Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thoughts on 9-11


I try not to venture into “hot button” issues on this blog normally, but I feel like I have to say something about all the Quran burning talk of this past week. From the latest reports, it’s not going to happen, which is a VERY good thing. One of the great things about the United States of America is our freedom of religion and our free speech. We have nothing to fear from the ideas put forth in any religious text. Ironically, I think our “tolerance” sometimes goes too far into censoring the Bible, which offends a lot of people and is banned in many countries.

“And I don’t understand why the people say
That I’m not separating church and state

When all that I do is read a book that says to me
To forgive my enemies and pray that they get saved”

From “No Chain” by ApologetiX (lyrics by J. Jackson) from the album Ticked parody of Blind Melon’s “No Rain”:

In the free House of Ideas and Beliefs, I think that God’s free gift of Grace and Forgiveness through Jesus Christ will win out over man’s futile efforts of attaining perfection in either the secular or religious world any day. “Nuff said”.

When I realized that I had the September 11th post this year, I knew I had to do something to commemorate that awful day nine years ago. So I’ve got several things to share. First up is from my wife’s prayer journal from that day (used with permission). The only thing I edited was the last names of some of the individuals:

Pam’s personal diary 9/11/01

A Day We Will Never Forget

1:30 am

Eric calls me to go pee pee before he wets bed

4:30 am
Charlotte called me because her “bottom” itched due to possible UTI & yeast infection. I tried to comfort her but I was so tired.

9:05 am
I called doctor (since they don’t open until 9) to see what to do for Charlotte. Nurse says she will talk to doctor and call back. I am still very tired and having trouble comforting kids and having compassion. Charlotte’s infection is on the heels of an ear infection for her and asthma type symptoms & cold for Eric. I am ~14 weeks pregnant and feeling very run down.

9:30 am
I finally get everyone in the van to go to Bible study at church (we are supposed to be there at 9:30!) I turn the radio on and the news says that the World Trade Center Twin Towers have been struck by airplanes. I listen in disbelief as they go on to describe the worst terrorist attack on US soil – EVER. It is terrible and I feel sick to my stomach.

9:40 am
I get to church and take kids to nursery. I talk with the ladies about what has happened. We are all shocked.

~10:15 am
Deb returns to Bible Study and says, “I think we should pray. The pentagon has just been hit by an airplane.” We combine the Ladies and Mom’s study and Willie starts the prayer. We have several ladies in study that have husbands in the military or who work at NSA, which we fear could be bombed. We are very frightened. Many of us weep as others pray. I try to pray and break down in tears. Deb holds my hand to comfort me. Sarah’s husband comes during prayer from NSA and she runs to his arms in tears of relief. We cry harder. We finish praying after ~40min. and pick up our kids to go home.

~10:45 am
We find out that the World Trade Towers have collapsed. Shock and disbelief set in.

~11:00 am
We arrive home; I am anxiously waiting Matthew getting home from work. I get the kids “somewhat” settled and turn on the TV to see my first terrible footage of the terror. Helen cries almost non-stop because she feels how tense I am. C & E play Tonka Construction on the computer.

~11:30 am
Eric comes into family room crying and promptly projectile vomits everywhere. I think to myself that I can’t take much more. He goes to bathroom in case he has more. I tell C & H that they need to eat lunch – NOW. We go upstairs & I put Helen in the high chair. Eric is still crying downstairs. KarenSue knocks at door to see if we are OK. I tell her no! Matthew comes home shortly thereafter. The rest of the day I am nearly incapacitated and we watch the news.

9:10 pm
Matthew leads us in prayer about this tragedy. He has a good prayer covering many things. I am spent, and almost say “In Jesus’ name, Amen”, but suddenly begin to pray. My eyes were shut and my head began to spin but I wasn’t dizzy. The prayers just kept coming. I believe this was the first “Spirit-led” prayer I have ever had. Praise God!

In closing, what seemed monumental at the start of the beginning of the day seems trivial now. God – please help me to not say immersed in the trivial rather than focusing on you. Please use this tragedy to open people’s hearts to you. In Jesus’ name – Amen.

The second thing I wanted to share was a brochure from the Twin Towers. I visited it only once back in 1990 with some fellow co-ops, when I was working at FHWA. I was bummed that I couldn’t get access to the roof due to the weather conditions. I looked for some photos of that trip, but couldn’t seem to get a hold of them in time for this post. I’m really glad that I actually got to be there at least once. If you want to see something really neat then check out this clip from the movie Godspell, which has the cast singing on top of the nearly completed World Trade Center.

I know we haven’t built another building on the site of Ground Zero yet, but for some reason these lines seem appropriate today.

The threats you made were meant to cut me down

Well look at me, I'm coming back again

I got a taste of love in a simple way
And if you need to know while I'm still standing you just fade away

Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did

Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid

I'm still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

from “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John (lyrics by Bernie Taupin) from the album Too Low For Zero

Finally, since this is a comic site (in case you think I forgot), I picked up Our Army at War: Featuring SGT ROCK this week. It was a one-shot written by Mike Marts with excellent art by Victor Ibanez (sorry I couldn’t seem to get the right tildes and accents) with colors by Ego. The two stories intertwine seamlessly together, with some panels focusing on World War II and others on the War on Terror. It does a fine job of comparing and contrasting the differences of the two conflicts, but most of all it’s an excellent reminder of why we’re still fighting over there. The scenes involving the Twin Towers are especially effective.

This reminds me of my favorite stanza of our national anthem (The two-part conditional phrase after "when" is very important):

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
The Star Spangled Banner (lyrics by Francis Scott Key)

1 comment:

  1. The thing is, this isn't remotely like WWII. It's a little bit like the Cold War, but not much. Of course, we lost all sight of what a war actually is because we've bastarized the term so much, at least since the War on Poverty.

    Here's our lineup for WWII, mostly. Germany, Japan and Italy (with some ancillary allies) v UK, USSR, US, and France (with a lot of ancillary allies). Notice that these are all nations. In the Cold War, which was not a declared war, we even had the US v the USSR, with each of their attendant allies.

    What do we have now? Well, in Afghanistan we had the Taliban run nation and its houseguests, al-Qaeda. It was the houseguests who were responsible for the attacks on 9/11, and no one else, despite the specious reasoning behind the Iraq invasion. It was certainly appropriate for us to send in forces to attack al-Qaeda, as there's no way the Taliban would do so. Not just because they were sympathetic to al-Qaeda's mission, either. Afghan tradition (at least among the Pashtun Taliban) requires that a host protect his guest from outsiders.

    Of course, the nature of Afghan cultures (there are several cultures in the country) means that the Taliban would have to go, too. But, we're not fighting a country in Afghanistan like we did in WWII. We're fighting one cultural group in a nation teeming with cultures. Not even all of the Pashtuns support the Taliban, though. And that's the other thing. We're fighting the Taliban now, not al-Qaeda. They're hiding out in Pakistan.

    So, the question now is what to do about Afghanistan. We can't just leave, as that would put them back in the post Soviet puppet collapse, which the Taliban would likely win again. Which means we're stuck with trying to stabilize the country before we leave. We'll see how that goes, but this is not a fight remotely resembling WWII.

    Now, so far as commemorating the day, that's appropriate, and we should. But we should also look at ourselves and the mistakes we've made since then. Al-Qaeda launched the attacks in order to get the US out of Islamic nations (ie Saudi Arabia) and to create a caliphate over the entire Islamic world. It wasn't to invade the US or force Americans to become Muslims.

    By any reasonable standard, al-Qaeda has been an abject failure. The US remains actively involved in many Muslim countries, protecting its econimic interests, mostly. There's absolutely no chance of a caliphate, either. Hell, most Muslims are killed by fights with other Muslims.

    But in the name of fighting this tertiary threat to the US (the US existence as a whole, not the individual threat to American citizens), we've jailed people indifinitely without trial, harrangued our own AG into giving up an effort to rightfully try at least some of those held, projected ourselves in the world as a go-it-alone, damn-the-consequences bully, and alienated the many American Muslims who've been loyal Americans for decades.

    Instead of the incoherrent, irrational anger of the Tea Party, we could stand a lot more introspecition and examination of the consequences of our own decisions to see what we can do to make things better for ourselves. A loud "no" and a smack in the face of anyone who thinks remotely differently doesn't make for good governance. The fact that so many people have already forgotten that from the Bush years that just ended less than 2 years ago bespeaks a cultural ADD that may be a truer threat to the existence of the nation than al-Qaeda and its ilk.