Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Lost Decade

Every year since 9/11 occurred, the same routine has been played out at the WTC site: families gather and read all the names of the victims, political figures loom and read poems, someone plays or sings some sentimental music in an effort to help people grieve and remember the tragedy of that day. I've watched the memorial on TV most years and until this year it never really hit me that maybe it's time to just let things be. Yes, the 10th anniversary is a big deal and should have been treated as such. The 9/11 memorial officially opened today and the families were treated to the first look at this glorious tribute to their loved ones. But instead of going above and beyond, the same routine was replayed over and over again on TV for 4 hours. I understand the need for people to mourn, but have these yearly memorials really been helpful? Have they helped to ease the pain or have they belittled a tragic event in our nation's history? Families of those lost on 9/11 live with the grief every day. They remember every day. And for the past 9 years we've grieved along with them on this day. But maybe, it's time to leave well enough alone. To let them deal with it on their own, to mourn and remember in their own ways.

Do we really need to continue these lethargic monologues and canned speeches being read by former Presidents and Governors and Mayors year after year? Who are we really doing it for at this point? For the people in the Midwest who have never even been to NY, never known anyone who died on 9/11, so they can have some kind of holiday to cling on to and celebrate with their God Bless Americas and their American flags and eagles on the back of their pickup trucks and their ignorance about Muslims? Several news outlets this week asked people to share their 9/11 stories, their "where were you" stories. I'm sorry if it makes me a bitch or an elitist or insensitive, but I don't need to hear the 9/11 story of someone who was 2000 miles away - to hear that on that day they were in their pig farm or in church or in their college dorm. I want to hear stories of real people, New Yorkers, who were there, who lived it, who knew people living it, who were terrified, who knew that in that moment their lives were changing forever.


September 11,2001: 9/11 meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But most of all, it meant something major for America. It mean that American would never be the same again. It seemed for every step forward America had made in its history, it was taking so many steps backward. In the days after, people began to turn on each other. There were hundreds of hate crimes against Muslims and widespread racial profiling. The Patriot Act was passed in the month following 9/11 to help "fight terrorism" along with a military campaign in the Middle East touted as the "War on Terror". The TSA was created in November 2001 to try and secure our airports as the hijackers were able to waltz past our seemingly lax airport security on 9/11. Ironically, Richard Reid - aka the Shoe Bomber - was able to board a flight just a few days before Christmas with a bomb in his shoe which he was attempting to light and blow up a plane. (Yeah, you can thank that guy for the whole annoying process of having to take your shoes off at the airport and holding up the security line. Way to go, bro.)

The Department of Homeland Security was created in 2002 and merged with INS to try and control immigration and our borders and released that oh-so-easy to remember color coded advisory chart.

What began in 2001 as an invasion in Afghanistan to capture Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda operatives strangely spread to Iraq in 2003, where we captured Saddam Hussein on December 13, 2003. (Hmm, that's funny. I don't remember Saddam Hussein having anything to do with the 9/11 attacks?)

2004: Michael Moore released his controversial documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" in what was already a very controversial election year. Hoping to sway the vote toward the Democratic party by revealing the lies and deception of the Republican party, he opened the film with the results of the 2000 election in which Al Gore won the popular vote, yet surprisingly lost the election to George W. Bush. He continues to undermine the Bush administration, drudging up Bush's lack of reaction time during the morning of 9/11 as he stuck around to finish reading "My Pet Goat" to a group of elementary school students, as well Bush's service record in the National Guard. He also focuses on the fact that Government officials were aware of threats made by Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, yet failed to act accordingly and concludes that the military movement from Afghanistan to Iraq was driven by the thirst for Middle Eastern oil reserves and G Dubya's quest to get back at the guys who tried to kill his Daddy. Moore also highlights how the war's "Patriotism" marketing campaign has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of young men and women, especially those in low income areas who were promised thousands of dollars in sign up bonuses to fight for their countries; bonuses that will never get used as these soldiers are never making it home from this war - and leaves many wondering what the real purpose of the war is for.

November 2, 2004: George W Bush, running on a ticket of religious ignorance, abortion banning and the promise to write an amendment against Gay marriage (aka the Defense of Marriage Act), is re-elected for a 2nd term on November 2, 2004, despite the best efforts of the Democratic party.

July 7, 2005: Bombings occur in London's transit system during rush hour. Islamic terrorists take credit.

August 9, 2006: A terrorist plot to use liquid explosives to blow up airplanes is uncovered. Thanks assholes. Because I really only need 3oz of shampoo on a week long vacation.

November 5, 2006: Saddam Hussein is found guilty of crimes against humanity.

December 30, 2006: Saddam Hussein is hanged to death. A grainy cell-phone video of the execution makes waves across the internet.

September 2007: Oil passes the $80/barrel mark.

October 2007: Oil passes the $90 mark.

January 2, 2008: Oil passes the $100 mark for the first time ever.

January 21, 2008: Stock markets plummet on the possibility of a US recession, fueled by the subprime mortgage crisis.

August 28, 2008: Barack Obama becomes the first African American nominee for President. His campaign promises hope and change. Many questions are raised about his background and heritage as he was born of a white mother and an African father in Hawaii and attended school overseas in Indonesia. Some questioned if he was really born in the US at all and therefore that would make him ineligible to run for president. Some claimed that he was a Muslim because of his middle name of Hussein and was in cahoots with the terrorists and couldn't be trusted. Others still simply were racist against him for being African American. However, Obama was overwhelmingly popular with the youth vote, with the minority vote and a star with celebrities - being backed by many of the biggest names in Hollywood.

November 5, 2008: Barack Obama is elected the first "Black President" in the history of the United States. He promises Universal healthcare for all the to bring all of our troops home by 2011.

January 20, 2009: Barack Obama is official inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States.

May 2, 2011: Osama Bin Laden has been captured in Pakistan and killed in a compound by Navy SEAL team 6. This is later confirmed in a public address by President Obama on live television. He proclaims that this was never a war on Islam - Bin Laden was murderer, not a leader, killing many people including his own.

The American economy is in shambles as a result of the War on Terror. Billions of dollars that were dumped into defense were siphoned from areas of our country that could have used it the most. Banks go under and President Obama attempts to try and bail them out. 14 million American are without jobs and the unemployment rate hovers at 10%. Our Government almost defaulted on its debts and America's credit rating dropped. Republicans and Democrats are at odds fighting over their own political bullshit as millions of Americans feel lost, buried in the rubble - hopeless, jobless, homeless.

Peace? Freedom? Equality? What do those things even mean anymore? They're nothing but lost symbols of what America used to be. In a year before what could possibly be an even more important election then our last, where is all that Hope and Change now? We as Americans want to believe in it, to believe it exists, that it can happen and help. That things can change so that we have hope. We hope that our Government will put our interests above their own and create change. We don't need any more buzzwords in this upcoming election - We need action. We need results. We know that it's tough but it can be done.

Tomorrow, President Obama will present his American Jobs Act to Congress which he hopes will jump start the economy. We need this, not just as a people but as a nation. America needs this to move forward, to reclaim this lost decade of progress and to make America the great nation we remember it being 10 years ago.Sure, we still have a lot of ground to recover but perhaps 10 years from now we will be having a different kind of memorial: a memorial of the day when America got a brand new start.

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