September 9, 2012
September 10, 2001: "Make no mistake, it's not revenge he's after. It's a reckonin'."
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
A terrible beauty is born.
-- Easter, 1916 by William Butler Yeats
I've been trying to remember September 10 but it's no go.
I know what I must have been doing, but I don't remember what I did. I kept no notes on that most ordinary of September days. I kept many notes on the day that followed and the days, weeks, months and years that followed that day. What I do know is that whatever might have followed September 10 was taken from us all that day never to be returned or recaptured only avenged. What I do know is that "justice being served" has no part in it, and never did.
I can, of course, assume what I did -- what I must have done -- on a routine Monday in Brooklyn Heights. I would have gotten up and showered in my strange bathroom with half a tub. I would have dressed for work; maybe a white shirt and a tie and a suit. I would have walked a block and a half to the Clark Street Station and taken an elevator 11 floors beneath the surface of the earth, ridden a train deeper still under the East River, and gotten out at Penn Station, walked across the street and taken the elevator up to the eleventh floor, and worked my way through my day before repeating the journey back to Brooklyn Heights. I must have done those things and done them without knowing it would be the last time I would do them in a heedless fashion. It was just the pattern my life had come to in all the long New York years leading to September 10.
I can, of course, look and see what the nation and the world was concerned with on September 10. John O'Neil, the FBI's leading counterterrorism expert was dining at Elaine's Restaurant on the Upper East Side, and telling his fellow diners, “We're due. And we're due for something big. Some things have happened in Afghanistan...." O'Neill would be dead within 24 hours when the South Tower collapsed. On the same day, Iran denied, not for the first or last time, that it was trying to develop nuclear weapons. Down on Wall Street the Dow Jones index remained flat at the close of business and the New York Times wrote, not for the first or last time, of “the darkening economic outlook” while noting that most economists didn't "anticipate a full-blown recession." Overall the hottest news story in the nation concerned Michael Jordan's pending return to professional basketball. The news that day was a case of the banal overshadowing the mundane.
It was against that background of works and days that the doors of history swung open and we all walked through them forgetting to ask, "What fresh hell is this?"
We were soon to know the nature of the new hell and we were all thrust into it without repeal. The days turned to months and the months turned to years and now we have turned around and a decade is gone. What might have been ours, for good or ill, in that decade was forever stolen from us. Stolen from us not -- never doubt this -- by one man alone, but by a host of savages and throwbacks spread around the world and here among us and dedicated to our destruction. A host that will use any means necessary to destroy this nation while this nation "serves justice" up in spoonfuls and creates "Rules of Engagement" with which to hamper those who would defend it with their very lives.
What the nation has become, through death by fire, bravado, war, forgetfulness, treason, and blunt stupidity could not have been foretold on September 10, but here we are -- a lurching ship of state captained by a malicious hater of the American soil. That same captain, maddened by his own stunted heritage, will today disgrace the soil of Ground Zero. It is a difficult reality that has been dealt by the hands of fate; one that is still being played out.
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death.
-- SEPTEMBER 1, 1939 W.H. Auden
Now over a decade has passed, "a low dishonest decade," since the day after September 10 and the thing that looked like a man, the monster that set the events of the 11th in motion, has been expunged from the Book of Life. Too easily and too quickly for my tastes but my tastes in these matters are rooted in Scots' blood, and that blood demands punishments too severe to write down here or to hold in the mind for long.
Some would say that his death with a bullet to the brain and then the use of the body as food for crabs and worm on the bottom of the ocean means "Debt paid" and "War over" and "Victory." Let that be to them as it will be, but my blood says that it is not paid, not over and not a victory.
My blood says that all of those in his line need to be expunged, and that all of those who emulate and revere his manner of thinking need to be expunged, and all of those in his part of the gene pool need to be drained away and destroyed, root and branch. My blood says, "Carthago delenda est."
From what little I know of history, what little I know of our enemies, I know in the marrow of my bones that there will come a terrible day in which that final judgment will be rendered and that final act shall be done. And as it was on the day after September 10, I remain relentlessly for this reckoning; a reckoning that is still to come, but like September 11 itself, certain to arrive.
In time their smoke and ash became but words
In stories told at dinner, told by rote,
Or in the comments made by magazines
For whom the "larger issues" were of note.
In time their faces faded with the rains,
The little altars thick with wax were scraped,
But still beneath clear plastic they endure
To remind us all we've not escaped.
Their silence keeps me sleepless for I know.
-- The Missing
Posted by Vanderleun at September 9, 2012 12:28 AM
One of your finest pieces, Gerard. Well done.
The sad lament that bin Laden was "unarmed" is laughable. Even without a gun in his hand, he had two phone numbers sewn into his clothes, along with cash. He was ready to leave and set up shop somewhere else. Had he escaped or lived, he would have retained the ability to aim his hateful and venomous followers at the West. I call that a living threat to my existence. Him or me. Us or them. I didn't ask for that choice, it was thrust upon all of us on 9/11. So be it.
You speak, and very well, for a host of Americans. In the days after 9/11 we were, for a short period, united against the man and his cohorts who attacked us. How I long for that sense of the power and urgency we felt. The sense that finally we would defend ourselves after all the fatwas of death, bombings and attacks. Ten years on we are like a sagging bridge, still ready for service but worn down by time and the weight of the nattering nabobs of negativity who refuse to see the threat and actually oppose our right to defend ourselves.
We need to brace ourselves up for the rest of the struggle because we "have miles to go and promises to keep before we can sleep."
This is far from over. Osama was so intent on delaying death that he gave up control of his movement, remaining only as an icon. You cannot control a movement via the occasional videotape, the occasional hand-delivered message to your acolytes. The real control has long since been passed along. What we have remains: a religion/ideology that is all encompassing and dispersed. A movement that the West, with its belief in multiculturalism is ill equipped to resist. Where even the most hardened warrior maintains that Osama’s adherents are allowed to spread their poison as long as they don’t kill the body, only the spirit. They number in the billions and their spirit is as flame-bright as it is violent; that’s why the “enlightened” cower in fear and call it prudence. Who will defend Christendom when its guardians no longer believe?
Powerful words, and true.
The worst is surely yet to come, but the end will also come, and with it, the vengeance of the Lord on all the forces of hell.
It might not be over for US...but it's over for HIM. And for that I am grateful. I just wish he had suffered more on his way out. I hope the sound of the helicopters and our Seals climbing the stairs towards him made him smell the ashes in hell where he was headed directly for. Even so...he had it a lot easier than the people he incinerated, or jumped to avoid incineration.
I spit on his watery grave. Good riddance to inhuman rubbish.
Thank you Gerard. Your words give me encouragement in the predicament we find ourselves in.
We are truly in deep trouble with the filthy cabal who run our country.
And I also want to thank our Special Forces and all Americans in our military.
Muslim Rage. Ho Hum. The volume has been set on high for so long I can't hear them anymore.
I do remember, oddly enough, what I was doing on September 10th, 2001. I took my 4 year old daughter to her pre-school for her first day. She was so excited and couldn't wait to go. All the previous week she kept asking me if it was 'time' to go, yet. When I got there, her name wasn't on the roll. They'd forgotten to process the paperwork, and there was no room for her. We spent the morning all sad.
September 10th 2001 was also the day our community was shocked by a heinous crime. A group of teens kidnapped a high school principal and his wife and tied them up and robbed them, and because one of the criminals was their foster daughter, she ordered them killed. In a community our size, it was the only news we talked about, til tomorrow came, and we suddenly found something worse to talk about.
I spent that Monday as I'd done for several weeks, looking for a job after I'd been laid off. In fact, I was on a job search website when I noticed weird e-mail messages in my inbox, and went to the TV to see what was going on. Scared the hell outta me.
Nothing's been the same since, as we all know.
I remember indeed Sept 10 2001. One of my co workers, my sound man, was complaining that he was under appreciated and said he was seriously thinking of moving to New York to advance his career." Joe", I said, "I wouldn't go anywhere near New York one of these days some fool Arab is going to drag a nuclear weapon into the World Trade Center and then it's bye bye NY." I overestimated their capability, but not their intent. Less than 16 hours later the terrorists proved my point. I have never regretted being right more than on that next morning.
It had to be done before the Ground Zero Mosque could be built, right? Perhaps it was a trade. The Imam of the mosque did take a tour recently to generate support and funds. Clever - ditch plans to try the Gitmo detainees in NY, throw the patriotic Americans a bone in the assassination of the 9/11 mastermind, then move forward with construction. Maybe they won't notice the huge gaping void where the Twin Towers used to stand.
I remember what I was doing on September 10. I had a beautiful days-old daughter in my arms. I was planning her All-American childhood.
Her childhood was going rather well until 2008 when other children her age suggested her mother wasn't supporting Barack Obama because he was brown. That's when I realized the Race Card is far more evil than anything Islamofascists could ever throw at us. November 4, 2008 is far more terrifying to me than September 11, 2001.
Paraphrasing from something James Lileks once wrote about Sept 11, 2001: Ten years out, the rest of our lives to go.
I remember EXACTLY where I was on 9/10: I flew out of Dulles airport, headed to Chicago.
I'll never forget watching the first tower fall, then looking out the glass atrium I was standing in, nearly straight-up at the height of the sears-tower, while the news was talking about an unknown number of other hijacked flights.
I'll also never forget that night - sitting in a big hotel conference-room watching the talking-heads and the endless replays of horrific images - as the overwhelming feeling of DREAD settled deep into my black little heart until I just couldn't stand it any more.
I'll never forget the look of... what? Disgust, I think - perhaps pity? It's hard to describe - but I'll never forget the look on the CEO of my company's face when I said "
Well, life as we've known it in America is DEAD, now -- we won't recognize this country ten years from now..."
He looked at me with this look on his face that made it clear that he thought I was stupid - or crazy maybe?
I guess it was the same sort of look that someone quite comfortable with their head in the sand would have been given to the guy who announced the fact that the great-depression was on its way on "Black Friday" in 1929, or some other similar, unpleasant pronouncement.
It was as if I'd ripped a loud and smelly fart - mixed with a small dash of pity for the pain that must have accompanied it, and a larger desire to get away from its source (me) in case it was contagious...
But I KNEW - in that one, horrible moment, I KNEW - what was coming, as inexorable as the sunrise or the tide...
God help us...
How might the lives of millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions abroad, would have been different but for the acts of war carried out at UBL's direction?
(CAA would still be an FSO, as he already was one on 9/11, although he'd almost certainly not have spent a year of his life in Iraq not long afterwards.)
Y'know, I get why the civilized West tries to fight wars the way it does everything else these days; i.e., at the direction of lawyers. They, in this Godless age, substitute for the theologians who might have given such counsel in earlier times. It's not yet come to the point where such folks clear out of the way for more Jacksonian policy makers, the sort who spring from America's yoemanry and actually fight its wars.
I've quoted you and linked to you here:
Wow! I could not even guess about it)) Not bad.
Joan of Arrgh - The choice was set out a long time before 9/11. Actually, it was set out on 3/13/624, as Americans write it. 9/11 was merely the latest episode (at that time) in a war that has now gone on for 1,387 years.
The war could have been ended in half an hour, on 9/11 or maybe 9/12. By arranging for the tall man of smoke that wears a wide hat to bend over Mecca, Medina, Qom - and Riyadh.
But it wasn't done. And therefore those four places will be joined by:
Jakarta, Cairo, Istanbul, Karachi, Dhaka, Lagos, Tehran, Lahore, Baghdad, Kuala Lumpur, Khartoum, Riyadh, Alexandria, Ankara, Algiers, Bandung, Kabul, Jeddah, Casablanca, Surabaya, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Izmir, Mashhad, Karaj, Amman, Aleppo, Dubai, Damascus, Tashkent, Tunis, Medan, Sana'a, and Kuwait City.
Just for starters.
Carthago delenda est. Absolutely goddamn right.
Gerard, man, you stand alone. But, I guess, not alone after all.
Great piece. Once again you have nailed it...
Ironic that one of the bright spots on 9/11/01 was the example set by the Mayor of NYC as he did his part in handling the situation. Now the current mayor (Blumberg) has decreed that there will be not room for prayer at the 10th anniversary ceremony at Ground Zero. Much like the vermin who committed the attrocities of that day, he doesn't deserve the right to set foot on that hallowed grouond.
Keep up the good work. Keep the memory alive.
"We Will Never Forget!"
What did our government do? They enlisted the likes of the Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Ground Zero Mosque iman.. And of course, currently, President Hussein endorses The Muslim Brotherhood. American Muslims try to compare themselves to Jews in Nazi Germany. It's the new "race card". And UBL's alleged assassination does NOT make me feel better. Not with President Hussein in charge anyway. 2012 canNOT come soon enough - I think 9/11/11 is going to be the moment America snaps out of the Obama spell, seeing him, in all his empty and smug glory, juxtaposed against Ground Zero.
For once I agree with Fletcher.
We should have nuked them.
Instead, Bush tried to bring some hope to that blighted region by taking out its two worst regimes.
In retrospect, it was one more attempt to make the mid east safe for democracy- a democracy that will put in power the worst of those who mean to kill us.
We should have nuked the bastrds.
Keep your powder dry. The shit has not hit the fan yet. We've been playing cowboys and shitheads, but we'll eventually get to cowboys and motherfuckers. The human heart cries out for justice, and the hour draws neigh.
I don't remember anything about 9/10 but everything about 9/11. I remember hearing the news and getting angry as hell. I thought ,can I sign up, I've been to war before. Of course they don't enlist 53 year olds so that didn't happen. My clearest memory is of a high school football game in Alabama on Friday night and tears streaming down my face during the Star Spangled Banner. I fear more now, not the middle eastern fascist devils we must kill, but the incompetent eunuchs who rule us and trample our birthright under their feet. God help us all.
They showed their hand too soon. Not soon enough will come for them the blazing, burning, darkness of their ruin.
Yes, yes, I know some years before they'd bombed the WTC and now came back for more, much more.
Yes, their demonic diplomats and dastards had warned us in word and many a smaller deed that our death was their desire -- but we did not heed.
We slept in our innocence, apathy, and dreams until awakened, bewildered again, on 9-11-01, to an avalanche of screams.
Again? you ask, in the full light of a Sunday's sun, of December 7, 1941.
Thank you, Gerard,
I don't know how to count the loss and gain of the last decade at my house. It won't fit on a spreadsheet. My mind flashes back to my carefree teenage son and his rowdy buddies invading the refrigerator and pantry a decade ago, concerned about girls, parties, summer's end, their nebulous futures. My son was the first of them to enlist, and three more were inspired by him to follow suit. We saw one of them off to Afghanistan last week, an infantry squad leader now. My son says he's going to a bad place.
This week, my son, returned from Afghanistan in August with his Special Forces team, was sitting on the sofa in the middle of the night, reaching deep in himself to talk with his father of war, and of death, and of spending his entire adult life preparing for, going to, and coming from combat with a fanatical enemy. He spoke of the horror of walking through the carnage of the deadliest bombing in Iraq in 2007, and how one instant that day still defines it all for him: a father holding out the shredded remains of his daughter to him, the American who surely must have the magic medicine to resurrect her. He knows he has paid a dear personal price for America and for his comrades-in-arms, and that price has bought him a position shoulder-to-shoulder with heroes and warriors worthy of legend, glory, and honor. I could not be more proud of him as a father and as an American, nor can I be in less despair over the cost I see him bear. He now trains to redeploy to Afghanistan in a few months. War is hell, but only a few go through the gates.
I made a slight mistake and included Riyadh twice - a cut-and-paste job was involved.
I would apologise for the error; but thinking about it, I'm not at all sure that including Barad-dur aka Riyadh twice was actually an error at all.
I had a rather unusual experience of 9/11.
I had been living by myself in a large apartment for a number of years, and my parents were living in their house, my childhood home. My mom died in March 2001, and so my dad was living by himself. (It didn't occur to me until much later that, at age 81, it was probably the first time in his life that he had ever lived alone. He went from his parents' house to the Navy in WWII, then got married almost as soon as the war was over. He was married to my mom for 54 years.)
I knew his health was declining, but I didn't comprehend just how bad it was. I knew he used oxygen and a walker sometimes, but he had a nurse visit every couple of days and some neighbors who could drive him places. He spent a week in the hospital in early September; I don't remember what for. I would stop by to visit him in the evenings after work. On Friday, September 7 when I visited, one of the nurses sat me down and explained that they wanted to discharge him on Monday, but they couldn't send him home alone in his condition. The nurse told me that he had emphysema, chronic back pain, diabetes, and that his feet were starting to go bad. The nurse told me that either I would have to move in to help look after him or that he would need a live-in nurse. That would be very expensive and his insurance didn't cover it.
I drove home that night in a state of shock. I was feeling a complicated mixture of emotions. I was worried about my dad's condition, I had zero experience as a caregiver so I was frightened about what I might have to do (prepare his meals? change diapers? what?), and I was also feeling resentment that my comfortable, tranquil, independent life was about to come to a sudden end.
Both of my parents were pack-rats, and I inherited that tendency. I spent all day Saturday at my dad's house clearing out a bedroom to move in to. I spent all day Sunday packing up my essential stuff and making several trips to move it to my dad's house. (I would keep the apartment for several more months to store most of my things, moving them little by little as I cleared space.) On the last trip in the evening, I packed up my two cats in their carriers and moved them. They were not at all happy about it. I can still see the look on Leo's face and hear his meows of protest as I turned him loose in his new unfamiliar surroundings.
On Monday morning I called my boss and explained the situation to him. I took that day off, and also said that I would be a couple of hours late on Tuesday because a visiting nurse and a representative from Meals on Wheels wanted to have a meeting with us. I picked up my dad at the hospital and spent the rest of the day settling in as best I could.
The meeting was scheduled for 9:00 Tuesday morning. We would sit at the dining room table and go over the things each of us would be responsible for. As the two women arrived just before nine, my dad, who was up in his den watching TV, called down to me to turn on the TV in the living room. I saw the first tower burning and assumed that it was a tragic accident. But, plane crashes happen and there was nothing I could do about it. The meeting got underway and I left the TV on with the sound turned down. To say it was a surreal scene would be an understatement. I didn't even think of it as surreal at the time. I was so focused on the situation at hand that the TV was just an annoying background distraction.
To this day I don't know whether I saw the second plane hit live or on a taped replay. The thing is, my life had already been turned upside down even before the first plane hit.
So yes, I do remember the days leading up to 9/11.
Ripley: "I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
We should have nuked Mecca and Medina on 9/12/2001.
It was the condign penalty for harming the Homeland.
There would not be another attack on the US for 100 years. Islam would have shriveled up and died.
Thank you for raising such a fine young warrior and for sharing this personal experience. A close bond between a father and son is a special thing and is deeply relevant to all that we hold dear.
As you say, your son has paid an awful price. Seeing barbarism up close and personal cannot help but change any decent human. He is not alone. He stands in a line that stretches all the way back to the Revolution. I thank God for such men. They have purchased our freedom and done it willingly.
May your time with your son be filled with meaning and love. You both deserve it - in spades.
Well, whatever anyone might say about the concept of royalty, at least the current generation of UK royals is doing their part. 2nd child of the current heir flying Apaches against the savages, and the firstborn flying SAR. Neither is exactly a sinecure.
There's some life in us yet.
My everlasting gratitude to you and your noble warrior son, on behalf of my children who sleep well tonight because of him and many others like him; May their rewards be great and their souls exalted in the Lord's house as remembrances of their weighty sacrifices and the mighty battles waged against the evils of the world are recounted.
I've probably mentioned this essay somewhere along the way, but if you have a few minutes, check this out:
The Three Conjectures
The scenario is hair-raising (who wants to think about the incineration, however necessary, of a billion souls?), and the matter is still topical.
Pikesville, People's Democratic Republic of Maryland