Monday, September 11, 2006

5 Years Later 9/11

The view of the fallen Towers from right outside my home in Harlem 9/11/2001


Well with today being the 5th year since the attacks of 9/11/2001 I am sure this is the most blogged about topic of the day. Well since now I am trying to blog on a more regular basis being home I will talk about what is going on, and today in NYC it was all about 9/11 remembering 5 years later. I guess this will be my take on the day in 2001 and where we are now in 2006.

The day itself for me started as many days back then did, I was not working at the time, so I would wake up whenever my natural body clock had me waking up, on a Tuesday this was about 9am since I rarely go out on Monday nights. I woke up and turn on the TV around 9am and naturally went to the Today show, the first plane had already hit the towers and I kinda woke up thinking this was a dream, then within a few minutes of watching the 2nd plane hit and I was like oh damn.. What they tried to do in 1993 with a simple truck bomb, they are going to accomplish today with large airplanes. Yet despite the terror going on in lower manhattan there was no immediate terror or worry for me. I remember calling a buddy of mine in Jersey to tell him to Turn on the TV and watch. I knew my mother was working at an elementary school right across the street, one of my sisters was at City College even further up in Harlem on 138th street than me, and my other sister was in the Bronx at the time at her High School. While my father lived downtown on 19th street, he doesnt have any business near the WTC, so I wasnt initially worried at all about him. Like many others I was tranfixed on the TV, the phone rang every once in a while I remember getting a few calls from former work collegues in Chicago asking me what the hell was going on. I got on the Internet as DSL was still working despite many phone and celly;s going down, seems alot of people were on AOL Messenger and people were using that to communicate they were safe and wondering how to escape Manhattan as all the bridges and tunnels and subways were closed off.

As the day went on, and both of the towers Fell and the death toll was going to be extreme, first reports had 50,000 people working in both buildings when they were full. Well thankfully the Towers each stood about 1hr after being hit, which allowed plenty of people both in the Towers and in the surrounding area to get out of town. One thing about Lower Manhattan/Financial District, and I knew this from working down there as a summer Intern years before, was that all the buildings are PACKED in one tiny area, so alot of people worked in that little area. Thankfully a majority of people who could escape did, and sadly most people trapped above the strike zone had no chance to get out and perished. Yet on that day I never got a chance to mourn, never got sad, and dont think I cried. Why? Well my main concern was "How the hell am I going to find a job now.." knowing that the economy of NYC which was already fragile after the internet company crashes from 2000 and 2001, and the stock market that had taken a bit of a nose dive were going to be in the shitter. I had been searching for work for about 2 months pretty full time, and in fact about a week before 9/11 actually mailed a resume and cover letter to a Storage Area Networking company that was based in the tower, not sure if it was South or North tower, but I do remember it was on a high floor, like the 90th plus floor, which as we all know was a doomed zone.

Once everyone in my family made it back from work, we watched TV at my place since I had the biggest TV and was home all day. I know my mom cried, my sister was shocked and had to walk from the Bronx to Harlem, and my other sister kept on saying "remember this day, this is going to be the day that changes your generation.." boy was she ever correct in that regard. The news reporting was full of confusion in the first days that followed as the missing presumed dead numbers went as high as 7000 people. The city below 14th street was basically shut down for a week. In the end i think the offical count at the WTC turned out to be 2,749 people killed. From watching today the names/ages of the people I was shocked at how many young people, in their 20's and 30s were among the dead. The future almost totally wiped out, I read today the average age of the dead was 39 years old. I also remember the first time I went anywhere near downtown was a week later to see a band David Kolker that always played on Tuesdays, play at the Baggot Inn on West 3rd street. Walking from the subway stop at Sullivan Square you got out and usually could see the towers right down 7th avenue, instead you saw a pile of smoke, and could smell the smoke.. The Baggot Inn is located right next to a fire house, and walking past that firehouse, it was filled with flowers and candles, considering their proximity to the towers, it was no suprise that they lost some men on that day, I believe it was 2 or 3 members of their squad.

The Healing process took a while for sure, but again for me I didnt have the anxiety attacks, fears, or worries that most people had, I just needed a job. Well in February I managed to get a job at the time so my wait was not as long as others. As it turned out I didnt know anyone directly who was killed in the attacks, while this does not mean I was excused from grieving, it did make the whole incident less personal for me than for people who worked in the area or lost loved ones. My sister did have a friend from high school, whose husband is a photographer and rushed to the area to take pictures and perished when the towers fell, so in some ways eevryone in NYC was way less than 6 degrees of seperation from knowing someone who perished.

5 years later it is embarassing at the status of the rebuilding. When Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans called the site a "hole in the ground" I clapped and agreed wit him. That is exactly what it is now, when people come to NYC to visit and want to go see Ground Zero, I tell them how to get there and stay home. I have no desire to go there until it is a proper memorial and not some construction site. Between the in fighting of the politicians, insurance companies, private developers, governors of 2 states, congressman and city council members using the WTC rebuilding as a political way to get more $$$ for their area its totally sickening what is going on. The fact that 5 years has passed and all we have to show in a rebuild 7 WTC building that is still without any tenants to rent out. Its obvious that office space is not needed, there is plenty of other office space in NYC. This is a burial ground people, of the 2749 victims, I read more than half of those people NOTHING human was recovered, zip nadda no human remains of the people. The intense heat and fire basically creamated these people, they were the dust that fell on the site. Just like other mass grave burial sites from Pearl Harbor to the Titanic, it should be left as a final resting place. Dont build 10 million square feet of office space on the site where 2749 people died, while I dont believe totally in ghosts I know there will be some bad vibes and haunting spirits in whatever building are built. Turn the whole 16 acres itno a memorial site, a nice memorial site, even if it costs $1 billion dollars, the price tag that Gov. Pataki balked at years ago. He also said in 2003 that by 2006 the Freedom tower will be completed and topped off at 1776 feet, well its 2006 and its still a hole in the ground.. I dont buy the whole if we dont rebuild, it shows the terrorists that they won... I dont buy that argument at all..

As for the immediate aftermath of the attacks the War in Afghanistan and Pakistan, along with the illegal war in Iraq.. hmm where to begin. While initally I might have supported the war in Afghanistan, word is coming from there now that that Taliban is regouped and stronger than it was when we first attacked 5 years ago. They are attacking more, more organized, more money from a banner drug crop, got plenty of weapons and now are attacking the USA at a higher rate..


So what exactly have we done in 5 years, other than introduce the word "Daisy Cutter" into our vocab. We havent gotten Osama, we dont even know what the leader of the Taliban Mullah Omar even looks like much less how to caputre/kill him.. The world standing of the USA is about 5 notches down, between our secret prisons, not sticking to geneva convention, Abu Grave prision torture pictures, CIA eastern european torture cells, whatever.. As for the war in Iraq, well that was BS from the start, a way to steal their oil and get rid of Saddam, son G.W Bush finishing off what his daddy couldnt do in 1991. That war sickened me from the beginning and now in 2006 its worse than at any time. Average of 2 american soldiers dying each day, 100 Iraqis dying each day, the country on verge of Civil War, oil output down from pre-war time, the country having no interest in "Democracy" or any other american imperialism we try to impose around the world. Basically the world has had it with the bully americans. While I would like to support the troops, I just simply cant. I know they are just following orders, but when the orders are Illegal and totally tearing a country apart how can you just blindly support that and tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree. While it does pain me every time i read or see a 22 year old Marine getting killed over Bush's war for oil, the term "support the troops" is something I have a problem with. I dont support the commander in chief or his decisions, so how could I also support the troops.. I dont buy into that "they are fighting so we can have our freedoms at home" well Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11 as Bush has said, but yet he tries to find a way to tie it into the whole war on terror as if we dont get them there, they will get us here stuff.. whatever..

I think we need to worry about our problems at home and not in Iraq, Katrina taught us about protecting and providing for our own. We have an immigration problem, we have Health Care costs out of control, Bad Economy, Climate Change, Energy Policy needed.. The $$$ being spent for a war that cant be won, just isnt worth it, so yes cut and run, get out, bring the troops home, admit we messed up Iraq worse than any backwards dictator could ever do and bring the troops home.. Bin Laden is chillin in a cave watching CNN on a 50" TV now and will be for a while. While i know if we leave the chance of Al Qaeda getting stronger and planning another attack yes will be greater, we will just have to strengthen our defenses, our human intelligence, electronic intelligence whatever, but its not like we have caught him now after 5 years, who knows if we can catch him if given another 5 or 10 years.. Yes in the years while the USA has been spared from attacks other cities like Madrid and London have been hit and hit hard. While in a sick way, I expect NYC to be hit again sometime in the future, I dont dwell on that in going about my day to day business.

The future has lessons for each of us for sure, and 9/11 might have woken some of us up to these things. From now on, we should hug our loved ones a bit longer, call that person you havent in a while, end dumb grudges with friends/family.. as in todays world you never know when the next earthquake, tsunami, hurricane or whatever is going to come along and take someone away from us..

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