91101 was a beautiful day in which, to borrow from Yeats, a terrible beauty was born. I’ve written about 91101 more than once; how we prayed, how the powers that be at my office demanded in vain that we turn off the televisions and get back to work, how my then-kindergarten age son came bounding down the stairs to watch Scooby-Doo and saw something far, far worse.
We didn’t have social media then; the internet was around but Facebook and Instagram and Reddit weren’t even on the drawing board yet. There were bloggers, but even that phenomenon was in its infancy. I didn’t start this feature until four years after the events of 91101. I’m still blogging, but most people have long since abandoned the field.
Many believe the aftermath was a botch. I agree. Homeland Security is a vast, pointless bureaucracy more concerned with security theater than protecting anything other than its own prerogatives. We’re still fighting in Afghanistan, even though no one seems to know why. Iraq was a blunder that continues to haunt us. We have troops deployed over vast regions, defending people who despise us. And yet, as recently as last week, it appeared we were going to invite the Taliban, who gave bin Laden safe harbor, an opportunity to visit to Camp David. It's a change I cannot understand
91119 has been, at least in the Minneapolis area, a rainy, nasty day. We’re at a rainy, nasty time in our history. We've grown older and our priorities have changed. That's inevitable; a lot happens in 18 years. My kindergarten-age son is now a college graduate, while my toddler daughter is a college sophomore. People remember the moment, but it has become more of a historical moment than a shared experience. And the cynics and conspiracy theorists have taken the field. Social media makes it easy for people to peddle nonsense and outright lies (where’s the plane that hit the Pentagon?! What about WTC 7?). I’ve seen several screeds on social media today to that effect. It’s disheartening.
I don't pretend to have answers. The last 18 years have, in various ways, disabused me of many notions I had about how the world actually works. But the one thing I did that day still makes sense to me; and I will again pray for the families who suffered and continue to suffer, and for a greater understanding.