15 years ago terrorists set out to destroy us. People from all walks of life lost their lives or were severely injured in the attacks. It didn’t matter how much money a person made, or what race, religion, job, or gender they were; everyone was affected. Stockbrokers, secretaries, firefighters, police, Soldiers, waiters, and many more died in this senseless attack. For once, this wasn’t a white or black problem, it wasn’t a male or female problem, and it wasn’t a rich or poor problem. This was an American problem.
Please understand, I’m not blind to the issues we had a nation before 9/11. In fact, as a female, I’m well aware of the gender and racial inequalities in our country. These issues seem too big of a mountain to conquer, but for a very brief moment in time, there was hope as we all came together for the good of each other.
There was the deep belief that this attack shook us out of the daze of everyday issues. Life seemed pretty mundane after surviving the millennium computer virus and a heated presidential election. It was September, school had just started and many parents were beginning their Christmas shopping, many preparing for the annual Black Friday squabble over Cabbage Patch Dolls and Elmo toys. Except for a few military missions around the world, we were experiencing a time of peace, a Bush was back in the White House, and fall was in the air. As Americans, we went back to our regular routines. Then, at 8:46 am, on September 11th, 2001, hijacked plane American Airlines, flight 11, hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Nothing would be the same after this day.
In the aftermath of disbelief, mourning, and very slowly moving on, there was this hopeful belief that in rebuilding our structures and honoring the affected families, we could use this time to rebuild our nation into something new. The terrorists may have attacked us, but this was our chance to show the world we could rise from the smoke with a new outlook on life and a new appreciation for each other. We could be better than who we were before.
For a little while, this was true. For a few years, we figuratively, and very literally, stuck our middle finger to our enemies. For years we worked hard to bring the country back to some state of order and it felt good. It gave us hope for a new tomorrow. We showed the world we were one family, separated by differences, but bound by the American spirit. We would not be destroyed.
Unfortunately, the love and compassion built during these troubled times would only last a short period.
Soon after the war began, Soldiers were being attacked in ways we had never seen before. The IED (Improvised Explosive Device) was basically a pipe bomb on steroids. In every war there are standards and rules most fighters abide by. Two sides go to war and they fight each other, working very hard to avoid civilians and national landmarks. But the enemy the Americans faced in the early years of the war had studied our fighting tactics and our equipment for many years. They hit us where it hurt, under our vehicles. This was a fighting force which did not typically face their enemy in battle. No. After many years in wars, fighting many countries, they perfected guerrilla tactics. They explosives for American and allied Soldiers to run over and cause confusion, leaving the Soldiers as sitting ducks. A sniper, or a small group of enemy Soldiers, would then kill the US Soldiers one by one. The US had to quickly respond to these new tactics with new equipment, but the death and injuries of Soldiers kept coming in.
The enemy also hid in towns, hiding in homes of women and children. This had a tremendous impact on American Soldiers. Not since earlier generations had we seen blatant disregard for civilian life during major wars. Obviously, many American Soldiers had deep turmoil with women and children being used in battle. They listened to stories from older generations of Soldiers when they spoke of giving candy to children and supplies to women, and these small tokens of kindness kept them going through the war. The new generation of Soldiers started their path with the same generosity, but as the war wore on, and the death toll rose on both sides, the trust between Soldiers and citizens became strained.
Americans wanted answers. None of this was supposed to happen. America was the highest rated military in the world, but we couldn’t win a quick war with a few rag-tag guerrilla fighters? We were supposed to go in, kick butt, come home, enjoy a few parades, and everyone have hot dogs and apple pie. The older generation was looking for one more hurrah and the younger generation wanted this to be our war.
War isn’t glamorous and should never be looked upon as such, but the new generation wanted their own stories to tell their children and grandchildren. They yearned for the title of “The greatest generation” for themselves. Once war was declared, all of America anticipated a quick declaration of Victory in all the newspapers bringing our hero fighters home. Sadly, none of this happened. Large victories came with high prices and small battles were not won easily.
The American people expected to invade Iraq and win as quickly as we did back in Desert Storm, but that would not be the case. Some of the bloodiest battles occurred in Iraq and even after Saddam Hussein lost power, the battles for smaller regions still raged on.
The enemy Soldiers were more prepared then the American government anticipated, and the price tag of the war was staggering. Six years after the twin towers were attacked, and still, the war continued.
Reports of enemy abuse by American Soldiers were reported around the world, sexual assaults of female Soldiers became rampant, millions of dollars of cash (sent to help the war effort) went missing, and in other areas, American officers were caught rigging contracts to pocket millions of dollars of money. Massive injuries to Soldiers became the standard news stories, KIAs were named weekly on TV and radio, and citizens were ready to move on.
This war was slowly becoming less like WWII and more like Vietnam.
Back home, under all the patriotism, good will, and tax breaks for families, there was trouble brewing just on the horizon. Many people saw the storm coming and even sounded the alarm, but their voices were drowned out by the noise of the continuous war effort. In fact, some people who sounded early alarms were fired or removed from their jobs. These firings did not stop the storm, it only delayed the truth and this delay contributed to the biggest economic crises since the great depression.
Through the fog of war, when we were shopping to save America, making comfort packages for the Soldiers abroad, and waving the American flag during parades, our banking institutions were stabbing us in the back.
Banks and mortgage companies used the war effort as a reason to push the boundaries of laws and policies to approve subprime mortgages, investors moved retirement money from trusting people to these new investment accounts, and many people were encouraged to purchase homes to flip for big bucks right away. Wall Street created a bubble so big very shortly the burst would be heard around the world. The ripple effect of the housing bubble bursting affected all economic institutions so fast, it might as well have been the planes hitting the World Trade Center. Just like the floors in the Twin Towers, as soon as housing debt crumbled, other intuitions fell on top of one by one, taking real people out along the way. Only the people, who left the real estate market early, were able to escape unharmed. All others were scarred for life or their lives were completely shattered in the ruins of their life, some even resorting to suicide to escape the pain.
The economy collapsed, the war dragged on, many companies failed, people lost their jobs, then lost their medical benefits, and in many cases, these same individuals became homeless. American’s stress levels soared, and we turned on one another. The love affair we had for one another ended shortly after the economic collapse. With so many people struggling to keep their families fed and clothed, they became physically and emotionally exhausted. Many Americans had no hope for themselves, and they certainly didn’t have energy or resources left for others. Many called to bring our Soldiers home. The money was needed to fix our economy, not the economies of the world.
President Bush had put into place a date to leave Iraq and President Obama honored that timeline. In 2011, it was time to pack up and come home. There was very little fanfare about leaving. No declaration of Victory or victory parades. Many great things had occurred during the war and many Iraq citizens did not want the American to leave, but it wasn’t up to the Soldiers. It was an agreement between two countries and that was that. It was time to let Iraq care for themselves and let our Soldiers rest.
Sadly, we now know the time between America leaving Iraq and a new enemy force taking over was very short. ISIS came in right behind our Soldiers and destroyed most of the accomplishments we helped put in place.
The American Veterans, citizens, politicians, and families of the wounded and dead were outraged. Eight long years of time, money and blood were poured into Iraq, yet in a matter of months, ISIS erased that progress from the face of the Earth.
With this new information and the economic crises still fresh in their minds, Congress turned on one another, and the American people divided themselves down hard lines of politics.
With the war still raging in Afghanistan, and many skirmishes requiring American military presence, there were talks of Soldiers entering Iraq again. Soldiers and civilians alike became weary of war. Too much money and lives were lost to a war effort which barely made bleeps on the evening news.
Jobs were scarce, and money was tight. Racism, sexism, and nationalism rose so badly. People started killing each other in movies and the streets for no other reason than not liking how the other person lived and looked.
Protests for racial equality became so heated, and destruction so complete, many of our cities began to look like war zones in our country.
Anger, hatred, abuse, and death followed. We no longer needed a reason to be angry with each other. We no longer needed the terrorists to tell us to pick up arms and fight. We no longer saw each other as Americans. We saw each other as individuals fighting for the same pot of money and the same plot of land. We started tearing each other up from the inside. An attack on our soil didn’t tell us to do that; we did it all on our own.
Now, in 2016, not only do we now live in a country divided not only by political lines, but we have divided ourselves down so many lines of anger the lines of love and hate have become blurred, and it’s difficult to know who to remain angry with anymore. The planes are no longer there, the buildings are rebuilt, the families are slowly rebuilding their lives, immigrants aren’t taking our jobs, gay people aren’t taking away our marriages, and even though the war may continue, the economy is slowly bouncing back.
So, why are we so angry with each other? Where is the constant hate coming from?
The honest answer is we’ve been told to hate for so long, it’s really all we know. Everyone is filled with so much hate and anger; it looks like the terrorists finally won. The catalyst of our anger is no longer there. The only person making us angry is ourselves.Yes, it took the 15 years for their plan to work, but it looks like they won.
They set out to destroy who we were and the plan worked. They played the long game. The enemy has worked hard for hundreds of years to destroy love, freedom, and happiness. To them, 15 years is just a drop in the bucket of time for their plans.
I’m not talking about Islam; I’m talking about those in the world who hate light. They hide in the dark corners of the world, in caves, in basements, and in dark alleys, muttering to themselves about the shackles of hate, about destroying beauty, reading, science, math, travel, and great pieces of art.
These are the people who destroy the nice things in our world. These are the ones who hate the light. They hate those who smile. They hate those who hold our gay brothers and sisters close, they hate when women succeed in the worlds they can’t touch, they hate when different races are married, they hate mixed children who can put their feet in two worlds and bring peace, they hate everything America stands for, and they hate us because we don’t give up. They hate us because no matter how dysfunctional we are and no matter how many times we fall, we smile, give the world the middle finger, drink our beer, pray to our individual gods (or not), and then we drag ourselves up, dust ourselves off, lick our wounds, and we continue to fight like never before. We fight together. In our country and in our military, we fight as one. All religions can stand together under one flag, including, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Wiccans, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, and
In our country and in our military, we fight as one. All religions can stand together under one flag, including, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Wiccans, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, and more. We work together making this land a place to raise happy and healthy children. Sure, most of the time, we can’t stand each other and we have our own arguments, but what siblings would get along for over 200 years without fighting? Like any caring family, we get frustrated when our brothers and sisters don’t follow the religion we like, dress the way we do or love the people we want them to love, but just like any family, we can pick on our own siblings, but no one else can. No one can insult another American but us.
That was until recently. Our family has been wounded like never before. We don’t care about each other any longer. There is not respect for our fellow human. The scary and sad part is, the empathy for those who are different than us is almost gone. Even when we strongly disagreed with others, there was always a certain level of respect for other humans. For the majority of people, there were lines which should not be crossed and now, it seems, those lines are not just blurry, they are no longer there. Respect for others is gone. It’s frightening to watch humans turn on each other like animals. Which is exactly what’s happening in the US.
We no longer experience the typical dysfunctional family issues. What we have now is something entirely different. We have hate, greed, murders, divisions of family, and groups sliced so thin it’s impossible to know who is friend or foe.
The darkness of our enemy was sent to destroy the essence of America; the caring, open-armed, free, loving country, who accepts the sick, poor, and downtrodden of the world, and their plan worked. It took 15 years, but the plan worked. It’s a sad state of affairs when we are doing more damage and killing more of our own people than the attackers did who started us on this path.
15 years of war has created a world we’ve never known in the history of our country.
As a parent, is has been so sad to raise my children in a world where all they’ve known is war. They’ve never known a time of peace. The same war their parents fought in is the war the children are fighting in. 15 years of hate and war has got to have an effect on our young children and our young adults. There is no way they can come out of this unscarred. No wonder some of the children have lost their way. With the upheaval of the world, the economic collapse, the insane election, and not knowing what the next four years will bring, they have no idea how the world will look when they grow old or if they will even have a world left to grow old in.
How long will the war go on? Will we see our grandchildren pick up arms and fight the same enemy? I don’t know. I just don’t know. I’d like to know the answer, but the way our country is headed, I’m afraid we’re going to tear ourselves apart before we end the wars in other nations.
At least I can take some comfort in knowing we are on this side of the war and I’m not trying to raise my children in a bombed-out home with no running water. What I can’t take comfort in is worrying if my children will die in a random shooting, if my children will go off to war themselves, and most of all, if my children will find happiness and comfort in a country which looks much different than it ever has. Each generation has their burdens to bare (my generation had Vietnam, the Cold War, Desert Storm, and many others) and they survive and thrive. I know my children’s generation will be okay too. But what about America as a whole?
What about America? Just like I said in the beginning, I’m not blind to the problems of our nation. We still face racism and sexism just as we did before 2001. We still face prejudices over different religion, culture, and moral belief. I’m certainly not denying that we still face enemies who would like to see us wiped off the face of the Earth and use our bones as toothpicks. The thing is, we’ve always faced enemies, just like they face us, but we used to actually get things done and live our lives while dealing with these other issues as needed. Now, it seems, the country has become stagnated. It’s gotten to the point where everyone is so angry about everything and spending so much time yelling at each other and killing each other, no one is actually focused on changing anything. So many people are so frenzied in anger, people aren’t doing anything to move forward.
Just because we’ve been told to hate and just because we’ve hated others for 15 years, doesn’t mean we have to blindly hate another culture just because we’re told to.
We no longer need to tear each other apart. We can actually disagree with another person while respecting that person for their differences. It’s time to lay down arms and rebuild our relationships, rebuild our communities, and rebuild our nation. It’s time to stop the hate and start the healing. It’s time to come together and openly talk about our issues while moving forward to a stronger country and a brighter tomorrow for our children.
Don’t let their darkness spread through the soul of our nation. Don’t let 9/11 be the day the enemy won.
Until next time…be safe, be kind, and take the time to love one another.