Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Term of the Day: NATIONAL TRAGEDY
Eleven years ago today, the United States of America suffered a terrible blow. Within the span of seventeen minutes, two airliners (American Airlines flight 11 and United Airlines flight 175) crashed into the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center. Thirty-four minutes later, another airliner (American Airlines flight 77) crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A half-hour after that, a fourth airliner (United Airlines flight 93) crashed in Shanksville, PA., possibly having The White House as its intended target. In the midst of all this, the South Tower of the Twin Towers collapses, while the North Tower collapses twenty-one minutes after the crash of Flight 93. A little over seven hours after the collapse of the North Tower, Seven World Trade Center building collapses. Almost 3,000 persons, including first responders, died on that day.
A national tragedy, to be sure.
While there are those who disagree with the official story of what happened that day, and I admit I count myself among them, today is a day to focus on the victims, both those who died that day and this nation as a whole.
That it was the worst attack on America on American soil is sufficient to qualify the events eleven years ago as a national tragedy. The loss of so many lives is part and parcel of such a denotation. The element of surprise adds to the horror of that day. No citizen in America woke up that Tuesday morning in September of 2001 expecting anything like what happened to take place. I think back to an event that occurred sixty years earlier, the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and how the element of surprise added to the horror. The Oklahoma City bombing nearly 7 1/2 years ago would also be a similar example of the same.
There can be an argument made that our political and military involvement in affairs around the world, both known and unknown to the general public, but mostly unknown, has been an example of instigation to foreign entities. Seldom accepted as reality, or even in the realm of possibility, it has been vilified as nationalistic heresy, or unpatriotic behavior. This is not say that those who already have a hatred toward this country are really nice people or they never would have tried something, anything, against the U.S. if we hadn't meddled in their affairs. (That meddling can also be seen by them as the occupying of their country, absent of any attack on them directly.)
How anyone can say, without question, that they would absolutely hate it if any other foreign force occupied our country and that we should respond accordingly (forcefully), but that any country we occupy should just welcome us with open arms because we're the ones doing the occupying isn't nationalistic heresy. It's nationalist arrogance.
The surprising nature to the average U.S. citizen of the attacks and the loss of life in the thousands are part of the national tragedy of the events eleven years ago today. There are other elements of this tragedy as well, which became apparent after the day itself. It was announced just yesterday that Federal health officials included several forms of cancer, in relation to the various toxins released onsite and the first responders who were exposed to them. That it took eleven years for that to happen is a national tragedy. Efforts in Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden and other members of al-Qaeda being undermined for a stronger effort in Iran against Saddam Hussein to take place is a national tragedy.
The people of this country being led into a war based on lies is another national tragedy. (You might also want to research the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August of 1964 and check out the film The Fog of War.) It is also a national tragedy that the flag-draped coffins of U.S. military dead were not allowed to be photographed and published. They are our deceased citizens, our deceased military, and our deceased sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers, for crying out loud!
We have experienced a kind of rubber band effect in this country, and the same has happened in other countries around the world as well. Whereas we were fired up when this tragedy happened, we later found ourselves harshly divided over it. Do we stay to win in Iraq or leave...and what does "win" mean? Patriotism was labeled as flat-out, unwavering, unquestioning agreement with the government.
"All you have to do is tell [the people] they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Nazi leader Herman Göring
"A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government."
American author Edward Abbey
"Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government when it deserves it."
American author and humorist Mark Twain
"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."
from The Use of Force in International Affairs by the Friends Peace Committee (Philadelphia)
How love of one's own country excludes disagreement is disheartening and, I admit, frustrating. I love my country so much that I want it to do the right thing as often as possible. However, I love it so much that I know, as it is run and represented by human beings who inherently make mistakes, it will make mistakes. I hope those mistakes will be few and far between, and that when they happen, my country will "'fess up" and do what it takes to make things right. That is not hatred for one's own country, and saying it is not the absence of patriotism. Just the opposite.
Silence and acquiescence are unpatriotic.
While I can comment a great deal on the events eleven years ago and the years since, on this day, I remember and honor all those who lost their lives on that day of national tragedy. You were a part of your families' and loved ones' lives and you will always be missed. You were a part of the fabric of this country you called home and you will always be missed. May the loss we all suffered, directly or indirectly, compel us and others to never have to go through this again by the use of common sense, decency, and discernment. Then, and only then, can we turn this national tragedy into a national triumph. Rest in peace.