It's five years later, and what have you learned?
Some of us still sit here in numbed silence over what we saw that day. Some of us feel the anger and rage of injustice, of loss, of a circle not exactly closed. In lower Manhattan, a cruise missile's throw from my office, there's a giant hole in the ground with a big fence around it, and a few structures that continue to stand beyond the perimeter, shrouded in cloth like mourner's at a funeral. People argue and complain over a "memorial." Others make movies about a flight that crashes into a field in Pennsylvania, or the valiant efforts of policemen trapped under rubble.
Are you bewitched, bothered, bewildered about that day, what's been done since, about the state of the world now? Do these "anniversaries" warm you like toasted pop tarts with a sense of sympathy, community, and civic duty? Or is your heart twisted like so much smoldering metal, unable to straighten or cool itself from the pain or sadness that continues to grip it? Five years later, man. I morbidly joke with co-workers that it's too much of a temptation that the Brooklyn Bridge is so close to our building. Most days we feel like walking like zombies off of the side if we think too much about what's half a mile away.
But President Bush assures us that we're all much more secure than we were before. Try and remember that when you have to strip down to your skivvies and hand over your shampoo bottles before boarding that plane. Oh, and please take no offense if someone pulls you aside for, say, several years, because you're not exactly white and your name has a suspicious number of vowels or hyphens. And remember, there is no one tapping your telephone calls or compiling your internet searches into huge databases. That's urban legend. Osama may still be out there redecorating one cave after the other, but hey, Saddam's in custody. That has to count for something, right?
More military personnel and civilians have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan "securing the region of tyranny" or "fighting the war on terror" than those victims of the 9/11 attacks. Hmm, and "attack" is a strange word. A good majority of folks out there think it was all a conspiracy. Honestly. There are no lack of sites showing videos of the tower's fall that illustrate explosions below the areas of fire and smoke, indicating what looks an awful like controlled demolition of high-rise buildings. Maybe the same guys that shot JFK or jacked up gas prices or cancelled "Arrested Development" have something to do with it.
But, what does it matter now? Do you feel nestled any deeper into the collective safety of the legislative womb now than you did 5 years ago? Are you more cared for and free of medical/emotional/psychological complication? Ask that of the 70% of rescue workers and survivors of the WTC tragedy (not to mention the thousands of NYC residents) that suffer with rapid onset of cancer, lung disorders, PTSDs, and wrecked relationships. Secure? Might be nice just to start the day without coughing up blood or shaking off a cold sweat.
Trust me, I do not make light of any of this. Humor is the only therapy I have. Without it, I would have fallen in front of a subway train long ago.
So, it's five years later, and I ask you, what have you learned....about that day, the United States, our government, or yourself? Do you still have faith and hope, or have they vanished into nothingness like two towers that once anchored the city skyline?