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Never Forget

It's 5am and I've been sitting here for almost an hour. Very restless night of sleep, partly from the heat and partly because my mind was using my dreams to sort out all the news I soaked up yesterday and the results were not pretty. My mind prefers not to rest. Even when my body is pointing itself towards the bed, even when exhaustion kicks in and I'm so tired my blood is yawning, my brain is still going at warp speed. I imagine the images and thoughts in my head playing out as a montage film clip on the bedroom wall. There's the sound of an 8mm projector - that clickity noise the film makes as it goes around the spool. The montage looks like a home movie from my childhood. Either black and white or muted colors, the images marred by scratches, sort of a visual static. Last night's film was a nightmare of airplanes that never reached their destinations. Those images were interspersed with those of burning buildings. It never leaves my mind. It's always there, a feather tickling the back of my brain. Little things - the roar of a jet engine, the site of the WTC in an old movie, a bumper sticker on someone's car - will set the feather in motion and I have to stop what I'm doing, take a deep breath and try to shake the thoughts out of my head. But there are some days, like yesterday, when the reminders are too much, when the images are everywhere. And then it's hard to push from the mind. The release of the 9/11 commission report yesterday pushed all the residual grief and anger to the forefront again. I can't imagine it was any different for anyone who still wears September 11, 2001 on their sleeve. Many people ask me, why don't you want to forget? Why do you keep on talking about it, thinking about, dreaming about it? bq. WE HAVE SOME PLANES
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States. Millions of men and women readied themselves for work. Some made their way to the Twin Towers, the signature structures of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Others went to Arlington,Virginia, to the Pentagon. Across the Potomac River, the United States Congress was back in session. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, people began to line up for a White House tour. In Sarasota, Florida, President George W. Bush went for an early morning run. That's page 1, paragraph 1 of the report. I am now defined by what happened shortly after I arrived at work on September 11, 2001. It defines my politics, my beliefs, my ideology and my heart and soul. It has changed me and forged me into something that is stronger and more determined than I was on September 10. It made me reevaluate my ideals and reorganize my life. It changed the structure of my world. It woke me up and made me more aware of the world around me. It changed me drastically and completely. Forever. There is no other way to explain it. There are no other words I can find to justify my obsession with that day and to all the people who question why I continue to write about, talk about and dream about it as if it happened just yesterday all I can say is, because it feels like it did. And I don't think anyone who chose to spend the time after 9/11 by sticking their head in the sand can comprehend that. How, after everything that happened that day, can you still believe that I am a hawk for calling it an act of war? How can you still believe that there is nothing to fear but fear itself? bq. The lesson of 9/11 for civilians and first responders can be stated simply: in the new age of terror, they—we—are the primary targets. The losses America suffered that day demonstrated both the gravity of the terrorist threat and the commensurate need to prepare ourselves to meet it. The first responders of today live in a world transformed by the attacks on 9/11. Because no one believes that every conceivable form of attack can be prevented, civilians and first responders will again find themselves on the front lines. We must plan for that eventuality. A rededication to preparedness is perhaps the best way to honor the memories of those we lost that day. ch. 9 of report, by way of Jeff Jarvis] As someone said this week (and I wish I could remember which blogger it was), we are safer. But not safe. I don't think we will ever be safe as long as their exists a group of people who wish us dead for being American or Jewish or Christian or anything that isn't Muslim. You can't wipe out an ideology, but you can wage a war on anyone who funds that ideology or harbors those who enact the tenets of that ideology that include the murder of innocent people. We are doing just that. But it's awfully hard to predict what people hell bent on annihilation will do. No one thought they would use planes as weapons. I received an email last night that said "Stop being terrorized. Stop cowering like a puppy dog." Couple that with some comments yesterday on my security moms post that imply I'm a overprotective paranoid freak, crippled by 9/11, who is turning her kids into fearful wimps. Well, no. We live our lives. We go to school and work. We take vacations. We shop and play and sometimes we even shop and play in New York City. We aren't hiding under our couches and I haven't built an underground shelter. While I remain fearful that another 9/11 could happen, I don't let it paralyze me. There's something to be said for being completely honest with yourself. Yes, I'm scared, some days more than others. Every threat, every bit of chatter, every signal that AQ is ready to go sends my senses into overdrive. But I still go about my day. I mean, what else can you do? Hiding under the bed isn't going to help if a supply of sarin is dropped in your town. But it's always there. 9/11 is always there because I choose to keep it there. The knowledge that there are people out there who want to murder you and I is always on my sleeve. And the knowledge that people I know were murdered by those very people makes it hard to keep my anger at bay when I am confronted by reminders.
At three seconds after 10 a.m., Mr. Jarrah is heard on the cockpit voice recorder saying: "Is that it? Shall we finish it off?" But another hijacker responds: "No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off." The voice recorder captured sounds of continued fighting, and Mr. Jarrah pitched the plane up and then down. A passenger is heard to say, "In the cockpit. If we don't we'll die!" Then a passenger yelled "Roll it!" Some aviation experts have speculated that this was a reference to a food cart, being used as a battering ram.
What would you do if this happened to you today? Would you be paralyzed by shock and horror that there were people on your plane that wanted you and every other passenger and crew member dead? Would you stare in disbelief at the scene? Or would you, in your mind, have prepared for this possibility by a few years of remembering what happened on Flight 93? Would your instinct be to cower, cry or confront? Perhaps on September 10, 2001 I might have been one of those cowering. Not now. I am fully prepared for a situation like this because it is no longer a piece of fiction ripped from an action movie. It is real. It has happened. I don't know about you, but I never want to live through a day like 9/11 again. I never want to visit again the horror and anguish of the days and weeks that followed. I never again want to attend five funerals in one week. I never again want to see my friends and neighbors and even complete strangers crying, grieving and scarred in so large a number, over so many days. What have we learned from the 9/11 commission? Is there anything in that report that will help us prevent another terrible day? Was the report meant to look forward or look back? Because looking back is not going to solve anything. Partisan bickering over who was to blame is not going to prevent another attack. Recognizing that we cannot worry about political correctness or hurt feelings of certain communities should be a priority. It is obvious who wants us dead. bq. In this sense, 9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests “over there” should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against America “over here.” In this same sense, the American homeland is the planet. But the enemy is not just “terrorism,” some generic evil. This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism —especially the al Qaeda network, its affiliates, and its ideology. [chapter 12, via Wizbang] We are safer. We are not safe. And only a comprehensive strategy that recognizes who our enemy is will make us safer. Only the realization by everyone that we are at war against a specific ideology and we need to be a bit more vigilant and a lot less liberal in our ideas in dealing with our enemy will make us safer. This is why I never forget 9/11. This is why the images are burned in my mind and my anger is worn on my sleeve. We must never forget who our enemy is and what they did to us. We must never lose sight of the fact that they declared war on us. I am not paranoid. I am realistic.. And I will never, ever get over it or stop carrying it around with me because to do so would be to become complacent. Which would be a great disservice to the memory of those who died for nothing more than a blatant hatred of freedom. Never forget.

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Comments

The first chapter should be required reading for every American. I had to stop an dwalk away from it when I started reading the report yesterday, because it brought it all back again. In more vived detail that just simply seeing the planes go into the towers.

I've pushed on past that section - and what they mentioned, that it isn't a blame game exercise, is accurate. It does go into the details of what happened, but it doesn't assign fault to individuals, it simply describes the activities in response to a very confusing set of circumstances - and highlights the systemic shortcomings of the response.

The section dealing with the rise of Bin Laden, and fundamentalism, is almost like watching the Terminator go after Sarah Conner. 'He can't be reasoned with, he won't stop, until you are dead'

Also, the details of who is helping them are certainly over the lines of the nice little lanes that some folks would like to use describing the Middle East. Lots of dirty hands are talked about - yes, even Saddam's (although they specifically mention that there is no evidence Saddam, and Iran for that matter, had a direct hand in the events of 9.11).

Possibly just a partisan read, but a lot of what I draw from this so far sounds like a fairly strong endorsement for the approach that the President has adopted - drain the swamp, don't just thump the gators.

It's 5am and I've been sitting here for almost an hour

Glad I was up at 3am blogging so you could link me. LOL

P

I would like to tell some Americans to stop burying their heads in fantasyland. Stop believing that we still live life like it were September 10, 2001.

That way of life ended on September 11, 2001, when two planes flown by Islamofascist flew into buildings and in an instant, killed thousands.

Never forget.

It never leaves my mind. It's always there, a feather tickling the back of my brain. Little things - the roar of a jet engine, the site of the WTC in an old movie, a bumper sticker on someone's car - will set the feather in motion and I have to stop what I'm doing, take a deep breath and try to shake the thoughts out of my head.

So unfortunately true.

This post is an outstanding, measured and articulate response to the 9/11 report, echoing the feelings that many of us share.

It challenges every American to ask the Question: are/will you prepared for the measures that need to be undertaken to win this fight?

(the post touches on some of the "measures" that are necessary - no need to expound - the majority of measures should be obvious)

Those that choose to obstruct, impede and politicize the implementation of said measures should re-read the 9/11 report and this post -- and should ask themselves the Question again.

This is why I come here, it is comforting to have other people share in my feelinging on 9/11.
My wife still shakes her head when I get emotional about it, I con't understand how people don't get emotional. I guess denial is pretty powerful.
Y'all may be Security Moms, but just cause I am a man/dad, does not mean I am automatically security minded, but rest assured I am.

I feel better knowing there are Security Moms out there, God bless Y'all

America can't go back; America can't forget. Scurity doesn't come from being unafraid, or ignoring danger--it comes from recognizing the source of fear and taking care of it as best as possible.

Thank you for a thoughtful, measured response to the importance of 9/11 (and many other issues as well)

btw, as I was just over there reading, is this the post you mean?

http://www.pamibe.com/archives/000562.html

"...when two planes flown by Islamofascist flew into buildings and in an instant, killed thousands.

Never forget."

YOU forgot, syn: there were THREE planes that were flown into buildings that day. I hate that I'm always the one raising this point, because I don't want to feel, nor do I want anyone else to feel, like I'm trying to diminish what happened in New York, but I have to say it anyway, because it REALLY bothers me when remembering what happened in DC is treated as an afterthought, if at all. I was there; I can't even think of what else to write.

Dave, it's not that the Pentagon is an afterthought. It's just than 9/11 was such a day of days that an event which would have been history-making on any other day is dwarfed by the immensity of other events.

Don't look at the Pentagon's being largely forgotten as a statement about the Pentagon. Think of it as testament to the overwhelming horror of that day.

Well written, Michele. Echoing the above comment, this is why I stop by here.

I fly quite a bit. Used to sleep on flights - I mean, before the wheels went up and until they touched down. I don't anymore.

Not because I am afraid (I still fly). Because I was changed. Because there are young men and women halfway around the world laying it on the line every day for us. Because the monsters who hate us are not going to stop.

I haven't read it either, but I did see this excerpt, and I believe it.

Bin Ladin and Islamist terrorists mean exactly what they say: to them America is the font of all evil, the “head of the snake,” and it must be converted or destroyed.

It is not a position with which Americans can bargain or negotiate. With it there is no common ground—not even respect for life—on which to begin a dialogue. It can only be destroyed or utterly isolated.

Dave, I was in Washington and the image I remember is the two towers but I could see and smell the smoke from the pentagon. Trust me it is not an afterthought.

Of course I think that one of the least talked about facts from 9/11 is that on one side Michele can (so eloquently) describe how that day changed her, and on the other side people have put it in the same category as the space shuttle explosions. And by that I mean they see the tragedy and remember where they were but were not affected beyond that. For many Americans, 9/11 did not change their views or priorities. And I think you can find people on both sides of the political spectrum that fall into this category.

And I believe that in the years to come this will be a very real factor in our politics.

Another great post Michele. Thanks for sharing your ability to put into words the things so many of us feel

Everytime 9/11 begins to fade, I look for things to remind me.
I don't want to forget, I don't want to "get over it"
I want to remember. It wasn't just buildings that were attacked. It was a way of life. Our way. Our civilization.
The 9/11 Commission admits we were asleep at the watch for a decade. The enemy grew strong in the cracks, in the dark places where evil grows.
There. I said it. Evil.
This is endgame, folks. The enemy wants us dead or converted; no compromise.
To all Muslims everywhere: Disavow these people. They called down the thunder and the storm has just begun.

See, I knew that would come out sounding wrong. I'm sorry. Let me echo everything positive that's already been said about this post, Michele. Thanks for everything.

Little wonder you have such a following. You put your own blod in your pen. Naivety and denial can be so dangerous.

We featured you today.

The horrifying thing is--even after 9/11, even after everything we know about the nature of the enemy, there are many Americans and Europeans who are so consumed with hate for their own societies that they have no interest in resisting those who would destroy us. This attitude is particularly prevalent among university professors, journalists, writers, and entertainers...ie, those who dominate the communications channels of the society. It is arguably the greatest threat we face, because it inhibits our comprehension of and reaction to the external threats.

Well said. 9/11 will always be remembered.

One of your best pieces, ever. I'm just sorry you had to write it.

Hang in there, kid. And buy a gun.

If you can't sleep - take aspirin or Nyquil.

AHHHH, my link to the 9/11 tribute is gone again!

I look at it from time to time.

I don't cry as hard as I used to.

Does anyone have the link to the big one w/Enya singing 3x?

It has the pics of everyone on the flights.

http://www.capecountysheriff.org/DOWNLOADS/911_Tribute/911_Tribute.swf

Brava.

One last word on "fear" ...
Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous. (He is also a fool.)

Robert Heinlein

Remember that as Kerry moves about the country with is "no fear" campaign and talks about the necessity of the USA to defer to the UN's judgment.

Dave J

You are correct, Islamic terrorists flew three planes. In my error, I was simply focusing on the buildings hit, in both Washington and New York, but had failed to include the plane that was crashed into a field.

I appreciate the correction, I won't make this error again.

"Two, three, FOUR planes!" -- Count Von Count

(((Michele)))

Michele,

Never Forget.

Me too then.

Michelle,

You're one of the best writers I've read in a long time.. your passion really comes through, and I'm so in tune with your feelings on this. Something else we share... I too have dream paralysis and I was floored when I read (quite awhile back) your mention of it... didn't know there was a name for it, other than sheer horror. I haven't had one in a number of years (drink too much.. maybe I've traded one horror for another), do you still have them?

I'm glad you continue to blog, you're a brilliant writer.

Sounds like we have a lot in common, Michele. I have been defined by the events of 9/11, as well, and those events are always in the corner of my mind.

I think about it literally every single day. I've bought books, I've poured through pictures, I've stood at the wreckage of the World Trade Center, I've talked about it thousands of times with my boyfriend who lost his wife in the Towers, the images of that day hum through my mind in an excruciatingly detailed loop. I can't forget. I don't even think I want to. It's important to me to keep it all alive and vivid, in part to honor the people who died that day and in part so I don't fall into this trap of complacency that is sweeping certain sectors of our country.

I'll vote Republican for the rest of my life because they're the only ones who seem to understand we were attacked that day. I get the feeling that before bed every night, George W Bush too has the image reel of that day in his mind that keeps him up just a little later than he'd planned.