I shudder every time I am reminded that it is 9/11. For myself and many others, it is a flashback to that crisp September morning in 2001 when it seemed like time stood still for a couple confusing and terrifying days. Almost everyone who is old enough to remember that day remembers exactly what they were doing and where they were just as those who, like my father, remember where they were when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Every year since that horrible day, we are subjected to a litany of pundits and televisions spots that have to remind us of it — and how “9/11 changed everything” — every time we get close to September 11th (which is my sister’s birthday, BTW). I don’t have a problem with observing the day as one of quiet remembrance for those who died, but I do have a problem with those who use it to rip the band-aid off our collective consciousness annually for TV ratings and War on Terror propaganda.
9/11 was probably the most historically gut-wrenching moment for anyone alive today. I’ll even go so far to say it surpassed Pearl Harbor due to the number of casualties and the fact television did not exist in many homes back in 1941, as it did 60 years later when we saw the footage of the Twin Towers collapse. Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a cult commune without access to the media for the past 12 years, you’ve probably seen the clip of the second passenger jet slam into the World Trade Center more times than you can count. I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is almost as if we as a nation have a collective case of PTSD from that day, and we do not need to have that wound opened up annually by the media.
Let me tell you my story of where I was that day and what led to my disgust with the way it panned out from there. I was working at a gym to put my way through college and I had just finished a workout on the treadmill when the first plane hit. Thinking it was a crazy accident by an amateur pilot, I headed to the showers before getting ready to head to class. I came out for one last look at the TVs before leaving, just in time to see the second plane hit. It was then that I knew something much bigger had happened, and I decided to go to my girlfriend’s house instead of class. We sat there that day and watched TV while listening to John Lennon as the National Guard base across the street went on full alert, and kids we went to high school with now stood with loaded M-16s next to Humvees. Within a couple days, the manager of the gym went full “patriot” and decided to hold a weightlifting competition which claimed to be designed to raise money for the Red Cross, but ended up being more about selling gym memberships than anything else. Then we as a nation handed over our freedoms and cheered as we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars in which we lost more members of our military (not to mention the deaths of the civilians in those countries) than we ever did on 9/11.
On that day, I knew it was just a matter of time before we went to war with someone — anyone — and I’ll admit I supported the invasion of Afghanistan (but not Iraq). I cheered when it was announced a couple of years ago that Seal Team 6 had killed Osama Bin Laden and his body had been dumped to the bottom of the Indian Ocean.
However, 9/11 was 12 years ago and whether it is military interventions in Syria or anywhere else, it’s time to give it a rest. We can be vigilant for possible terrorist actions without compromising the privacy of American citizens. We can be an international power without being the world’s police officer. We can remember those who died that day in September without being manipulated by politicians or the media to sign off on another war. It’s been 12 years, Bin Laden is dead, let’s stop being used.