9/11 plus five

We all know where we were five years ago today.

You don't even need much more than a second or two to remember. I was in Joplin, Mo., having started a new job with the newspaper there some five weeks earlier. My day started with a frantic phone call from one of my sisters, which made me think someone died.

Turns out nearly 3,000 died.

But as we lay wreaths and ring church bells and have moments of silence nationwide, we must ask ourselves some big questions. Are we better off? Have we come ANY closer to putting a halt to terrorism? Have we come ANY closer to finding Osama bin Laden?

If nothing else, I believe we've become more fractured. Think of the civility we showed one another after 9/11. That wasn't limited to New York, Washington or rural Pennsylvania. People in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma farm country and I have to believe in other parts of the country ... well, the feeling is somewhat hard to put into words. I guess the best way to describe it is polite.

Something happened that, and I'm not trying to sound cliched here, tore through the fabric of this country. In a perverse sort of way, the attacks of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon affected everyone -- and I mean everyone -- across the entire spectrum of races, classes and both sexes. Didn't matter if you were a black farmworker in Philadelphia, Miss., a businesswoman in San Francisco or a retail manager in Sioux Falls, S.D. You all felt the same anger, sadness and horror that day.

Think about this: it took a terrorist attack to truly bring this nation together, something we couldn't do ourselves.

Those feelings are nothing more than memories. After all, look at the tug-of-war that's been going on in trying to rebuild ground zero between building and site plans and costs. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin answered a question recently about why his city was having trouble rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina by saying, "That's alright. You guys in New York can't get a hole in the ground fixed and it's five years later. So let's be fair."

Ray, there's a huge difference between a natural disaster and a terrorist attack. You need to be mindful of that.

By the way, enough cannot be spent on the rebuilding effort. Maybe take some of Bush's billions for war and divert it to this cause.

We've stemmed terrorism in this country. There has not been a follow-up attack. There have not been train bombings like those in Spain or England that have happened over the last five years, and the thing is you'll almost certainly never know how close we've come. While it's true you'll see news on TV or the Internet news items that some plot has been foiled, the low- and mid-level threats almost certainly never get publicized.

Bin Laden? He's the forgotten man in all this. After all, there was supposed to be a war on terrorism, but that's mutated into the war in Iraq, a war without a definite purpose. Is it to bring democracy to a part of the world that doesn't want America's way of life foisted upon them? Is it the monopolize the gas and oil industries in the Middle East? The cynic in me asks if it's not a ploy to make the Bush-Cheney cabal even richer.

So, I ask all of you this ... how do we continue to heal as nation? Once a year to remember the darkest day in American history is not enough.

What do you think? I'd like to know.

1 comment:

kansas brat said...

Unfortunately, the only thing proven to heal and evolve a population is time.

Europe had the middle ages and two world wars totally reshape its face. It also doesn't radiate the "we're Amuricans, therefore we are superior" attitude.

Until the government leads their people by humble example... they cannot expect more from the population.