September 11th, 2001 – An End, and A Beginning

Posted: September 11, 2006 in Blitherings, Random Thoughts, Religion of Pieces

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the day I stood in my parent’s living room and watched the towers burn. Older generations ask if you remember where you were when Kennedy was shot, or when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I remember the Challenger explosion, and the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Strangely, my first reaction when I saw those images, when I watched the second plane smash into the tower, was not fear, was not rage, or anything related. I instead felt a black humor, a grim resignation and instant resolve.  The first words out of my mouth were, “So it begins.”

I’m still not sure exactly what I meant by that, but my mom is convinced that it was Prophetic. I’ve long held a passing fascination with end-times eschatology and the Biblical foretellings of doom. I’ve watched as it seemed as though events were knitting together a strangely convergent tapestry of social evolutions and global revolutions heavily suggestive that some of those Biblical events were either occurring, or on the horizon.

The sheer, appalling audacity of the attacks on the WTC by the armies of Islam seemed to me to signal a turning of a corner, a bellwether event that marked the crossing of line past which we would likely never return. My fear, even then, was not for the efficacy of any direct attacks, but instead, for what those attacks would mean to our country, our culture, and our way of life.

I think my concern was founded, in that moment of illumination, in the sense that we might ultimately become our own worst enemy. That the victory of the Islamicists would not be because of the damage they inflicted upon us, but because of the damage they would cause us to inflict upon ourselves.

That concern hasn’t abated.

I lived in Spokane, Washington at the time, right beneath the busy air traffic corridor leading to SeaTac International in Seattle. I’ve always loved planes, and flying, and loved watching the big Jumbos winging their way westward, contrails in tow. For the longest time after 9/11, I could not look at those contrails without fear, without this dread that I would see one of those planes wing over and plummet to earth in the middle of downtown Spokane, or at the nearby Air Force base. For a while, I even stopped looking up, because it was easier to ignore them than to face the awful sense of impending destruction.

I hated the men of Islam who had taken that from me.

I don’t hate them anymore. I have settled into that same sense of grim resignation which comes from the understanding that even now, five years later, their motives, their means, and their goals have not changed. Their methods may have evolved, but their ultimate aim remains the same: To replace our way of life, with theirs. To destroy what we hold dear, what makes us who we are, and to build an empire of THEIR choosing on the ashes of our society

I consciously did not make this an emotional tribute or remberance of those who died on the planes and in the buildings on that fateful day.  Not only because there are plenty of others out there who will, but because to me, it is every bit as important to remember WHO killed them and WHY.  Perhaps moreso.

The acts of destruction committed on September 11th, 2001 were not isolated events. They were merely the most grandiose in a continuing string of attacks. And they were a clarion call announcing that the Islamic world felt confident enough to attack the United States on its own soil, attacking not just the symbol of our military, but of our culture, of our success, and of our freedoms.

For these are what they truly hate. And while we still have them, The Enemy will not cease to oppose us.  Let us remain ever vigilant, however, not just of the hand of The Enemy against us, but that we do not also become a worse enemy of freedom ourselves. 

 Steve Berven

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Comments
  1. kontan says:

    “it is every bit as important to remember WHO killed them and WHY”

    but how many have forgotten, or worse, no longer care?

  2. the forester says:

    Excellent post. Thank you for daring to keep our vigil up.

    On a similar note, this is something I wrote on another’s blog:

    Polls indicate a steady erosion of support for the war on terror — not just the war in Iraq, but for security measures here in America. The typical American has an attention span of about 30 minutes, so we might be credited for being concerned about future terror threats for two, three years after 9/11. Now, however, we are five years after the fact, and it is passing as a distant memory — in ourminds. But not in the minds of terrorists, who have an attention span many, many generations long.

    So the issue, then, is how to rally the American population’s support for efforts meant to protect the American population. And that is where Bush falls back on the tried and true: the Cold War rhetoric of “Defeat the enemy or be defeated!” Such speeches rallied us to the cause in the past; Bush hopes they will continue to do so, even though they ill-fit our current situation.

    What we lack is a different rhetoric that both 1) accurately describes the terrorist threat, and 2) avoids sounding anticlimactic. It’s no surprise that most superhero movies deal with threats of potentially planet-wide destruction — such a threat captivates. Imagine a superhero movie with a villain intent on flying a plane into a building. Such a villain must also be stopped, true — but somehow the rallying cry to do so is less intense.

  3. TBOB says:

    I guess my biggest concern/question is “Quis custodiet custodes ipsos” – Who will watch the watchers?

    My concern is not so much with the Patriot Act itself, or other methods or legislation, but rather, what sliding scale will be used over time to fold in any manner of other activities or political viewpoints as “terrorism related.”

    I see all the abuses the “War on Drugs” spawned, and I fear that, over time, the “War on Terror” will metastasize in the same way.

  4. Joe says:

    While you and I don’t always agree on policy and such…I wanted to take this this time to thank you for serving our country. You folks in uniform are the ones that keep our country safe. Thank you.

    Joe

  5. Steve B says:

    Thanks, Joe! And, you’re welcome.

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