out.
We remember horrors of the day. The vulnerability of learning that the Pentagon of all buildings, which symbolized our impenetrability, had been hit. The collapsing towers delivering countless innocent souls to their graves.
We remember the heroism of the day, from the Passengers on Flight 93 who died preventing a likely attack on the Capitol or White House to the first responders who personified valor.
We remember how fleeting life can be. I flew Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles the Tuesday before. Mark Wahlberg was scheduled to take that flight but instead he and his friends chose to return to Los Angeles via Toronto, a fact that haunts him. “We certainly would have tried to do something to fight. I’ve probably had over 50 dreams about it.”
We remember how we came together as communities, as a nation and even a planet. I remember hanging our flag, which fittingly was slightly tattered from ocean breezes from the beach a block away, but flew defiantly proud.
I even remember the absurd, as Viacom switched all of its programming to CBS News, while channel surfing I caught a glimpse of Dan Rather broadcasting on BET which offered a brief of moment of amusement.
The attack was not just an attack on the United States but civilization and humanity and the world responded with collective grief and solidarity, Nothing sums this up more, than the French Le Monde declaring “We Are All Americans”.
In this tragic moment, when words seem so inadequate to express the shock people feel, the first thing that comes to mind is this: We are all Americans! We are all New Yorkers, just as surely as John F. Kennedy declared himself to be a Berliner in 1962 when he visited Berlin. Indeed, just as in the gravest moments of our own history, how can we not feel profound solidarity with those people, that country, the United States, to whom we are so close and to whom we owe our freedom, and therefore our solidarity? — Jean-Marie Colombani, Le Monde
Never in my lifetime can I recall the nation being so united and abundant in good will from its neighbors and allies.
It did not take long before 9/11 become a political sword used to promote intolerance at home. Two days after the attack, Jerry Falwell appeared on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” and two so-called “Men of God” proceeded to feminists, lesbians, the ACLU and the court system for the attack.
By 2002, as the Bush administration assembled various disparate agencies into one Department of Homeland Security, it sought to punish unions by stripping DHS workers of their collective bargaining rights and bludgeoned Democrats who opposed it. Democratic Georgia Senator and triple amputee purple heart recipient Max Cleland was compared to Osama bin Laden for supporting fair wages and labor conditions for DHS workers.
Bush and the Republicans would later follow the same playbook when it came to expanding NSA surveillance or resisting restrictions on torture after Abu Ghraib.
Eighteen months after 9/11 we invaded Iraq, squandering much of what remained of that good will. We responded to criticism of our Iraq misadventure through inanities such as “Freedom Fries” and “Old Europe” and death threats to the Dixie Chicks. I flew an American Airlines flight from LAX to Dulles during the early days of the war and was shocked to be offered “Freedom Toast.”
Nothing symbolized the squandering of 9/11 good will more than the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, which the Bush administration initially tried to use for propaganda purposes by creating a false heroic story, when in reality Tillman was killed by friendly fire.
The Bush era has given way to the Obama era. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have come to a close and a dozen years now lay between us and that fateful day.
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God. — Aeschylus
The passage of time enables us to examine the cost and legacy of 9/11. The numbers below are just that — numbers. September 11th will always be something greater in the memories of those who lived through it, since no word or number can convey all that encompassed that horrible yet heroic day.
- 2,996 killed at the Pentagon, World Trade Center and Flight 93.
(20 percent of Americans knew someone hurt or killed on 9/11)
- 1,609 lost a spouse or partner
- 3,051 children lost a parent
- 1,300 children were oprhaned
- 17 born after their father was killed
- 19 children of firefighters and police who were killed on 9/11 have since joined the force
- 1,140 World Trade Center First-Responders Diagnosed with Cancer
- 13,065 with Respe=iratory Ailments from 9/11
- 10,320 with 9/11 PTDS
- 8,176 coalition forces killed in Iraq and Afghanistan
- 745,000 veterans have filed disability claims with Veterans Administration
- 2.5 million deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan
- 400,000 did three or more tours
- 37,000 did deployed more than five times
- Economic impact of $3.3 trillion