Since this column appears on Fridays, and since the 10th anniversary is Sunday, I felt compelled to write about 9/11. (It falls under my 48-hour rule.) Writing about the three power failures Thursday morning that almost destroyed this file seems a tad self-absorbed. Or as Burt Reynolds once said, “Enough about what I think of my movies. What do you think of my movies?”
The reason I’m hesitant to write about 9/11 is because what hasn’t been said already? Actually, I can think of a few things. For one, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since 9/11. Three or four years, maybe. But a decade? It’s downright disorienting. In fact, if I was a pot smoker, I’d consider giving it up.
One thing’s for sure, this wasn’t a terrific decade. In fact, if I were to rate the decades of my life this one has been the worst.
In 2000, the country was experiencing unparalleled peace and prosperity. (And gas was $1.39 a gallon, a statistic that tells everything, but I will spare you my cynical conclusions.)
Now, 10 years after 9/11, we’re in 2 1/2 wars (not sure what we call the Libyan action) and experiencing the worst economy since the Great Depression. (Except for big corporations which are reporting record profits and many pay zero in taxes. Go figure.)
When the decade began we had the greatest economic surplus in our history amidst predictions that the national debt would soon be paid off entirely. That it didn’t quite work out is a gross understatement. It’s amazing what two wars, one totally misguided and the other totally mismanaged, can do. (Why didn’t the Tea Baggers protest the invasion of Iraq?)
I think one reason that 9/11 seems so recent is that it was so horrific. And it was shown on TV so often that it’s indelibly imprinted on our brains. Or, at least mine.
Like JFK’s assassination, everyone remembers where they were during the attack on the World Trade Center. I was awakened by a phone call from a tennis buddy telling me to turn on the TV. I did and was speechless, which my friends can tell you doesn’t happen often. (Or, as some might quip, not often enough.)
As I watched, I felt many conflicting emotions: grief, anger, even revenge. My friend Russ, on the other hand, took it in stride. A sports junkie, Russ got his 9/11 news by watching Len Berman at ESPN! (I couldn’t make this up, folks.)
The South Tower of the WTC collapsed at 9:59 a.m., less than an hour after being hit. And at 10:28 a.m. the North Tower collapsed. With all due respect for the family and friends of the 2,752 people who died on 9/11, and the thousands of heroes who risked their lives, something about the way those buildings imploded made me suspicious.
Then, at 5:21 p.m., building 7, which had not been hit, collapsed from “fires from when the north tower collapsed.” It was then, and with apologies to Shakespeare, I concluded it wasn’t Denmark where something was rotten.
According to a recent poll, 16 percent of America doesn’t accept the official story of 9/11. It’s possible then that 84 percent of my readership moved to the crossword puzzle, because I’m definitely in that 16 percent. And it’s because of building 7. It’s simple. When, in the history of the world, has a steel and cement building turned to dust from fire? The answer uh … never.
So many questions still linger. Why didn’t NORAD scramble jets? In 1999, when golfer Payne Stewart’s Learjet left its scheduled flight plan, NORAD scrambled jets alongside his. Two years later, on 9/11, the four hijacked planes were off their flight plans for 90 minutes. I know there are so-called “experts” with their so-called “explanations.” It’s like the old joke, am I going to believe them or my lying eyes?
More questions. Why did Bush and Cheney insist on testifying together at the 9/11 Commission? Why was neither under oath? And why were so many actual eyewitnesses not allowed to testify? And why was the entire Bin Laden family (24 relatives) flown out of the country without an FBI debriefing? (And why is this night different from all other nights? Whoops, that’s Passover, sorry.)
Hopefully there’s been some positive since 9/11. As Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said recently, “Al-Qaeda has been severely weakened in the decade since the attacks, while the United States has demonstrated a spirit of resilience.” In my desire that he’s right, my fingers are crossed. (Which might explain the typos.)
In sum, for those who didn’t care for this column, at least you don’t have to dread next year’s version. Next year, 9/11 falls on a Tuesday.
When he isn’t too busy with conspiracy theories, Jack can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.