12 September 2008

Reflections on 9/11

Yesterday was of course, the 7th anniversary of the tragic attack on our country and on our soil.

I got into an interesting debate with people at work about when they thought this day will become just like Pearl Harbor Day, which means, "like every other day". I mean, let's face it, it's still very fresh in our minds, thoughts and foreign policy so I'm not saying it SHOULD become like PHD, but it WILL happen.

I referenced even how it only took a week for someone to make a joke about it and make people laugh, so my question is more of "when does this change"? For the record the joke was:
"Gary Condit was relieved as the remains of Chandra Levy were found at Ground Zero."

(Gary was THE news story for weeks prior to 9/11 and this changed all that and STILL didn't help find where Chandra is/was)

We had a large variety of opinions on this but I think the consensus was that it was going to take a generation to pass before that would happen. Much like PHD and the Kennedy assassination(s) they remain important dates in our country's history but they lose the impact and "newsworthiness" except on significant anniversaries.

Hopefully NYC will get off their butts to build a monument on the site but I did mention that there have been other domestic attacks such as Oklahoma City and the Murrah building where people don't remember the date and that it's sort of faded into the fabric of our country. There's a huge monument there now but does anyone remember the date in April when it happened? It was April 19th, 1995 but likely because it was done by an "American" AND it was during the O.J. Simpson trial, people tend to forget, which is sad.

Of course we talked about where we were and for most of us, we were at work at Millward Brown. I always do recall though how the night before I was returning from Detroit where we had just finished our Millward Brown Ryder Cup competition. We were running straight from the golf course to the airport and I can remember Duncan Southgate carrying my clubs while I carried my luggage to the counter. I had all of about 20 minutes to make my flight.

I remember flying through security at Detroit Metro throwing my carry on onto the x-ray machine, running full speed through the terminal to board my American Airlines flight back to Chicago. It was the last flight back. Looking back it's not surprising how the terrorists eased their way through security and were able to do what they did given the ease that I was able to.

For me, I wasn't at work when it all started. In fact, I came in very late and I was in the shower when the first plane hit. I remember walking out of the shower and looking at the TV and wondering what the hell was going on. I had news radio on the entire way to work and just was horrified at what I was hearing. It will never leave me and brings chills to me when I think back on it.

What makes me most angry is that we, as America, wasted an opportunity to remain the leader of the free world. Basically we had EVERY country in the world on our side of this tragedy. But the misguided foray into Iraq has squandered all hope that we'll ever be in that position again. We could have united the world and truly led in a peaceful response, but we didn't. The Hawks were in charge and took full advantage of this situation for their own uses.

"Dead or Alive", "Mission Accomplished", "Axis of Evil". All terms that ruined a chance to take the high road and show the world how humane a free civilization could be. I don't think there was a country out there that would have stopped us if we truly went AFTER Bin Laden. In fact most said we were well within our rights and likely would have backed those efforts. But we shot that right in the foot and I think it'll take that same generational turnover for us to have any sort of chance at making it right again.

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