Opening Statement



Friday, 9 September 2011

Remembering 9/11


[My regular teacher school and union blogs will continue after the anniversary of 9/11]

During our New York Trip In August, I often spent sunset down at the old WTC Twin Towers Site, relaxing on a bench and reflecting on all that has happened since 9/11. It was my first visit. I didn't know what to expect really. The site was a very busy beehive of activity as the workers prepared for the big 10th anniversary memorial this weekend. The original foundations remain, but are being turned into fountains of a sort, with water running down their sides, not unlike a waterfall of tears. The new glass and steel tower is about half the height of the original WTC and growing taller every day. I was greeted by the buzz of construction cranes, machinery and crew working around the clock for the big occasion.

As I sat there, I found myself wondering how many folk around the world have died as "collateral damage" in other bombed out buildings since that day. More? Less? Was the "War on Terror" such a good idea? As I sat on my bench the sunset over the 9/11 site disappeared behind the New York skyline in a burst of fading crimson. I recalled my political science studies in university. We learnt that theoretically one of the main objectives of terrorism is to get the target to react in a detrimental way and disadvantage themselves, usually by exercising repression at home and lashing out aggressively against others. That's when the real most serious damage occurs;  from what the leaders of the victim country do or don't do themselves in the wake of the terrorist act.

Immediately after 9/11 the United States as a people had the sympathy and a shared mutual concern with much of the world. It almost seemed like a moment of unity. The post cold war world era had been knocked ajar and the world as we knew it seemed inevitably posed to pivot in a new direction, one way or another.

I'd bet many of us around the world, for a moment anyway wondered; how can we work together to effectively stop terrorism? Many, many other countries could identify with the situation because they had suffered from terrorist acts too. And quite basically, the very thought of the thousands of innocent 9/11 victims was and remains a very sickening thought, even in Canada where we have so far been spared this horror.

Before 9/11 the US deficit was not a big issue nor was there any Homeland Act limiting civil liberties in the United States. For many nations it was a time of peacetime prosperity. Even the number of wars around the world had significantly declined since the collapse of the Soviet bloc. After WW1, WW 2 , the Cold War, and a century of unprecedented war and strife, our future in the new dawn of the 21st Century had for a very brief while seemed a lot brighter indeed.

When the August sun had set and all was dark at the 9/11 site, except for the work lights, I was no closer to  any other sound conclusions about what we can now do than any of us I suppose. Had war in Afghanistan and Iraq really been the right way to go? It sure doesn't seem so. Then what were the other alternatives? There are no easy answers, then or now for that matter, for how we can get out of this mess. Everything has changed, and not for the better.

Then again life goes on. The World Trade Centre, now the World Financial Centre is being rebuilt, hopefully not to be knocked down again. As I write there is another alert in the US of a possible terrorist attack set to coincide with this weekends 9/11 memorial. The post modern imagery of American airliners being hijacked and crashed into the symbols of US commerce and military might, then causing a collapse is rarely mentioned or considered, out of respect for those who died perhaps. I'm afraid we don't live in very rational, patient or prudent times. The cycle of violence spirals on.

I remember in the 1990's I used to communicate on the internet with the night staff at one of the offices located in the twin towers. We'd exchange music files on Napster back when it was all the craze. They had a huge MP3 library and were pleased to copy a few Beatle concerts from me. I never heard from them again after 9/11. Did they finish their shift and go home? Or did they die too? I suppose I'll never know. Still the unsettled feeling pales so significantly against the great loss of the many American people, and others from around the world who have lost their innocent family members and loved ones through terrorism and war since 9/11. I know my heart and prayers will be with them this weekend. May God bless!

PS: I have posted some photos from the 9/11 site taken last month and out of respect will keep them up for the weekend. This weeks "Welcome Back" posting is below.

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