Sunday, September 11, 2011

I had waited, with dread, for years before this day came…

...10 years ago, when I was watching CNBC Market Watch. The news came in that one of the twin towers appeared to be “on fire.” When it was reported that it might have been the result of an aircraft that may have “accidentally” hit one of the towers, I was incredulous. I knew it was no accident.

I was getting ready for work by taking the Cleveland Park metro down to Union Station where I was working as a contractor for the US Treasury. The commentators were confused, as it was just the first building that had been hit before I left for work, and they were speculating that it was probably an accident. But I knew that it was no accident. I'd been waiting for years, wondering when it would happen. Because in my mind, anyone who had been aware of US policy and our position in the world had to know that an attack on US soil wasn't an "if" possibility but a "when" certainty.

As I sat on the subway, heading to Capitol Hill, and it was still not confirmed to be a terrorist attack, I admit that I selfishly feared for my life, because I was in a perfect place for a second attack--the DC metro system. Later that day, as federal managers ignored all FEMA guidance for handling a terrorist attack, and left the building like rats leaping off a ship, I walked to a friend's house, borrowed a bike, and rode along the Potomac back to my place in upper NW DC. The smoke emanating from the Pentagon was eerie, and seemed somehow not real, just as the main roads, including Connecticut and Massachusetts Avenues were empty of cars, but full of white collar employees, ambling like zombies, back to their respective homes to deal with what had happened.

I remember lighting candles in the windows of my apartment that evening, as hundreds of thousands around the area did that night. And the one lasting memory, aside from the abject horror of the lives lost before I went to sleep that night, was that, for the first time in a long time, we were once again, one country with a single-minded purpose. The legacy of 9/11, sadly, is the divisiveness and rancor that colors our nation today.

Dreaming of a better day...
But I'm hopeful. In spite of everything I write and talk about, I remain hopeful, that somehow the United States will again become the country I believe it can become. I hope that one day, we will all need to come together again for a better (but no doubt decidedly imperfect) union, without vitriolic accusations and ad hominem attacks on the "other"... day.

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