I really hate talking about tragedies. I think that often they serve as an opportunity to capitalize, rather than an opportunity for reflection.
September 11, 2001. I’m in 7th grade. I’m at Dad’s house that week. I’m in the bathtub in the apartment at Deerfield. I’m doing the usual procrastination routine (for some reason, it took 12-year old me like an hour and a half to get ready for school), when Dad knocks on my door and tells me to turn on the tv.
I get out. I’m wrapped in that striped blue and yellow towel with the red ends.
I turn on the tv sitting on my dresser (the one exciting part about divorce was cable!) and stare.
I started watching before the second plane hit.
I saw that little speck fly across the screen, hit the building, and burst into flames. The smoke rippled out and up, away.
That’s what I remember about 9/11.
We went to school. They wouldn’t tell us anything. At our lockers, we whispered that the White House had been blown up, that everything was destroyed. There was talk of letting us watch the coverage, but that never happened.
My cousins were born that day. Little premature babies coming into the world. They were life in the middle of all the hopelessness. Everyone was worried that they wouldn’t make it. That they were too early. They would. They had to.
On the tenth anniversary, I hope that all of America stops and reflects about the past decade. About how that day really did change us all; it changed our outlook; it took our trust.
But I am very critical of how we treated Muslims after that. The way we’re still treating Muslims. The way we look at the Arab world and make blanket statements. It’s not healthy for us to live these two-faced lives: the one of freedom and strength and the other of cowardly fear and oppression.
It is true that Osama bin Laden wanted us to get into a war we could never escape from. And we’ve managed to do it twice. So, honestly, he gets a point or two for that. We didn’t think through our actions – we acted instead. You all know I’m the first person to advocate acting first and thinking later, but not when it comes to peoples’ lives. To tax dollars. To innocent civilians.
We acted incorrectly. We went into Iraq, not because of 9/11 (but yeah, sort of), but to find WMDs that didn’t exist. We should have left. Instead, we just blew more stuff up.
No one won 9/11.
Bin Laden lost his freedom, his power, and eventually his life.
We lost much more than that.
Not only did we lose so many of our own unsuspecting civilians, fathers and mothers, and families, we lost our future. Arguably, we lost our superpower status.
Not everything that has happened in the last decade happened because of 9/11.
We’re not the same, we’ve lost a lot.
But we are stronger than that day.
America is more than that day.
So hug your family and be grateful for them. Even though our country is mired in a hot mess of hell right now, we are a wonderful place to be.
I personally am grateful for all of my freedom as a woman. My freedom of expression. My independence. My education. My life, even though it super shitty sometimes, is full of endless possibilities.
And so is yours.