20 years on…..And I haven’t forgotten.
I remember…. every day…..That thousands of my countrymen were killed, not for what they had done, but for who they were….For the fact that they were American Citizens. That they were not followers of Mohammed, but simply because some bunch of assholes disliked them for their country that they were citizens of, or worked in, or simply because they were not the right kind of muslim….Simply because, by birth or adoption or simply where they worked, they were “Americans” and therefore the enemy. Not soldiers, but simply targets in the eyes of those who perpetrated and supported this crime. I realize (and remember) that, while many Muslims are peaceful and decent and make good citizens and neighbors, many others aren’t. I remember that on this day, Sept 11th, 20 years ago today, people who hate the US because of our culture, because of who we are, because of our freedoms, because of our religions….on this day, 20 years ago, nineteen radical individuals, aided and abetted and financed and encouraged along their way by rich people in other countries like Saudi and Oman, executed a years-long plan to kill citizens of the United States and strike terror and fear in our hearts simply because of who we are, because our beliefs are different than theirs ..because they wish to remain primitive and live like their ancestors did in the 7th century….and we don’t……I remember many muslims in other countries dancing in the streets because some other Muslims had struck a blow against the “Great Satan”….celebrating the deaths of my countrymen simply because we were different than them….because we thought differently, had different religious beliefs, because we had different morals than them.
I remember, and still do, that those in our legislature who opposed the President fought him at every turn, and both his party and the opposition party used this tragedy, this attack, the deaths of my fellow citizens in the days and weeks following the attack to increase their power and reduce my and my fellow citizens freedoms in the name of Security. I remember the failures of our watchdogs, the Intelligence community, to protect our country from these individuals who did the attacks and those who supported them, even though the data was there….That they failed utterly to see the threat or do anything about it, and that 3000 or more people died because they simply weren’t bothering to look for threats.
I remember the reports, as everyone thought the first plane was simply an accident, a terrible tragedy. Then we found out differently. It wasn’t an accident.
I remember the horror in my mind as I watched the second plane strike the tower. I remember knowing then that the world I once knew was going to be different from that point…. I was right.
I remember the reports of the third plane hitting the Pentagon,
I remember the joy in my heart, the pride, as well as the horror, as the reports came of the fourth flight failing to reach it’s intended target as the passengers found their strengths and their inner warrior and fought back. Knowing that the spirit, the strength, was not dead. That they chose to fight, and die on their feet…as wolves, rather than sheep.
But most of all, I remember that these people these “followers of Mohammed”, or at least a subset of them, felt that it was acceptable to come to my country as a guest, to learn to fly and then use a plane as a weapon to kill my countrymen, my fellow citizens. That these people, despite the aid and support and kindness we had given those people, helping them out of poverty, death, disease and despair…that my country and it’s citizens were hated and reviled by people of a religion and culture different than ours.
I remember, and I, at least, will NEVER forget.
In the days afterwards, as I learned more, I remembered the lessons my parents taught me, and struggled to remember to not hate, to not judge the actions of a people by the actions of individuals. It is a difficult struggle, even today, but I remember that lesson. . So I don’t hate Muslims, which may have been the aim of the 9-11 attackers, but I do remember that while I and my countrymen are expected to accommodate their beliefs, they will not accommodate to ours….That while we may be tolerant, they are not. That while we may not hate them for who and what they are, they indeed hate us for who and what we are. That while we may not wish to be enemies, they do. That while we may prefer to leave them alone to live as they wish, they will not leave us alone.
I remember that we, as a country, forgot that we have people who wish us harm, and that, while we may not wish to fight, to maintain vigilance, people who choose to be our enemies have not forgotten, and see our peacefulness as weakness, not strength. That we must remain ever vigilant, ever watchful, ever ready. That while we may not wish for War, others do. That it takes 2 to make peace, but only one to cause conflict.
I have not forgotten, and I never will.