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my 9/11/01 memory, and what happened after 9/11.

September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001.

Those of us who were alive at the time, and who were not small children, remember that day.

I was working a swing shift, and wasn’t up in the earlier morning, because I’d gotten home late from work the night before, just as I always did during that month, and had needed to sleep in.

I came into the living room at .. I don’t know.. 11 am or bit later?

My dad was passively watching TV, just as he’d done the previous days, months..

What was on TV was not normal. I asked what was going on. Dad said, in his usual voice, that the World Trade Center had been attacked.

I watched for awhile. Perhaps my dad felt like I did. Too much to take in. Just some disaster on TV.

I felt kind of stunned, but didn’t experience a depth of feeling. I was tired, hadn’t had quite enough sleep.

Oh… the World Trade Center was hit by 2 planes, both towers collapsed, devastation everywhere.

My brother came by. Not sure. I very rarely got a visit from him before work.

I don’t know why he dropped in that day. Maybe needed some support, someone to talk to? He had his wife to talk to, but perhaps needed someone who could discuss current events with him, knew the political climate a little, etc.

We sat and watched for a little while longer.

Then he took me to Arby’s, (a roast beef sandwich fast food place), and we ate our food in the restaurant and watched the TV mounted to the ceiling.

Then, I’m not sure what happened. Either we had taken one car, and he drove me back home, or we had taken two vehicles, and I rode to work from there.

I was working as a telephone relay operator. Complicated job. I sat at a computer with a phone connection. A call from a deaf person using a teletext device hooked up to his or her phone would call into me, and I would read their message on the my screen, the number they wanted me to call.

When I got someone on the other end I would ask if they understood the phone relay process. If they did, I wouldn’t have to explain it. If they didn’t, I’d read from a script.

After explanation (if needed) I would type to the deaf person what the other person said at the other end of the line. Then, The deaf person would type a response, I’d read that, then the other person would speak and etc.

I walked from my car into work. It was hot. This was back in California, in the Central Valley.

It was a quiet evening and night at work. Only a few calls. Most just random conversations needing to be relayed, some discussion about what had happened.

Approximately four hours into my shift, I went out for my hour’s break.

I walked across the street to a small, independently owned pizza and Italian food place.

I sat down, probably had what’s called a pizza sandwich, and some fries. Just sat there and ate on my own, as I almost always did.

There was a big screen Tv in the restaurant. All of us diners watched quietly for the most part, viewing mostly what we had seen earlier, but with more coverage of the blinding dust and the rescue attempts, and so forth.

What really troubles me is that there were two dumb, big guys sitting at a nearby table behind and to the side of me.

One of them laughed. I felt sickened. Maybe he couldn’t deal with what he was seeing.. a view of bodies flying out of the towers, and so he laughed.

This still bothers me, ten years on.

After break, I went back to work. Got home late at night, eventually went to sleep.

That was what I did and experienced on September 11th, 2001.

Within weeks, on the news, it was told that there was some kind of military action going on in Afghanistan. We, on the day of September 11th, had heard the name “Osama bin Laden” for the first time. And, Afghanistan was in the news regularly for the first time since the 1980’s when that country was invaded and occupied by the Soviets. The Soviets were eventually defeated by Afghani freedom fighters, who members of the CIA and special forces armed and helped train.

Some of those freedom fighters, who were young during the 1980’s, were seasoned warriors, and eventually fought our troops.

There was no quick full scale invasion on of Afghanistan though, not for some time. I don’t know who was involved in that early skirmish.

Eventually attention shifted to Iraq, for no good reason. Pres. Bush, like just about all Americans, was lead by certain high officials in the CIA and Pentagon, and by Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and needed to be stopped.

Our military actions, which had started in.. 2003? were practically halted, and troops and resources diverted to Iraq. We could have possibly made some progress in Afghanistan, could have gotten bin Laden then, but instead American forces needlessly invaded Iraq.

Even if the events of 9/11 did not happen, American troops still would have probably invaded Iraq. There were no ties between the radical Muslim hijackers, who were mostly, like bin Laden, from Saudi Arabia.

Cheney and Rumsfeld had for many years felt that the previous Pres. Bush did not go far enough to stop Saddam in the first gulf war, in which Saddam’s forces had invaded Kuwait. Our military kicked the Iraqis out of Kuwait, and wiped out most of the military in Iraq, but did not kill Hussein or occupy the country.

Cheney and Rumsfeld and others tricked the rest of us into believing that invading Iraq was necessary. So we did.

American forces are still in Iraq today, although attention has been re-focused on Afghanistan.

In my opinion, VP Joe Biden was right. Within a year after he was elected VP, and serving under Pres. Obama, Biden said he (Biden) believed that a full scale invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was not practical. Instead, Biden argued, we should have small, concentrated raids carried about by special forces.

Obama didn’t go along with this plan, and American troops in large numbers still fight in Afghanistan.

According to recent news reports, Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group lead by bin Laden, is now in tatters and scattered over the face of the globe.

Bin Laden was (it was reported) killed on May 2, 2011.

Perhaps our troops really did some good in Afghanistan. Maybe they did largely disrupt Al-Qaeda. I don’t know. According to the news, the American military has been engaging another group, the Taliban, which is impossible to defeat, because the Taliban can hide in Pakistan, and American troops, and even drone aircraft, for the most part, cannot get at the Taliban forces in Pakistan, or any other radical Muslim groups there.

Biden’s plan to use small groups of special forces worked out. It was a small group of Navy Seals who killed bin Laden in Pakistan, according to news reports.

September 11th, 2001. The world changed, and hundreds of thousands of people are now dead because of those events, and the instability that followed.

American troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. Security is much tighter at airports. There have been no successful terrorist attacks these past ten years. Which shows our intelligence agencies have been doing good work.

Our world is different though. And worse, because of the actions of a few deranged men, who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, and who almost destroyed the American capitol building as well, or perhaps the White House, except that some heroic passengers on Flight 93 defeated their hijackers, and sent the plane down in Pennsylvania, before the hijackers could force the plane to reach its intended target in D.C.

It has been ten years. We pray for peace.

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