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Epilogue to a Myth

It is seventeen years since the towers fell and American mythology is comfortably wrapped around the story the government would have you believe. In order to enjoy the bliss of ignorance you must first ignore the fact that WTC 7 fell down without every having being hit by a plane. It is obvious from the myriad videos available on YouTube that the building was demolished. There is even a video in which the owner of the building admits that they had "to pull" it for safety sake. That means the building was rigged for demolition long before that fateful day. Because we know that steel framed buildings do not collapse from fire we need to ask ourselves why those three buildings came down as fast as they did...but only if you are brave enough to grapple with the truth which, at times, can be very ugly.

September 2018

9/11 REDUX

On this, the eighth anniversary of 9/11, I spent three hours watching documentary footage of that fateful day. For the past couple of years I have not paid much attention to the TV memorials, but today I felt it was time, once again, to watch and listen in an attempt to better understand what it was that happened. Having had my fill of ghastly images and haunting sounds, I have now retreated from the TV room and feel the need to put some of my myriad, swirling thoughts to paper. As I try to sort out my reactions, I am, once again, brought to realize that there are things I know, things I do not know, and things I believe to be true but cannot confirm. After so many years, the immensity of this catastrophe is still so large that I do not feel competent to wrap my brain around it, so what follows is an attempt to chip away at the edges of this thing and see where it leads me. I accept that 9/11 was unimaginable and remains beyond comprehension.  

          *What I do know

I know that two enormous towers were erected in lower Manhattan during my lifetime. One building would have been spectacular enough with its 110 stories, but the people who dreamed this dream decided to multiply the splendor by doubling the image.

I know that these buildings were so grand that they attracted the attention of people all over the world. They were, perhaps, like the Empire State Building, emblems of New York and all that it represents. To many, they were symbols of America’s economic power and world dominance.

I know that I visited these buildings several times as a sightseeing tourist and dined at Windows on the World on the top floor. I can still remember the magnificent lobby as well as the astounding views in all directions, encompassing the entire metropolitan area, from the observation deck.

I know that the towers are gone. They may have taken years to plan and build but they each collapsed in less than 10 seconds. No demolition company could have done a better job of bringing them down so fast and so completely.

I know the skyline of New York has been irrevocably altered and it is now measurably less grand than it used to be. For many, the void is still painfully obvious.

I know that on that day, when our country needed a leader of strength and vision, George W. Bush was the president of the United States of America.

I know that nothing was done to prevent this calamity from occurring before or during this event even though the administration had been warned that such an attack was imminent.

I know that Americans went to work on 9/11 believing that wise and competent people were keeping them safe. I trust that innocence is now a thing of the past.

I know that the City of New York was not prepared to handle a situation like this even though the very same target had been attacked eight years earlier and the perpetrators had vowed to return.

I know I have seen the several different videos of the second plane hitting the South Tower a number of times and it seems to be more frightening each time I see it. I have never seen video of the first plane hitting the North Tower.

I know that I have never heard the voice recorders from either plane that hit the towers and the contents from the data recorder has never been made public. I wonder why we are being kept in the dark.

I know that the enormous cloud of toxic debris that rolled outward from the collapsing buildings reminded me of the pyroclastic flow from an erupting volcano.

I know that the image of victims wandering the streets of lower Manhattan covered in ash reminded me of a bad dream in which aborigines stagger through a treeless outback in a silent, desperate search for refuge. Their plight, and the shortages they faced, reinforces in me the critical importance of abundant fresh air and clean water to human survival.

I know that Christie Whitman and the EPA were urged by the White House to tell America that the air at Ground Zero was OK to breathe even though the dust produced by the collapsing buildings was comprised of human beings, computers and electrical equipment, every imaginable building material, rodents, insects, mold and mildew, and two aircraft. The criminality of that report is now bearing fruit as ever increasing numbers of workers and residents are experiencing respiratory ailments and other life-threatening diseases.

I know the terrorists were successful beyond their wildest dreams.

I know that all theatrical presentations are predicated on the willing suspension of disbelief, and this production is no different. The Federal government expected me to believe that an inexperienced amateur pilot could take a commercial jet from cruising altitude and descend to a height of only twenty feet off the ground and hit the Pentagon face-on. I could envision such a pilot crashing through the roof but this Arab fellow came through the side door with the skill of a carrier pilot.

I know that much of what has come to light in the aftermath of 9/11 has a distinctly fishy smell about it, and since I lived through the Kennedy assassination madness, this seems to have a familiar ring to it. The Warren Commission and the 9/11 Commission both published reports that are highly suspect. I know Oswald did not commit regicide with that crappy old rifle of his. I did some preliminary investigation of the videos and books on the 9/11 mystery and it obvious that an obsessive-compulsive like me could get lost for years in all the conspiracy theories, so I’ll just let it go.

I know it takes a long time to read the names of those who perished that day, and they seem to represent nationalities from every corner of the globe. Even after eight years, the pain in the hearts of those who read the list does not appear to have diminished.

I know the common grave known as Ground Zero shall forever remain hallowed ground like Gettysburg and Valley Forge.

I know that, as long as there is poverty, ignorance, and disease in this world, there will always be people who are tempted to include others in their pain. If we are to make the world safe from such people we must help them, not aggravate them.

          *What I do not know 

I do not know what it felt like to be there that day because I was home in Connecticut and only experienced 9/11 through the screen of my 36-inch Sony.

I do not know what it felt like to be the hijackers armed with a lunatic plan, knives, and box cutters determined to end their lives along with their captives by smashing a jumbo jet into a skyscraper in a foreign land.

I do not know what it felt like to be a passenger and have armed madmen hijack my flight and crash it into the tallest building in New York.

I do not know what it felt like to be a person working in those buildings on that beautiful Tuesday morning and be attacked by a commercial aircraft loaded with thousands of gallons of jet fuel and a cabin full of people.

I do not know how it feels to have to decide to remain where I am and be incinerated or leap a thousand feet to certain death.

I do not know what it felt like to be a first responder arriving at ground zero only to be overwhelmed by the immensity and complexity of the problem confronting me.

I do not know what it means to be a fireman carrying all my equipment up 71 floors trying to control a huge conflagration or rescue dazed and helpless victims.

I do not know why the president continued to read a book to grade school kids after he had been told of the worst attack on American soil since the British invasion in 1812. And while I am at it, why Cheney spent the better part of his tenure in an undisclosed secret hideout? Who was he hiding from?

I do not know why I have never seen footage of a Boeing 757 hitting the Pentagon even though it is the building with the most surveillance in the world. I wonder why that is. What is also strange is that I have never seen a video of Flight 93 either. The initial report from newscasters said there was nothing left of the plane except bits and pieces strewn around a crater that was not large enough to contain an airliner. They found more remains of the Columbia shuttle that fell from space than they did of this supposedly historic craft. I wonder why that is. The last three minutes of flight recorder data have been removed from the record by the FBI so we will never know what happened. Perhaps it was shot down.

I do not know why I have never heard anyone apologize for letting this happen. It seems no one was to blame.

I do not know why WTC 7 was demolished later that afternoon. It was not hit by a plane and only had a small fire on two of its 47 floors. 

          *What I believe to be true

I believe we will never really know what happened that day. I do believe that countless books and videos will be produced in an attempt to answer the seemingly endless number of questions that remain. I do believe that none will fully succeed, but, in time, historians will eventually come up with any number of intriguing perspectives. It will be interesting to see how the countless conspiracy theories are either proven or disproven as the years roll on.

I believe that there were nineteen terrorists who commandeered four planes, and that they were citizens of Egypt, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. None seem to have been from Iraq or Iran.

I believe that the effects of 9/11 are the product of great imagination, courage, and sacrifice as well as copious amounts of fear and anger, shortsightedness and hubris, luck and coincidence, ineptitude and stupidity, malice and arrogance.

I believe that, deep down, the Bush administration was delighted to have their very own Pearl Harbor so they could go on a war footing and hijack the country and its constitution. With the populace in shock and mad as hell it did not take much to push us to invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 but did have a hell of a lot of oil and a nasty dictator with a big mustache.

I believe that our government allowed Osama bin Laden to escape capture from the caves of Bora Bora so that he could remain at large and serve as America’s official boogie-man throughout our well-crafted fascist, war-mongering nightmare.

I believe the hijackers never dreamed that their efforts would cause the towers to fall down and send America into a decade of spending frenzy. The ripple effect of that calamity continues to affect life in America even eight years later. Last week, my beautiful wife’s handbag was searched for bomb-making equipment as we entered the US Open in Flushing, New York. The events of that day have caused us to expend untold hundreds of billions of dollars on things that might protect us but mostly on things that will not.

I believe the people who planned the attack never dreamed America would invade Iraq, destroy a country, and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including lots of fellow Muslims.

I believe we are no safer today than we were on 9/11, but I do not think our enemies will try something like that any time soon because they are still enjoying the fruits of their earlier labors. They do not have to do anything else to make us crazy, fearful, and bankrupt. We are doing a good job of it all by ourselves.