Having been shaped almost exclusively by the geopolitical events that have occurred in the past five years, it almost seems heretical to ask these things, but throughout my philosophical quest, I got into the habit of questioning beliefs that felt near and dear… Did 9/11 really change everything? Did 9/11 really require a paradigm shift in the way we dealt with the world?
Were we justified in invading Afghanistan? Would a preemptive attack on Afghanistan been justified, prior to 9/11?
Just how big a threat are the various Islamic radicals?
Does the Middle East need democracy? How should we spread democracy? Should America be more patient?
It would’ve been impossible for me to ask these questions yesterday. I thought I felt okay, but on that day, I realized that there was still a big gaping wound. 9/11 still hurts. There is nothing that I love more than my country, and to see it attacked…. I want to say that it feels like someone punched me in the gut, but it goes deeper than that… as if someone was able to wound my soul. 5 years later, I can’t help it. It still hurts.
It was fascinating going through the links Lloyd provided from the kids who were only in 3rd and 4th grade when it happened. It seems like ages ago to them. They couldn’t even fully comprehend what was going on. (And I noticed at least two of them remembering carpet. I don’t know what that means.) To me, 9/11 wasn’t ages ago. First of all, 5 years doesn’t seem as long a period of time as it used to. (It happens when you get older.) Secondly, it still feels like yesterday when it happened. Well, perhaps not yesterday. More like a month ago. It’s like when you stare at a bright light and it leaves an after-image when you close your eyes. That day burns brightly compared to everything else.
There were so many things I wanted to write about yesterday, but I refrained from writing. Yesterday wasn’t about me. For me, every 9/11 will always be about them. The dead.
There were people outside on the street waving peace signs. I suddenly became very angry, even though I recognized that it was probably irrational to be that way. To me, it felt like they were disrespecting the 3000 people who died on that day. I thought, “We tried peace in ’93. They came back 8 years later and knocked the towers down.” That oversimplifies the issue, in retrospect, but I still can’t shake the feeling that these people want to bury their heads in the sand. Yesterday, I was 100% sure Afghanistan was justified because 3000 people died and we helped disrupt al-Qaeda such that killing another 3000 would be extremely, extremely difficult. I felt like they didn’t care about bringing the killers to justice. I thought, “This day is about them, not you or your stupid political agenda. Shut up.” All this just from seeing them on the street. I was completely flustered for many hours afterward. Like I said, it wasn’t 100% rational, but it’s impossible for me to act rationally on the anniversary of September 11.
Every year, I mark the day with one word: Remember. It contains everything I want to say. It’s many things at once to me. It’s a solemn reminder to remember the tragic events. It’s a note of defiance, a warning to the terrorists that we will never forget and we will bring you to justice. It’s a wake-up call: America, don’t let this happen again. I’m not sure how one word can mean that much to me. Perhaps it’s because it takes me back to that day and all the emotions I had at the time. Perhaps it’s not the word. Perhaps it’s just the act of remembering. Just the pure, unadulterated act of remembering. For me, to add commentary would be to taint the memory.
And so, on that day, I will always continue to only put that one word. 9/11 will forever be dedicated to the act of remembering for me, until the day when Islamofascism has been utterly defeated.