Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9.11.2001

It was the day that changed so much in our country.  While it would be hard to say that a country that has been through a civil war, two world wars as well as tough wars in Korea and Vietnam still had its innocence, in many ways it felt that way as we watched the events of 9/11 unfold.  We knew in the back of our heads that there were terrorists out there, both foreign and domestic.  We'd seen the World Trade Center attacked before and a crazy lone wolf bomb Oklahoma City.  But we'd never seen anything like this.  2,977 victims dies that day, almost all civilians.  Two of the most iconic buildings on the New York City skyline were erased forever.  And it was the catalyst for two brutal wars, an Iraq war that would claim the lives of 4,792 U.S. service men and women and a war in Afghanistan that would claim 1,664 of our soldiers.

It changed our day-to-day lives too.  The Patriot Act reduced freedoms that we had come to expect by allowing extreme measures like wiretaps without warrants.  The new Department of Homeland Security introduced much tougher security measures at airports.  And, despite our progressive protestations to the contrary, none of us ever thought the same way about an Arab face on a commercial airline flight again as we fought to fight our nature to stereotype.

It impacted popular culture in many ways too.  Bill Maher was fired from ABC for saying that the hijackers weren't cowards (he has since found work at HBO.)  NYPD and NYFD t-shirts and hats became the most popular items of clothing in the country.  Shows like Lie to Me and 24 rose to the height of popularity.

Patriotism became stylish again.  I've never seen the nation as unified as it was after 9/11.  We rediscovered how much we love this country through our anger at those who attacked it.  Our differences of race, religion and party all seemed meaningless, if only for a time.

On 9/11, we were all Americans, all New Yorkers, all patriots.  Our economy is weaker than it was 10 years ago.  Our political system is dysfunctional.  Our budget deficit is huge.  But our spirit is unbroken.  Osama Bin Laden is in a watery grave and we are still standing, unafraid.

God Bless America.

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