I woke up this morning at 7:30, the same time I did 10 years ago on this very day. Back then, it was an amazing feat. Today it is normal. In many ways they got what they wanted.
There is a new normal.
There is a huge scar in in the ground.
There is more fear now than there was then.
I was beginning my sophomore year in college. I had a 9:30 astronomy class to get ready for. I always loved my astronomy classes because they were all in the exact same classroom, which just so happened to be the very first classroom I sat in on my first day of college in August of 2000. In a strange way, that building became a home for me. Out of all the classes I did miss in college (trust me, there were A Lot), I rarely missed astronomy.
I had just gotten out of the shower and turned on the television. Waking up early enough to watch tv before school was unheard of, but I settled on Good Morning America just as the first tower was hit. Reporters and anchors were in shock and discussing a similar incident that occurred in the 30’s, when a small plan had hit a building in New York. For a second, I was on board with that. Plausible. Suddenly, I felt twinge and sat at the end of my bed in my sgae green towel with my hair dripping wet, glued to the tv. I remembered a paper that I had written during the spring semester of my previous year. It was about the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. I immediately thought of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaida, and the Taliban. These terms had not yet been uttered in the media. So moved by my hunch, I got up and scrambled through my files to find that paper. Just as I found it, the second plane hit. I was in a daze.
I finished getting ready for school and walked to the bus stop. It was strange. Quiet. I got to school, already late for class, and walked through campus. I picked up bits and pieces of news and heard rumors of school being cancelled as I made my way to astronomy. The professor, Fritz, was lecturing and I took a seat in the back, next to some guy wearing headphones. This was not so common ten years ago. I was kind of shocked by his blatant disregard for the instructor. After a few short minutes, he looked at me, with no emotion, but a ghost white face and said, “another one hit.” This was the flight that hit the Pentagon.
I was a journalism major. I needed to know what was happening. I walked outside, sat on the edge of one of the many large, concrete planters near the building and called my mother. I told her I was worried and and that I was going home. I got on the bus, called my best friend and she, too was heading home so we decided that she would come straight to my apartment. We sat for hours upon hours watching the coverage.
This was the day I realized I didn’t want to be a journalist. The reasons I stuck with it are for another blog. It was the beginning of speculative reporting. This was the day that the fear generator went into overtime. So many people depend on the news and they had no idea what they were talking about. Nobody wanted to move. Nobody knew what to do and there was really nobody to tell us. We all just sat and stared, mired in fear.
This tragedy is often compared to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I don’t think anyone sat around, scared to move back then. I think the American way of coping was a call action. Certainly, there were some who felt moved to act, but most of us felt so disconnected from world events, it was easier to turn on the television and be spoon fed dose after dose of neatly packaged fear. On that day in December, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, the whole nation knew we were in a war. With fewer means of communication, this country had more awareness of world events than we do now and that’s why we sat. We were told to continue life as normal. This was not ill-intended, but subconsciously, to many Amaericans, it translated to, “keep being unengaged. We’ve got this, as usual.”
Back then, they were told that great sacrifice would be needed from everyone. And, guess what? Car manufacturing plants halted operations to build things for the military. Women planted gardens at home so more food could be sent to soldiers. Young men were drafted. This joint sacrifice created a unified sense of victory. Today, war = opportunity and the government wanted this one all for themselves. They had already been fighting this decades old, billion dollar war through covert ops and they weren’t about to say they couldn’t do it alone. In 2000, we were unified by tragedy and that was it. We have no real victory. We are in a perpetual war. Check Facebook. People are talking about the terror threat for today. If I could ask one thing, I would ask you not to participate in this fear generating machine. Of course there is a heightened threat in 9/11. Don’t post it. I firmly believe that these terror threats are manufactured by politicos and talking heads to create an “issue that must be addressed.”
Fear has made many people a lot of money in the decade since the Twin Towers fell, the Pentagon was hit and flight 93 found it’s final resting place. I won’t support that. I choose to support the heroes that have fallen and those who are fighting for our freedom, not the fear generators (the politicians, the media, and terrorists).
God Bless America.