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It is 15 years today since 9/11.  It seems so recent, yet so long ago.  Time is funny that way. Normally time makes you forget the worst.  Not in this case.  Because there was no good to be remembered.

I remember talking to my friend Jed, who seemed young at the time and I told him that I think his life will be much different now.  His future years, life that I’d already lived, was going to be harder.  Little did I know.  I never imagined the extent we’d go for the perception of safety.

I heard a really good feel good story from 9/11 on NPR.  About a place in Newfoundland where all the airplanes landed, since US airspace was closed.  How a small town/towns took in nearly 9000 passengers and housed and fed them for 3 days.   And about how the passenger took up a collection to try to thank their hosts.  It is now an endowment by the passengers that has sent over 200 of the Newfoundlander children to college.   It is one good thing that happened because of the horrible.

We now all have an underlying fear of dying from terrorism.  That is the beauty of it.  It works.  It puts, along with the media, fear into our emotional state.  In reality, we are all safe.  But the perception of imminent death, or that of our children, is ever-present.

There are lots of charts and articles out there about comparing the chances of dying from terrorism.  It is very small if you are an American.  Removing 9/11, there have been 500 US citizens killed by terrorism in nearly 40 years.    That isn’t counting our soldiers that are killed protecting us from it.  But, the real answer is we are safe.  It is hard convincing ourselves that, but it is true.

I was at home, watching the television live during 9/11.  I couldn’t believe what was happening. My friends Vincent and Bill had already left to head to Chequamegon and they were calling asking me what was going on.  I was on the phone with them when the World Trade Center building #2 collapsed.  I didn’t know what to say.

It was horrible.  But, in reality, if you want to dwell on horrible things that people do to each other, then you have plenty to dwell on.  We’ve historically done horrible things to each other, in the name of peace, religion, rebellion, you name it, we’ve justified it.  So this isn’t anything new.

Our reactions since 9/11 have been poor.  We had the sympathy of the whole planet and we threw that away for, what seems like, revenge.  Our actions have just made the rest of the humans on the planet mad at us.  At our government, at least, maybe not us the people. Hopefully not us the people.

I was right when I talked to Jed.  I couldn’t imagine the changes we have went through in the name of safety.  And we still are on that path.  Life was much easier and simpler before 9/11.  I hope, for the sake of our children, that we remember how life was before, and try to make decisions and strive to bring it back to  more even footing.  We don’t feel safe as a country.

Perception or reality, it doesn’t matter.  You live in fear when you sense fear.

I’m heading over to Lawrence to ride a few hours on gravel with a bunch of friends.  I’ll have a lot of time to think about the past 15 years.  It isn’t good bike riding thoughts, but it will be present, none-the-less.  I’m not going to make sense of it.  There is no sense of it to be made.



Tucker has a hard time staying clean sometimes.

Tucker has a hard time staying clean sometimes.

38 thoughts on “9/11

  1. Bill K

    Some politicians use 9/11 to instill fear into Americans, for their own benefit, but I guess that’s is what some politicians do, to make “points”.

    What, Me Worry?

    1. jinglehair

      worry about trump… that guy will bring more hate/anger to america than we’ve ever seen… another hitler he is… I fear for america if he gets in…

  2. Christian D

    “We had the sympathy of the whole planet and we threw that away for, what seems like, revenge.”

    Great sentiment, Steve. Bordering on eloquent, even.

    1. Ducky

      Brilliant comment Steve. What response to take to 9/11 was extremely difficult to determine. I remember a family dinner shortly after the attack, when I lobbied for a peaceful response. The table full of leftist academics all pretty much said the same thing; that my response was naive and we had to do something more forceful. In my memory it was pretty much unanimous that we as a country go and bomb these “guys”. Well the forceful response really hasn’t worked out so well. War sucks and is more often than not an ineffective tool for foreign policy objectives.

      1. KrakatoaEastofJava

        I remember watching the TV that morning and being upset that it was a certainty that we’d overreact and end up killing so many innocent people. And never in my wildest fears did I think that 15 years later, we’d still be fighting in two different countries (3, really) as a result. Those nutjobs baited us into a fight, just like our three-year-old brothers used to do to us. And we let them.

      2. Bryan

        War is being used for the wrong reason. As a retired member of the ‘profession of arms” (military), I learned early on that war should not be fought to harm the other side. It is a method of diplomacy that should be used to bring the other side to the table to talk. We have used it for too many other purposes in the last 15 years and we can see where that has gotten usl

    2. channel_zero

      Cheney took the opportunity to get his pet project, invading Iraq, done under the cover of “terrorism.”

      We funded what would become the terrorists under the guise of keeping the Russians bogged-down in Afghanistan, then just abandoned the country. A series of terrible choices leading into 9/11 and the politics that followed were shameful. And then more horrible policy choices were made that started the current “enemy.”

      We’ve mostly forgotten about Afghanistan and very few people have any interest in the region’s history. Which, is another mistake. Too many lives lost already.

    3. jinglehair

      big money in revenge though… revenge and retribution is what we are taught at an early age.

      No better than them really?

  3. KrakatoaEastofJava

    So spooky to see this exact shot. The building just in front of your fireball pic is the Woolworth building. That’s where I worked at the time. My normal commute would have brought me to the PATH station at the WTC at exactly 8:50 AM, but thankfully I was on vacation (due to fly home from LAX that morning, actually). Took me five days extra to get home. My town in NJ lost nine people, several of whom I’d see regularly on the train. It was so unbelievably sad seeing all the “missing” posters all over Manhattan afterward.

    Ironically, my company was steeped in post-dot.com-bust financial trouble at the time, and our five-floor lease at Woolworth was literally killing us. The attack closed-off that section of town for months, allowing us to invoke the “terrorism clause” (yeah, we had one) of the lease, thus saving the company.

    I’m not a big 9-11 anniversary guy. It was a very solemn event and I guess I’m still trying to make sense of it. You know, what if I’d been stuck in the basement mall at WTC that morning, etc. So sad.

  4. FSonicSmith

    Steve, you are an enigma wrapped in a conundrum which is why I love your blog. A guy who misspells a word in every otther sentence and has a similar hit/miss rate with grammatical errors, a guy who uses an el cheapo lawn mower to chop grass so high that it hides a stump and cracks a crankcase and then shamelessly talks about it can still be spot-on about the effect of something so complex. Thank you.

  5. Fausto

    Our town lost a bunch of people on 9/11, the town I grew up in even more. Remember the cars that sat in the train station parking lot for days, their owners never came home that night. We rode today and traded our stories of what we saw that day; many in the group worked in Manhattan then. One was in San Francisco for the one day race they used to have that brought all the big PROs out. I measure the time by the kids in my daughters class that lost their parents that day, they are now high school juniors. Never Forget.

  6. Peter W. Polack

    On that day I had two initial thoughts:

    1. How would the stock market and investors exploit this event to make money? I figured security devices and communications would see explosive growth. It was a cold thought but I just KNEW that’s when the sharks of Wall Street could begin a feeding frenzy and I’ve no doubt they took advantage of it.

    2. I said to a coworker who was a military veteran like me: Are you ready to reenlist or be recalled? All I got was silence. I posed a similar question to other workers that day, something like-what are you prepared to sacrifice for this country if needed? Rationing, higher prices, etc.? No one was willing to commit. And then the President told us to go shopping…

    1. numbnuts

      what is safe? safe as you can be… up to you to define that not some institution you become dependent upon.
      We have become way way too dependent on “big brother” to define being safe.
      Thus, we have no boundaries. No real responsibility.
      We are quick to blame and shame… when in reality, we may be the problem.

      1. KrakatoaEastofJava

        About a year after the shoe thing started, I asked the tsa guy if we really had to do it. He said “no, of course not.” So I didn’t remove my shoes. As soon as I walked through the metal detector (no beeps), I was escorted away for a super-thorough secondary inspection, where I was ordered to remove my shoes (as well as several other articles of clothing). It took ten minutes. It was like a sadistic retaliation for even asking the question. These assholes actually enjoyed doing this to me and my family.

  7. euro

    You lbs are so lost. If we didn’t retaliate immediately like we did the muslims would have carried out dozens of other attacks since 9/11. Thanks to Obama’s complete lack of backbone and utter failure to believe the seriousness of ISIS’s threats, our own nation is under attack again. But go on and believe that we are safe, drink your lattes and drive your prius to your desk job at a liberal university. Maybe some of you cowards will lose some loved ones and finally believe the seriousness of the threat.

    1. numbnuts

      euro – how do you stop terrorism, its been around since the coming of the amoeba ! when there are differences or threats, there will be war/battles…

      worked big defence, believe you me, there is huge huge money in fear mongering… huge money.

      Terrorism will be difficult to stop, unless you realize the underlying cause/troubles…
      its like gang related stuff, most join gangs to prove their man-hood. Which turns to criminal activity eventually as drugs come into play etc…

      We are all born good, then turn bad over time… what happens along the way is the real question that needs to be answered.

      You can spend millions and trillions on big defence and policing, solve much? don’t think so, been there done that… never gets to the root of the problem Destroy one threat, another typically grows like a bad virus. But, if you truly understand the problem, you can eventually deal with that…

      Calling people cowards is a worthless statement, for naive and gullible people use this just to throw money into the fire and to build empires of debt. The USA is now 18 trillion dollars in debt. Most of which has gone into big defence producing nothing but huge empires of nothingness… the terrorism groups still grow. And, as for policing, gangs are still in existence etc…

      understanding the underlying problem is key.

      1. euro

        Most of our debt is thanks to Obama’s insistence on feeding and clothing illegals and welfare rats. He has shredded the military and cut its funding so it is now a shell of its once great self.

      2. Tony

        What. We are all born good then turn bad overtime. Small children lie, want things there way, cheat, selfish… But we still love them, do not get me wrong. It is some never mature. But to say we are borne good is not true.

  8. numbnuts

    I was working big defence at the time (Lockheed and DRS)… stocks went through the roof after 9/11. The president of Lockheed actually quit prior to 9/11 since zero investment was going into defence at the time… After 9/11 though, things got good again.
    After working big defence and big police, I sense there is huge business in media hype and fear.
    Thus, I don’t work neither anymore.

    There are more people killed and injured by vehicles per day than there is by terrorism by a factor of probably 1000.
    For example:
    Annual Global Road Crash Statistics. Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day. An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among young adults ages 15-44.
    On average in 2012, 92 people were killed on the roadways of the U.S. each day, in 30,800 fatal crashes during the year.

    Not much attention is given to that for there isn’t much money to be made from vehicle fatalities…
    But, terrorism, there is huge amounts of money to be made by big business… Seen it, been there done that…

    best to keep our nose out of the middle east, yet we need their oil for the USA easy to get at oil is long gone (70s oil crisis).

    1. SM

      “Not much attention is given to that for there isn’t much money to be made from vehicle fatalities…”

      I bet Takata would beg to differ. But the massive airbag recall may reel the profits back a bit for them.

      Every auto maker in the world has a team of people working to build safer vehicles, they are making plenty of money.

    2. KrakatoaEastofJava

      It’s spelled “defense” (you tool). One would think that a person who had a career in defense would actually be able to spell at LEAST that word.

  9. Oorah!

    You were afraid we would overreact? LOL! Is there such a thing as overreacting to arguably the worst terrorist attack in the history of the world? Sure, our foreign policy has been horrendous at times, but going over and giving hugs to Al Qaeda was not an option at the time. You libs need to spend some time in the middle east sometime to get a dose of reality.

    1. Ducky


      Thank you for going “over there” in support of the greater good. Anyone who has put there life on the line by going to a war torn region as a member of the military, or a government or aid agency is a hero. However, it is faulty logic to think that those who have not been over there have no idea as to potential remedies, or that they should even be allowed in the discussion. Both you and Euro are name callers, which is one of the worst things a person can be. And I must add is completely counter to what a group dialogue needs to be successful. It needs respect, good listening and cooperation in order to be effective. We live in a democracy which by definition implies we have dialogue about our issues. In my opinion, it’s this break down of dialogue that has put our society in grave danger, but only from a danger that is within. So… We will never know if hugs would have worked because we did not try it. And we now know that the big stick has failed miserably. There is no clear easy answer here, but one thing is clear to me, we must resist the demagoguery of the reactionaries.

    2. KrakatoaEastofJava

      And I’m not liberal in the classic political sense. I’m liberal of the mind, meaning I don’t easily subscribe to dogmatic or pre-thought thoughts. Politically, I’m rather conservative. But even as a political conservative, I know that throwing an army at a well-organized bunch of terrorists is a fools errand. We ended up losing far more good people post-9/11 than we did ON 9/11. It’s was (and still is) senseless to have guys stumping around on jagged rocks in the Korengal valley while well-hidden guys pick them off, one by one. No worries, because when they do dare to take a shot, we just call in a gunship to annihilate the nearby village (and everyone in it). We’re now being shot at by kids who were just toddlers when 9/11 happened. And why? Because we occupy their land. And most of the kids getting shot at have no real memories of 9/11 either. They’re too damn young. So a bunch of people are left shooting at each other fifteen years later. Still.


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