On the morning of September the 11th 2011, two planes were deliberately flown, suicide fashion into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Centre complex in Lower Manhattan, New York, perhaps the most powerful symbol of American economic might. Within 1:42 minutes, both towers had collapsed and 2996 people were killed in what is arguably the single greatest terrorist attack of modern times and the biggest and most horrific attack on American soil.
Today we commemorate the tragic and unnecessary deaths of so many people, we empathise with the thousands of families that were affected by the deaths of their loved ones, and we pay tribute to the valiant first responders, many of whom gave their lives unselfishly in support of their country and their countrymen. Eighteen years on we are reminded that international terrorism came of age at the expense of the American people, and so many others who dies needlessly.
Today we are reminded to celebrate the lives of our loved ones who died going to work, expecting to return home, and the unrequited duty of the first responders, the real life heroes in this tragic event. We are reminded that for the very first time in our history, owning an American passport can sometimes be a liability, not an asset as we were so often taught, and that being an American runs the risk of anyone of us being targeted by virtue of our birthplace. As Americans, we have been dragged, kicking and screaming into “national adulthood” in the most brutal and unremitting way.
There is no other way to describe the attack, but by characterising it as a “mass-murder,” unfortunately, though it may not sit well within the warm confines of our individual and national psyche, a mass-murder it was, whilst simultaneously being a terrible coming of age for all of us, in addition, to exposing our vulnerabilities as a nation state.
I decry the following:
Memorials and prayers are good and indeed serve a purpose, but we haven’t had a national conversation about the aftermath of 911 in terms of seeing it from a psychohistorical perspective
We appear to have placed a limitation and not a premium on our right as a nation to mourn for the loss of our loved ones and the loss of our “national innocence?”
We have not sufficiently and unselfishly provided our first responders with the national recognition they deserve and monetary compensation, commensurate with what and how our heroes should be rewarded? Instead, it has become a bipartisan issue in Congress, which required popular TV host and comedian, Jon Stewart to tearfully plead with house members for fair and reasonable compensation for the very people amongst us who “saved the day” and made our nation proud, indeed, made us proud to be Americans?
The next logical and indeed uncomfortable question we must dare ask of ourselves is this:
Have we as a society become so militaristic in philosophy and outlook, that only war heroes who have perished in far off lands are accorded privileges and respect that we have forgotten or maybe don’t realise that our fire-fighters and rescue personnel on the day were unselfish heroes and acted above and beyond the call of duty, without the uses or need for a gun strapped to their sides or toting an automatic rifle?
This in my view is the most fundamental national introspectively slanted question of our times, and until such time that we are brave enough to ask that of ourselves, would we have taken hold of the existential realties of a post 911 world we now inhabit?
Thinking of those who lost their lives 18 years ago today on #911, along with all the first responders. And also of those across the world who came together after the tragedies on that day.