Everyone remembers where they were when they found out about the attacks on 9/11. But what many of us have forgotten the collective pain, the reasons we were attacked, and the appeasement that made the terrorists strong. Our government has returned to the pre 9/11 mindset of treating terrorist acts as crimes and the terrorists as criminals who can be rehabilitated. Most importantly we’ve forgotten that the hateful ideology, the malignancy of their terrorist tactics is still alive and very well.
It was fourteen years ago but I still remember driving into the city at six a.m. that day as I did every day, but for some reason as my car made its way over the bridge which led to the midtown tunnel, my eyes looked downtown at the two towers of the World Trade Center and thinking that it was a particularly beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. Little did I know that just a few hours later the towers would fall and the sky would be totally black filled with the black smoke of terrorism.
Three hours after leaving my house, I was sitting in my office at Nickelodeon (I was the publisher of Nickelodeon Magazine) working on 2002 projections when I received an AOL IM from my brother “hey Jeff some idiot just flew a plane into one of the trade center towers.”
Working for a TV Network had its advantages, I had a TV hooked up to cable in my office. I quickly grabbed the remote, and turned on MSNBC (it was a news network back then). As soon as the set turned on, it showed a plane flying into one of the Trade Center towers. At the time I thought it was an instant replay of what my brother messaged me about, but it was the second tower being hit.
The same thing happened later when the impossible occurred; one of the towers collapsed, then the other.
It was all so surreal running through my mind was this couldn’t happen didn’t they know this was the United States of America. But it was happening and only a mile and a half from where I sat. Eventually we learned it also happened at the Pentagon the home of our military, and the passengers of a fourth plane attacked the terrorists who crashed their plane preventing it to be flown into the capital building.
Much of the rest of the morning is a blur, my staff crowded into my office we watched in horror as people jumped off the burning tower to their deaths. Then again as we saw the smoldering Pentagon building and finally as each tower collapse. We even heard rumors of a fourth plane that was shot down over Pennsylvania (in actuality Flight 93 was purposely crashed by the Hijackers because the brave passengers had decided to take control of the plane back).
At twelve noon there was an announcement the East River crossings were once again open allowing people to travel back to Long Island. I called my wife to tell her I was coming home, she begged me not to fearing another attack, but I had to get home and see my family. I raced for the garage and began a 40 mile drive that took way over four hours.
Outside my office less than two miles from the now smoldering ruins of the towers one could taste the air. Breathing felt strange because the air had a texture it felt like particles of glass were mixed in with the oxygen, and the air tasted almost like burning rubber.
Manhattan had always seemed larger than life, but that day it seemed small and vulnerable. Actually it wasn’t just Manhattan all of a sudden the most powerful nation on Earth, the shining city upon a hill, the United States that seemed vulnerable.
As my car crawled its way across the 59th Street bridge it looked like a scene from a bad “Godzilla” movie…crowds of shocked people were on the bridge, crossing on foot to make sure they got off that tiny island as soon as possible. It was a scene duplicated on the other NYC bridges.
But this was not “Chiller Theater” it was unbelievably real. Looking out my car window toward downtown Manhattan, the beautiful skyline and cloudless sky noticeable during the drive westward a few short hours before was replaced by an impenetrable curtain of black over the East River. The aroma of the invigorating autumn air was replaced by a noxious burning smell seeping into my car through the air vents.
|Escaping Manhattan on 9/11/01 Via The Brooklyn Bridge|
Everyone was trying to use their cell phones at the same time, so cells were overwhelmed and service was non existent. Three hours into my drive I finally reached my wife now frantic because I was out of touch for so long.
Finally my car made it out of the borough of Queens and into Nassau County and onto the Long Island Expressway, sometimes known as the world’s largest parking lot…but it wasn’t a parking lot that day.
The traffic wasn’t just light, it was eerily non-existent (especially on the west bound lanes which lead back into the city). At every single exit Nassau County police cars were blocking the west bound on ramps. The message those police cars were sending was very clear, people were free to leave New York City but no one was getting back into Manhattan until the authorities knew for sure that this first foreign attack on the continental US since1814 was over.
After finally reaching home, I spent the rest of the day watching the first reports of heroism, or the serendipitous reports of people who were delayed from being at their offices in the towers on time—saving their lives.
At 7:45 pm I drove to my Synagogue for the evening minyan. Usually we had a group of 15-20 people at evening prayers, but this day was different. People began to filter into Shul in groups, fellow congregants who’s Synagogue appearances are usually limited to the High Holy days showed up to pray. Each one (like me) had a dull shocked look on their face, slowly walking into the Sanctuary. Our normal crowd of less than two dozen was more than three hundred, desperate to appeal to God for the safety of their friends and family whose fates were still unknown and for the success of their country in the war they knew would follow.
This scene was duplicated in Houses of God, for many faiths from ‘sea to shining sea.”
September 11 was not the first terrorist attack against the United States, the attack was foreshadowed by incidents such as the First Trade Center bombing and the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. And those attacks came after years of world-wide appeasement of other terror, especially in Israel but instead of heeding those warnings we were told slogans like one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.
It was only after 9/11 that this country realized that there was a worldwide network of people willing to kill themselves to bring down our way of life. Only after 9/11 did we stop searching for “criminals” and begin a war against Islamist Terrorists (at least for a little while) at least until the 2006 midterm elections, when the Democratic Party was rewarded for treating the war on terror as a political issue with large gains in congress. But it was not just the Democrats, President Bush opened the door to the criticism by launching a second war, this time into Iraq which at first had the support of both parties but after ousting the tyrant Saddam Hussein, the war was mismanaged by the president, and it took a surge operation which finally provided the necessary manpower and tools for our brave heroes to finally win this war (at least until the next president decided to pull out all the troops and pull defeat out of the jaws of victory).
Despite president Obama says, we are fighting a war against Islamists who use terrorism, or whatever the Department of Homeland Security wants to call it this week, to destroy the the West our freedoms and lifestyle. People who want to use violence to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate. Theirs is a very patient ideology that will wait centuries if necessary to kill the evil “great Satan.” That is their advantage, we are a culture who demands immediate gratification, instant victory.
In 2008 we elected a President who refused to recognize our enemy. An attack on our heroes by an Islamist terrorist at Fort Hood was called “work place violence.” In 2012 when a terrorist attack killed four brave Americans at our mission in Benghazi, Libya we were told it wasn’t terror it was just a mob angry about a lousy video on Youtube. When the Boston Marathon was attacked we called it terror but “lone wolf” type terror, not attacking those who radicalized the two murders.
Today we are still fighting terror, but our battle against a newer group ISIS is being fought tepidly, almost as our objective is to contain the terrorists rather than to destroy them. Terrorists have taken over Libya, most of Syria, and part of Iraq. This summer the president negotiated an agreement with Iran, the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism which will give them $100-150 billion more to attack people in the western world. Despite the fact that two thirds of the country objects, member of the president’s party have forgotten 9/11 and support that awful Iran treaty.
And on 9/11/15 for the first time since that day which changed the world a U.S. President was not at the ceremony at Ground Zero nor the one at the Pentagon. He did have a moment of silence at the White House, but absent from the site of the attacks.
Pushed by the Democratic Party we are balancing the bloated federal deficit by gutting our nation’s defenses. Whether they mean to or not, these cuts make it more likely that America suffering through the horrors of 9/11 again and again.
Far too many people have forgotten the taste of the air, the curtain of black smoke, the scenes of horror, acts of bravery everything associated with that horrible day that changed our lives.
Fourteen years after that horrible Tuesday morning for too many the answer to Darryl Worley’s epic song “Have You Forgotten?” is yes (the song is embedded at the bottom of this post).
May we never forget the evil that attacked us on 9/11 even if our leaders do. May God continue to comfort the bereaved and May the memories of the dead always be for a blessing.
Lord who grants salvation to kings and dominion to rulers, Whose kingdom is a kingdom spanning the entire universe and all eternities; Who places a road in the sea and a path in the mighty waters – may you bless the President, the Vice President, and all the constituted officers of government of this land. May they execute their responsibilities with intelligence, honor, compassion and love for the constitution wonderfully crafted by our founding fathers. May you grant them the understanding that the threat of terrorism still exists, and the knowledge of how to eradicate it from the world you created. May you always bless these United States and provide our leaders with the comprehension of your role in making this republic the land of the free and the home of the brave.