Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My Sept 11th memorial post

On Sept 11th, 2001 I was at work - just like this year. I remember how people started getting up from their cubicles and RUNNING to the break room where the only T.V was. I remember how the phones in our call center just died, then every now and again the rare person would call and say they couldn't get through to NY -could I help, or they just didn't want to be alone. I talked to that woman for a long time - She told me what was going on she was watching live- we asked what was wrong with our world. She stayed on the line until the towers fell. Until her brother showed up to be with her, until we just couldn't watch it anymore. And then I just sat there. I didn't see the video, didn't see the towers fall until that night - my dad was home, he was taping it all, on VHS.

I read this post and meant to post it and a link to the persons site who wrote it. So I am going to quote it in the section below. It just gives you a moment to ponder why, makes me understand why things happen the way they do, why people feel the way about us that they do- and how said it is that we have learned NOTHING as a country from Sept 11th, nothing that counts, nothing that will stop the cycles, nothing that will change the politics, nothing at all. They know us so well, they know us so well...

September 11, 2005...
“R.- come in here! You have to see this!”

It
was September 11, 2001 and I was in the kitchen rinsing some dishes from lunch.
I paused at the urgency in my brothers voice but continued rinsing, thinking
there was some vaguely important news item on Iraq’s state controlled channel. “

I’m coming- a moment.” I called back. The phone began to ring and I
stopped to answer it on my way out of the kitchen.
R: “Alloo?” I answered.
L: “Are you watching tv???” L., my best friend, cried out with no
preliminaries.
R: “Uh… no- but…”
L: “GO WATCH TV!”

The line went
dead and I put down the phone, my heart beating wildly. I made my way to the
living room, curious and nervous, wondering what it could be. Had someone died?
Were they going to bomb us again? That was always a possibility. It never
surprised anyone when the US decided on an air strike. I wondered if, this time
around, Bush had been caught with a presidential aide in the Oval Office.

I walked into the living room and E. was standing in the middle of it-
eyes glued to the television, mouth slightly open, remote control clutched in
his hand, and directed towards the television set.

“What is it?” I
asked, looking at the screen. The images were chaotic. It was a big city, there
was smoke or dust and people running across the screen, some screaming, others
crying and the rest with astounded looks on their faces. They looked slightly
like E., my brother, as he stood staring at the television, gaping. There was
someone speaking in the background- in English- and there was a voiceover in
Arabic. I can’t remember what was being said; the images on the tv screen are
all I remember. Confusion. Havoc.

And then they showed it again. The
Twin Towers- New York… a small something came flying out of the side of the
screen and it crashed into one of them. I gasped audibly and E. just shook his
head, “That’s nothing… wait…” I made my way towards the couch while keeping my
eyes locked on the television. There was some more chaos, shocked expressions,
another plane and the towers- they began to crumble. They began to fall. They
disappeared into an enormous fog of smoke and dust.

I sucked in my
breath and I couldn’t exhale that moment. I just sat there- paralyzed- watching
the screen. A part of me was saying, “It’s a joke. It’s Hollywood.” But it was
just too real. The fear was too genuine. The incoherent voices in the background
were too tinged with confusion and terror.

The silence in the living
room was broken with the clatter of the remote control on the floor. It had
slipped out of E.’s fingers and I jumped nervously, watching the batteries from
the remote roll away on the ground.

“But… who? How? What was it? A
plane? How???”

E. shook his head and looked at me in awe. We continued
watching the television, looking for answers to dozens of questions. Within the
hour we had learned that it wasn’t some horrid mistake or miscalculation. It was
intentional. It was a major act of terror.

Al-Qaeda was just a vague
name back then. Iraqis were concerned with their own problems and fears. We were
coping with the sanctions and the fact that life seemed to stand still every few
years for an American air raid. We didn’t have the problem of Muslim
fundamentalists- that was a concern for neighbors like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

I remember almost immediately, Western media began conjecturing on which
Islamic group it could have been. I remember hoping it wasn’t Muslims or Arabs.
I remember feeling that way not just because of the thousands of victims, but
because I sensed that we’d suffer in Iraq. We’d be made to suffer for something
we weren’t responsible for.

E. looked at me wide-eyed that day and asked
the inevitable question, “How long do you think before they bomb us?”

“But it wasn’t us. It can’t be us…” I rationalized.
“It doesn’t
matter. It’s all they need.”

And it was true. It began with Afghanistan
and then it was Iraq. We began preparing for it almost immediately. The price of
the dollar rose as people began stocking up on flour, rice, sugar and other
commodities.

For several weeks it was all anyone could talk about. We
discussed it in schools and universities. We talked about it in work places and
restaurants. The attitudes differed. There was never joy or happiness, but in
several cases there was a sort of grim satisfaction. Some Iraqis believed that
America had brought this upon itself. This is what you get when you meddle in
world affairs. This is what you get when starve populations. This is what you
get when you give unabashed support to occupying countries like Israel, and
corrupt tyrants like the Saudi royals.

Most Iraqis, though, felt pity.
The images for the next weeks of Americans running in terror, of the frantic
searches under the rubble for relatives and friends left us shaking our heads in
empathy. The destruction was all too familiar. The reports of Americans fearing
the sound of airplanes had us nodding our heads with understanding and a sort of
familiarity- you’d want to reach out to one of them and say, “It’s ok- the fear
eventually subsides. We know how it is- your government does this every few
years.”

It has been four years today. How does it feel four years later?

For the 3,000 victims in America, more than 100,000 have died in Iraq.
Tens of thousands of others are being detained for interrogation and torture.
Our homes have been raided, our cities are constantly being bombed and Iraq has
fallen back decades, and for several years to come we will suffer under the
influence of the extremism we didn't know prior to the war.

As I write
this, Tel Afar, a small place north of Mosul, is being bombed. Dozens of people
are going to be buried under their homes in the dead of the night. Their water
and electricity have been cut off for days. It doesn’t seem to matter much
though because they don’t live in a wonderful skyscraper in a glamorous city.
They are, quite simply, farmers and herders not worth a second thought.

Four years later and the War on Terror (or is it the War of Terror?) has
been won:
Score:
Al-Qaeda – 3,000
America – 100,000+
Congratulations.

2 Comments:

Blogger thir13teenandtheysayitain'tlucky said...

EXCELLENT FIND!!!! I enjoyed it... I also checked the blog you referred me to. Interesting.... I got my locks BEFORE I ever read a poem at an open mic....

9:45 AM  
Blogger Queue said...

I hemmed and hawwed for a few years before I actually got mine done... Just got them this year

9:51 AM  

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