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September 12, 2006

''The moving finger writes, and, having writ, moves on ...''

nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it. ~~Omar Khayyam
Before I took the twins to pre-school yesterday morning, they helped me put out my flag in the front yard. A neighbor leaving for work drove by, happily shouting "thank you" at us.

The air was already warm at 7:30 am and the sky a brilliant blue.

Just like it was five years ago.

I let the day wash over me, watching some of the rebroadcasts of the 9/11 coverage out of New York, listening to the radio. I read tribute and testimony, one after another. Beloved brother, beloved wife - picture after smiling picture of ordinary people posing in ordinary times who disappeared in an instance on an extraordinary day.

Sunday, CBS finally rebroadcast "9/11", after an absence of four and a half years. I caught snippets of it, and the follow up at the end to see what five years has wrought on the survivors. One fireman said simply "I wake up to a sunny day and it's 9/11. I wake up when it's snowing, it's 9/11." For him, every day is 9/11.

The twins turn four in a couple of weeks and I realize the whole their existence is outside of 9/11 and they will never fully grasp the impact that day had on us that held our breath at the edge of unreality and beheld evil in its human form. No day for them will be 9/11.

Just like no day for me is Pearl Harbor, while it is a real memory for my parents.

The resentment that our world changed on 9/11 is palatable. Americans have always had a rather skewed way of looking at the future. We eagerly embrace innovation, dream modern dreams and relish the benefits of moving forward. Yet we ignore, and then become shocked, at the negative tradeoffs that come our way.

When I was a child, travel outside your home town, especially for leisure, was the stuff of the retired, who had saved for years. Today, even those of us with more modest incomes travel regularly. The world has gotten very small, with news of what happens on the other side of the world reaching us as fast as it reaches people in the town where the news happened. Modernity has provided cheap cell phones and cheap internet access and cheap travel and is a perfect means for those with bad motives to take advantage.

We can no more wish for a return to 9/10/01 then we can to 12/6/41. On 9/10/01, we had no metal detectors at my court house, and the receptionist's desk was open to the public. Now lines form in the early morning to set purses and briefcases on belts through x-ray machines, and our receptionist talks to the public through a sheet of bullet proof glass.

And when the next terrorist attack does take place on American soil, we may have to accept these measures at shopping malls and supermarkets.

Democracies are notoriously bad at war. At least when it comes to first getting into it. I believe its because we all have better things to do and the freedom to do those things. We just want to raise our families, have a little fun ... we act like the Hobbits who frown on adventure least it interfere with the good life. It takes something Really.Bad. happening to us for us to get the lead out. This is the reason that long stretches between wars has our military is ignored, defunded and shrunk. Don't "think" about war and maybe it won't show up.

Like a child "hiding" by covering his eyes.

I wish the two oceans were large enough to protect us. But that hasn't been true since 1812, even less true today. We don't get a choice in this war on whether to fight or not; we only get to choose where.

I say that with sadness and a little dispair. I don't want war, I don't like war. But I also believe sometimes it is necessary to fight. I will not be like the idiot with the bumpersticker that says "I'm already against the next war". The moral cretin doesn't realize (or doesn't care) that s/he is issuing a free pass to any monsterous evil that comes down the road.

Evil was perpetrated on 9/11 by an ideology as virulent as the one my parents' generation faced on 12/7. Our worlds changed and we adapt or we die. Move along with the finger, or stay behind and become irrelevant.

I have a stake in the future -- never so clear as when hanging the American flag with my grandchildren. Some day I will tell them about 9/11, I will show them DVD's of the events of that day. They will not emotionally connect with it, but they won't forget it. And that's the most important thing.

Never forget.

Posted by Darleen at September 12, 2006 12:13 PM


Don't "think" about war and maybe it won't show up.

Like a child "hiding" by covering his eyes.

That's one of the best metaphors I've yet seen for the liberal attitude toward the War on Terror. 9/11 yanked their hands away for about five minutes, and then they slapped them right back and said "there's no danger".

Posted by: Strider at September 15, 2006 11:30 AM