I had been an immigrant merely 5 months that fateful Tuesday morning when 19 wicked men flew two airliners into the majestic twin towers on Manhattan Island, one into the Pentagon, and yet another, forced into the ground by heroes, in Shanksville, PA. The mayhem, shock, sadness, and disbelief of that surreal day were superseded only by the brilliance of the sun, blueness of the sky, and mildness of the temperatures. Everybody knows that life has changed since then, and some would say, not for the better. We have not fully healed from 9/11.
First responders – those who have not died yet – would tell you that they relive 9/11 every day. Their nightmares, emotional pain, and symptoms of their lives slowly ebbing away from some respiratory or other disease contracted that fateful day, are constant reminders of 9/11. Those who have long since buried loved ones (if they had anything to bury) will tell you of their searing pain which, despite their gratitude for our memorializing their loved ones and this epochal event annually, is a palpable reignition of their pain. On a far lesser scale of pain (if it can be so called) the rest of us must face the variegated hassles of airline travel, which shall never again be the same.
Since 9/11 we may have become more ill. We have become suspicious, xenophobic, politically tribalized, and religiously intolerant, if not bigoted. This is no fault of 9/11, but it appears to stem from how we coped with the traumatic events, as well as with developments beyond. A controversial war that most have come to now acknowledge as ill-advised and unnecessary, polarized us. Misinterpreting disavowal of the war as rejection of our troops (I’ve never understood how anyone could make that stretch!) fragmented us. Ignorance about Islam frightened us. Lies in high governmental places alongside horrendous treatment of prisoners of war hardened us. Deficits from the cost of war, exacerbated by tax cuts (that benefitted only the rich) during a time of war, destroyed the economy and angered and impoverished most of us.
We have not fully recovered from 9/11, let alone the ravages of the succeeding years. But recover, we must. Even now, while we lack the political leadership to help us heal, being saddled with a divisive (and reportedly detached), demagogue in the executive, a congress overcome with fealty and impotence, and a