Fourteen Years Later

Twin Towers on 9/11 seen from Statue of LibertyFourteen years ago, we were terrorized out of our 90s-induced euphoria when 3000 people were brutally murdered.

This is the symbol of that terrible day for most of us. But a chunk of the Pentagon was destroyed, and passengers brought down another hijacked plane over my ancestral stomping grounds near Somerset, Pennsylvania.

It began like any other September morning. I’d actually called in late to work due to some minor car trouble. As I paid my bill, we saw the first tower on fire. Like most Americans, I assumed it was some moron in a Cessna who thought it’d be funny to buzz a skyscraper. Well, I’m always one to laugh when Darwin takes out the too-stupid-to-live, except that people in the building likely were hurt or killed. I got back to my apartment in time to see the plane hit the second tower.

One World Trade Center, aka the Freedom Tower

Joe Mabel [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Since then, we’ve patched up the Pentagon and replaced the World Trade Center. The new tower looks great, more interesting that the two simple columns. But something was missing for over a decade from the New York skyline. My mother, before she died, told me New York looked like it had its teeth knocked out. In the few times I’d been to the city, friends in Manhattan told me that it was hard to look south for the longest time because that piece of the skyline was gone, many of them remembering the smoke and the sirens and the collapse.

Not long after the attacks, WEBN played Don Henley’s “New York Minute” after Jay Gilbert said a couple words about the attacks. I had to pull the car over along Columbia Parkway so I could cry. I still can’t listen to that song.

What I wanted to listen to was Metallica and Godsmack and Alice in Chains. I was angry, and I need to leech that poison out somehow. Dark, angry music was the best way to cope.

It was a rough decade to be an American. Katrina, a poorly planned and executed war, and the economy brought to the brink have left us as a nation with a bad case of anxiety.

But I decided I wasn’t going to go along with that. My generation was “disaffected” when we came of age, unsure of where we were going, but that always annoyed me. My generation never had it so good as we did in the 90s. Yet we whined. It was reflected in our music. Then this happened, and suddenly, we realized how bad it could really get.

But I didn’t play along. In times past, when we buried our heads in the sand and hoped the darkness would pass, we got not one but two major depressions (1837 and 1929), a civil war, thirty years of the worst Congresses in history (Yes, even the 435 dimwits under the dome currently look like Einstein compared to the post-Reconstruction Congresses), the collapse of the steel industry, and…

Well, we need to stop whining about how things are, roll up our sleeves, and reinvent ourselves. Too many people point at the government and big business and whatever boogie man the overpaid talking heads scream about to grab ratings. The real culprit is in the mirror. So is the real savior. We need to go back to a “Just do it” attitude.

It’s what we as a people do best.

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