I woke up with a start. The telephone was ringing right at my head; it was my aunt calling. Once I was done with the brief conversation, I reached for the television remote, turned on the set, and turned to MSNBC. What happened next surprised the shit out of me: I stumbled right on the re-broadcast of the September 11, 2001 of the "Today Show," 9:02 am. Right there on my television was the second plane hitting the South Tower of the World Trade Center. And I did something I hadn't done since that day nine years ago, when I was sitting in my cousin's office after having been evacuated from the Library of Congress: I cried.
Oddly enough, my tears were not for the events I was watching. No, my tears were for my country on this ninth anniversary of this American tragedy. Seriously. Everything from the Lower Manhattan Islamic Center, to the trick ass "preacher" threatening to burn Korans, to the growing push to blame all Muslims for the actions of 19 fucks, and their still at-large leader, to the torture done in my name as an American by the previous administration (and Cheney's continual bragging about it), to President Obama's support of assassinating American citizens without due process, if they are deemed terrorists, to people trying to make Obama into a Muslim, because they see that as being yet another way to impugn his character (as if being a Muslim, in and of itself, is a bad thing), to the protests against mosques and Islamic centers around this nation, even those that have been in communities for decades, all came into my mind as I watched that plane hit the South Tower, while the North Tower burned.
I rarely give former President Bush credit for anything good, but he did the right thing in making it clear that our fight is with the people who organized the worst terrorist attack on American soil, not with Muslims in toto. Yet now, with President Bush gone, it's clear to me that many of his supporters were simply playing along until he left office. Now that he is gone....
I still remember how quiet it was in Washington that evening nine years ago. I still remember staying up all night wanting more information. I remember calling my friends in New York, and checking on my friends around Washington. I remember that friends of friends didn't come home that evening (three, if I recall correctly, and all in New York), and though I didn't know them, I felt for my friends who did know them. But what I've witnessed these last few months, particularly over this Islamic center, has made me feel nothing but shame. I feel like we are slowly but surely letting the fucks who attacked us on that day win. And it hurts more, because I know that we should be a better people than that.
September 11, 2001 was a tragic day in American history, no doubt. But we have survived worse tragedies. More importantly, we've come out a better nation, stronger in our principles, each time. Sometimes, when I look at our current political landscape, our talking heads and politicians, and some of my fellow citizens, I wonder if we have the same mettle our forefathers and ancestors had. Are we capable of looking evil in the face and staying true to ourselves as Americans, remaining the nation with the moral high ground? Or, have we been so cowed, so spooked, that we are willing to destroy those very principles that made us the envy of the world?
On this particular anniversary, I am not sure what that answer is.
"Anniversary" Suzanne Vega