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By jank - Last updated: Thursday, September 11, 2003 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

September 11^th^ as a “photoblog”: day.

Just wanted to bump this up again. I’m going to drag the dig-it-al camera on the commute tomorrow/today and see if I can find anything worthwhile.

In any case, I just wanted to wish peace, love, happiness to everyone in the world who isn’t interested in killing Americans. And to extend fondest wishes to the 24 million in Iraq and the 10 million in Afghanistan who are finally getting to learn that freedom’s biggest reward is compromise. Crashing jets, burning buildings, and the threat of nuclear and other terror cannot crush the love of freedom.

Updated 9/11 0730

America isn’t perfect, but since a hot day in Philly two and a quarter centuries ago, we’ve been the proverbial ‘shining city on the hill.’ It’s been rough growing, and the US still isn’t perfect. But, judging from the clamor of folks from every other country on earth trying to get in, we still must be doing something right.

The odd thing for me, though, is unlike other strictly national observances like the Fourth and Thanksgiving, 9/11 doesn’t strike me as a day to be particularly patriotic. The stories of 9/11 weren’t flag waving and red-white-and-blue; they were intensely personal stories. Of friends, neighbors and Americans who woke up on a clear fall day, and boarded planes for field trips, rode the subway and elevators to jobs, and started the long wait for the firehouse call. By the end of the day, almost 4,000 of our friend, neighbors and co-workers were killed, many giving their lives trying to save others. And unlikely heroes were created.

Let’s not beat around the bush (NPI). The 4,000 dead two years ago were murdered, killed by people who would like little more than to see the US and freedom slip from the face of the earth. Some of them knew this in the minutes leading up to their deaths, and began to fight back with two words: Let’s roll.

That’s what I remember when this day rolls around each year. People I’d never met being murdered for the crime of being American. And the immediate, heartfelt response of the rest of the country rising together to try to save as many of them as possible, and avenge the rest.

Wow. This took a much darker turn than I’d meant it to. When I started, I intended to keep the focus on the spontaneous reaction of people working together to cope with the attacks. But bringing up images of the towers burning and crashing, a side of the Pentagon caved in, and Todd Beamer’s wife listening to her husband putting down his phone and rushing the cockpit brings back the visceral feelings of rage, of wondering what exactly those 19 bastards thought they were doing when they woke up that Tuesday morning.

Yamamoto knew that he had awakened a sleeping giant after December 7. I hope we can bring that realization to bin Laden and the rest of the folks who mean the US harm. December 7 1943 found us bogged down in Italy and New Guinea; September 11, 2003 finds Afghanistan and Iraq free and establishing democratic organizations. Knock wood, but there also haven’t been any other major acts of terrorism against the US or any of our allies. The 4,000 did not perish in vain.

Updated 9/11 0730 There’s an American tradition which holds that we’re pretty much content to let the rest of the world oppress and kill themselves as long as the violence is not a threat to US lives. We sat by for over two years in WWI and WWII while the Europeans killed each other in droves. It was completely clear that Hitler was beyond evil before we joined the Allies, but until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, it was about “Them”. Didn’t affect us much, except to give us a chance to pull out of the Depression thanks to the Pounds and Francs we were getting to make weapons.

Our engagements in the last two years haven’t been about oil, or racism; they have been concentrated and selective efforts to deny haven and support to those who would kill us.

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