On September 11, 2001 around 8:45am I was awakened by a phone call. Barely able to open my eyes I managed to quietly speak the word, “Hello”. On the other end of the line was my friend Jenny who said, “Everett are you up! You have to turn on the TV, someone just flew a plane into the World Trade Center”!
My reply was short. “Shut the fuck up”. I turned on the TV. I watched in disbelief at what, I thought at the time, was a tragic accident. Jenny and I conversed for about 20 minutes or so about the tragedy. Just then we watched as the second plane hit the tower. “Jenny, I have to go”.
I hung up the phone and jumped in the shower, knowing I had to get to work immediately. I worked for a television news station at that time in my life. I was young, about 22, and carefree. Nothing in the world mattered. Life was a giant party. That day, was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. It was a chapter where I felt an overwhelming empathy for people I didn’t know and was nearly 1000 miles away from, and I felt real life fear for the first time in my life.
I worked in a small Indiana market, and lived only a 3 minute drive from work. I jumped in my car and began heading in. No one had to call me. I knew I had to be there. The first thing I noticed outside was a sense of utter chaos. People were as scared as me. There were lines, incredibly longs lines at every gas station. People were lined up in the street to get gas.
I arrived at work just after 10am. No one was talking. Everyone was busy putting together stories, trying to make sense of the events, and reporting on the local effects of the attacks. Yes, this was unique to me. I hadn’t yet fully comprehended what was happening. All I knew was that I was scared, and sad.
I can’t really recall what time the towers collapsed, and I can’t remember what time President Bush actually spoke for the first time, but I knew I hadn’t been at work that long. The director, Jon and I, watched and listened carefully as the president spoke. I was even more scared as I heard tales of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, and terrorist cells. I had never paid much attention to politics, but an uneasy sense of being came over me. I turned to Jon, “This fucker is going to take us to war without thinking any of this through.”
Yes, I was terrified, but the idea of a “revenge” war terrified me more.
It seemed as though that no one in our government was thinking. Everyone in the world wanted to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice, but they had no real plan to do so. Laws were being pushed through like “The Patriot Act”, and I even heard Republican Senator Steve Buyer tell a bunch of high school kids that we should, “Kill them all, dig a deep hole, and douse them with pigs blood to prevent them from going to heaven.” I heard countless times, “We should just turn it into a glass parking lot over there.” People were scared, and in true animalistic fashion, they were thumping their chests as if hoping to scare the terrorists away.
The weeks turned into months…and I saw reports of arrests of US citizens for speaking out against the war on terror we were now in.
Months turned into years with Bin Laden being allusive, so we went to war with Iraq. We had “free speech zones” and “no fly lists”. We began hearing stories of secret courts, and secret prisons. All which turned out to be true. America was a pale image of what she used to be.
Our world had changed, and not for the better. I began paying close attention to the world of politics, and reading about our history with Al Qaeda, and Osama Bin Laden. It was a lengthy history. I came to the conclusion that the U.S. and its C.I.A had a lot of blood on their hands.
As the years progressed, America had almost forgotten about Bin Laden. Republicans and Democrats have given us a lot of distractions. Many wanted to end the wars that were costing us trillions of dollars, over 100,000 innocent lives, and permanently staining the reputation of America around the world. That is why the country elected Barack Obama as president. He promised us change, an end to needless bloodshed, and the restoration of our civil liberties. He has yet to deliver on any of those promises that got him elected and even his own base of supporters had begun turning against him chanting, “we paid our dues, now where is our change”. Things were very bleak for the status quo.
Last night, I was sitting in my backyard enjoying a beverage and a cigarette. My wife runs out of the back door screaming, “Babe you have to come in and watch the news, they got Osama Bin Laden”.
Nearly ten years later, a lot has changed in technology, so I searched “Osama Bin Laden headline” on my Android smart phone and watched the live Twitter feeds pour in. I slowly began to walk to the house, tripping on the steps because I was looking at my phone. As I got inside, I looked up from my phone to see the headline, “Osama Bin Laden Killed”.
I watched as I occasionally checked the live Twitter feed on my phone. People were cheering on the U.S. for a great job. However, I just wasn’t feeling the jubilation.
I understand wholeheartedly the tragedy of 911. Many people say this, but for me it’s true, not a day goes by that I don’t think about that day at some point. It’s shaped my life beyond its former recognition. It’s reshaped everyone’s life. We had our lives before 911, and this is our life “Post 911”.
Folks, here is what we have to keep in perspective. We are enormously in debt, in large part, because of these wars. Osama Bin Laden’s priority number one was to bankrupt the US fighting wars it cannot win.
There have been very large scale casualties, especially in Iraq, where it is reported that as many as 150,000 innocent civilians and over 4,000 soldiers have been killed. Bin Laden’s plan was to change the way the world perceives the US.
Finally, Osama’s death is insignificant in eliminating his threat to the US. His plan has already been set in motion, and his successors have been hand-picked years ago. It may satisfy everyone’s need for revenge, but that feeling of euphoria won’t last very long. It never does.
Yet, there is some comfort in knowing that this chapter of my life has come to a close. Now, as Americans, we have to be vigilant in ending the wars. We will never forget all that have died, and all that have sacrificed, but we have to do so with the living in mind.
*The view of this article doesn’t necessarily represent the views of HEAVEmedia, its staff or its business partners