Tuesday, September 11, 2018

No, I Can't Forget

Lights begin to illuminate the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial as the sun sets
U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley
It has been seventeen years. If I stop and think about it, it feels like yesterday. The disbelief, the shock, the attempt to grasp the why of it. It all comes back if I stop and think about it. But how often do I do that?

Not often enough? The problem is that the wars in Iraq* and Afghanistan have gone on for so long that no one really pays attention anymore, unless you're wearing a pair of boots which are on that ground, or have a loved one wearing those boots.

At my place of gainful employment there is a thing they call "Remember Everyone Deployed" (think red) Friday. The idea is to wear a red shirt, I guess to show support for those of our military who are deployed, somewhere, anywhere? I don't participate. Why?

Well, my son-in-law is on active duty, I have friends who are on active duty. On any given day one or more of those folks is deployed. Not just on Fridays. So, while I understand the impetus to support those deployed, I get awfully annoyed when I see some corporate fire trucking stooge wearing a red shirt on a Friday. Doing it for sales, aren't ya pal? I'd bet the only people you know in the military are in procurement and you wouldn't know someone who's actually been down range. I'll betcha. Do they actually give a crap about those deployed? Maybe, maybe not. The number of Americans who have served, or who know someone who has served gets smaller every year. Just wearing a red shirt on Fridays doesn't cut it for me.

I think about those kids out there every damned day. I remember those lost on 9/11 and I remember those lost in the days, weeks, months, and years since. Where will it end, when will it end? Never? Somedays it feels like that.

Those who launched the attack on us on the 11th of September 2001 are all dead. Many of those who caused the attack to be launched are dead. So, will there ever be another attack? I wish I could say no. But I see nothing being done to ensure that there will never be another attack. I can't think of anything which can be done short of killing millions of people, the vast majority of whom are innocent. There are two sides to every story, those millions of dead may not be the ones you were thinking of, or perhaps hoping for.

What should have been done immediately after 9/11 was politically unpalatable. I have my thoughts on that and I understand why it wasn't done. Again, killing innocent men, women, and children is what our enemy does, not us. At least not in mass quantities. We try to limit "collateral damage." (Which is a handy euphemism for hitting an unintended target, like civilians or other non-combatants.)

It's frustrating as Hell to think that it's possible that nothing will ever change.

It was a beautiful autumn day seventeen years ago, when the world underwent a sea change. We can't go back to the way things were. Not ever.

Maybe I'm just a bitter old man. But I see too many people who only pretend to give a damn and not enough who really do.

I have no answers, only questions.

But I remember, and I pray for the dead.

And the living.

* "Officially" the Iraq war "ended" in 2011. I guess we shouldn't tell that to the eleven Americans who have died there so far this year. The Iraq War over? I call bullshit on that one.


  1. I concur with all you have written today. Non existant like button metaphorically pressed.

  2. Ya.... I remember that Tuesday morning, our office got closed and everyone sent home. Watched the tube for most of the rest of the day with thoughts and prayers for everyone in uniform that day. Haven't forgotten that date either since then. My attitude hardened that day and hasn't changed since then because the attackers had no qualms about killing innocent men, women and children because they weren't of the "right" religion. The so-called militant groups of that religion have been doing what that religion has called for since 610 AD. Wait until a dirty bomb goes off or the electrical grid gets hit, more innocent lives will be lost. I just want to be left alone to live my life, call me a deplorable or an infidel and treat me that way? You won't like my reaction.

    1. My son was newly commissioned, so that was scary. As to the a-holes from the Middle Ages, other a-holes have tried to subject the world to their beliefs. It never ends well.

  3. I, too, remember that day. My oldest son was 14 when that happened. He's seen the stars from Camp Casey to the Tangi valley since then. It's different to pray for someone you don't know that is serving. As opposed to a jolt awake at 0300, and the urge to pray RIGHT THEN is overwhelming and accomplished with fervor.

    EDC changed for me then, and still has. More geared to construction type gear than business casual. Getting caught with our pants down shouldn't happen more than once. And truth be told, shouldn't happen ever with the amount of raw capability we have.

    1. People get complacent, especially our politicians who are feckless idiots for the most part. Pissing away our security to play to the home crowd. Where's your peace dividend now Slick Willie? You a-hole.

      Yeah, I'm still pissed about a lot of things. I left for Germany on New Years Day 1992, G.H.W. Bush was President, came back in spring of 1999 to retire. I literally didn't recognize my country anymore. I despise the Clintons and all their ilk, they are the enemies of my blood.

  4. I think I mentioned recently that I spent some time serving in the California State Military Reserve. For awhile in the mid-90's, I was the Bn S3. We received a request from the county Sheriff's office as to whether we could come up with some training scenarios wherein our people could play the parts of OPFOR and/or casualties. We called a staff meeting (one ex-Army (me), one ex-Navy, one ex-Air Force, and one non-prior federal service) and set to the task.

    We wrote one particular scenario just to make the point of how wide open we were to a determined terror attack. It went like this---we have information that someone of middle-eastern decent, here on a student visa, plans to beg, borrow, or steal something in the way of a general aviation aircraft. They then intend to load it with some sort of explosive device (possibly nuclear), and crash it into the water behind Oroville Dam. The explosive device will have a delay fuse, allowing the aircraft time to sink. (Oroville Dam is an earth fill dam. All you need to do is spring a leak. Mother Nature will do the rest.)

    The reaction from our chain of command was a polite chuckle, a pat on the head, and an admonishment to write something "more realistic". Nobody wanted to hear it.

    Time passed, and eventually I burned out. As this was (and still is) an all-volunteer non-pay outfit, you can call it quits any time. So I typed up my request for "retirement" effective the date of the request and hit "send'. That date? 09/01/01.

    Yeah. I remember.

    "But I see too many people who only pretend to give a damn and not enough who really do."

    Here's to us bitter old men, Sarge.

  5. Life changed for my son, the cop; it changed for many friends driving folks around in the sky; and it pissed me off, so I guess I changed. Most folks don't have a dog in the race (except for their tax dollars). I think that's why we treat the situation so casually. There was no want to win in 1965 and there seems to be none now. Life and society continue. The conscience of the Nation has changed and we are moving toward the famous "one world order."
    It is Biblical.

    1. Yeah, as in "end of days" Biblical.

      And some call me an optimist.

  6. I remember. I haven't forgotten. The ones lost in the war against us, from Beirut, to the Cole, to all the embassies and nightclubs and airlines and Olympic venues and our city streets and twice against the Twin Towers, the losses all along. From bad decisions, from bad equipment, from bad leadership. All the murders and attacks by 'mentally deranged individuals' with no discernable motive' known that all just randomly shout the same two word phrase.

    I remember.

    I remember when we went in to Iraq and Afganistan with all the will and vigor that we should have used in Viet Nam, only to fall back on the same sorry, pathetic, hands-tied-behind-our-backs feckless rules of engagement.

    I remember when my nephew was deployed to Iraq towards the end of one president's reign of terror to fix things that were let go in the beginning of one president's reign of terror.

    This war has been going on for our nation since almost its birth. Most people tend to forget that. I don't. I was called crazy and stupid and evil in Junior High and High School for pointing this out. Same in College. Nothings changed. The faces Evil shows us are different but it's the same Evil.

    I remember. It's one of the many things that got me to vote for our current president.

    The evils committed on this day in 2001 were just the tip of the iceberg. A shocking 'Pearl Harbor' to our nation's soul. But the war has been going on unacknowledged for centuries before, and looks to be going on for centuries to come.

    We cannot wait for other nations to save us with their Winged Hussars, for other nations are far less safe than we are. We are our own Winged Hussars, and in a lot of cases we are the worlds.

    Dave, above, talks about no want to win. We as a nation pull away from what it would take to win, for that way leads to madness. And our political betters who know so much more than we have allowed this to happen, openly taking pay from the evil ones themselves.

    When it comes time for us to truly stand up and shake this evil off, I hope that it happens quickly, and thoroughly. This could have been stopped in 1972, or 1982, or 1995, or... It needs to stop, for any chance of our future survival.

    Dark days behind, dark days ahead. And I don't see much light anywhere.

    1. It's going to get worse. :( The ways in which mass casualties can be inflicted are getting cheaper and easier all the time. 9/11 took orders of magnitude less resources to pull off than Pearl Harbor did. It's just a damned good thing that for the most part, our current enemies aren't too bright. Radical fundamentalism and out-of-the-box imaginative thinking aren't generally compatible, but sometimes they get lucky.

      I remember that I heard they'd put CNN broadcast on the big projector in the sales demo room and had gone to see for myself (Internet video was just not happening that morning for me and probably most people). I got there just a minute or so before the north tower came down. A Vietnamese co-worker came in shortly afterward, watched in silence for a bit (he hadn't heard anything about it -- he'd had his head buried in code all morning), then asked me what was going on. I said, "War." "Huh?" "We're at war. Both towers of the World Trade Center have been brought down, the Pentagon has been hit, and North American air space has been closed with all aircraft ordered to land immediately." "War? Who with?!" "We don't know yet, but we have a pretty damned good idea who it was."

      I knew special forces units had to be gearing up for ASAP deployment, everyone else beginning preparations for whatever might be ordered, and any carrier battle groups on their way back from the Persian Gulf had to have already been turned around. God help help me, but I was ready to re-enlist that day if I could've (diabetes and whatnot said no way, don't even ask). My wife would've even supported that, though she'd have been worried sick. My Polish friend was far more practical in an almost Roman way. He said we should nuke them all and be done with it. "Enough!" I was unable to disagree much that day. All I could see was prolonged bloodshed. I fear bio-weapons targeted against crops more than most anything else. For those that are willing to die themselves, sacrificing your co-religionists is hardly a stretch, is it?

    2. We live in very scary times. God help me, but there are days I agree with your Polish friend. The 11th of September is one of those days.

  7. I read over at OldNFO's site that the USS Constitution sounded each attack and each collapse with a cannon salute and Taps today.

    Fitting that such a gallant and great lady, who won her spurs fighting radical muslims, saluted yet another assault upon civilization by radical muslims.

    And I still see no mass protests by US muslims against the 'radicals.' That right there says so very much, in not a nice way.

    1. Yeah, kind of like Irish internecine bloodshed. Mostly, people had a good idea of who the bad actors on their side were, but they either agreed with them, terrified of them, or both.

    2. Very. In both the Constitution has seen the never-ending war, and the co-religionists that support the jihadists.

      Especially since both issues have a clear and relatively easy solution (for said values of 'easy'.)

  8. Sarge, I would think just a couple of seasons of Star Trek TOS would cure anyone of wanting to wear a red shirt! But remembering the troops who are deployed and those who paid the ultimate price should not be limited to one day a week or a few holidays every year.
    We are beholden.

  9. How can I ever forget? I can't. It's burned in too deeply, like some tragic childhood event that happened long ago.

    I remember November 22nd, 1963

    I remember July 20th, 1969

    And I remember September 11th, 2001

    There are other dates I remember, like the day my son was born, but none with the stark clarity that those three dates are burned into me with.

    1. I still hold a dark spot in my heart for December 7th. Just to add that date into the list of Infamy. Added that date to my list from visiting the Arizona Memorial. How could a place be so cold on such a warm summer day?

    2. Yep. The day we spent at Pearl a few years ago was typical July weather in Hawaii, hot and humid. Yet there was a chill breeze blowing across the USS Arizona, and I could feel it in my bones.

      I was doing real good until I saw the oil bubbling up.....

      I still find the sight of 75 year old oil coming to the surface hard to deal with.

    3. Beans - for some of us, that date is hard-wired into our emotions. I post about that event every 7th of December.

    4. drjim. Yes, She's still bleeding, even now, still fighting her death, even now, with all her superstructure ripped from her. And people say ships aren't alive. You know better, don't you. Did your ship ever talk to you? Does she still whisper in your ear at night?

      The ship I associate with, the USNS Hoyt S. Vandenberg, is that way. I swear I felt it when they blew holes in her and sunk her.

    5. OldAFS. One of the first post comments I really remember making was on a Dec. 7th. Now that I'm re-reading the posts, I can remember others, but my first 12-7 I remember.

    6. Beans @12:00 - I know the feeling, my son's first ship, USS Briscoe, was expended in a SINKEX. When I saw that, it was a punch in the gut, I'd been aboard that ship, my son went to war in that ship. Ships definitely have a spirit.

    7. Beans @12:03 - I need to look for that one.

    8. Of course they have a "soul" or "spirit", or whatever you want to call it. Every ship I've ever been on, even for just a visit, has a distinct "personality".

      I spent 86 weeks at sea for Boeing on the Sea Launch Commander, a purpose-built ship based on a RORO hull design. She had a similar function to the Vandenberg, and she definitely had a personality, but she didn't "talk" to me much.

      The 5-1/2 years I spent volunteering on the Iowa are another matter entirely. I swear, she was alive with the spirits and souls of everyone who had ever served aboard her. There were times I was working by myself in one of the spaces, and I heard somebody come walking in.

      Then I turned around to see who it was, and.........nothing was there.

      It happened to me a couple of times, and some of her former crew smiled at hearing it, and said she'd "accepted" me as family.

      Oh, yeah, ships are alive, and you'll never convince me otherwise....

  10. A small "signum temporis" that I've sent to my friends on the net (fledgling as it was back then) on 2001-09-12, I've translated now into English:
    I dont know what to say... such a tragedy... whoever has done it, should remember Halsey's words after Pearl Harbor: "After this war ends, Japanese will be spoken only in hell!" If the Japanese went on with the operation "Ketsu-go" (mass suicidal defence of the Islands), this could be true. Fortunately, nukes have opened their eyes...
    It was long known that open, free societies are vulnerable to terror attacks, but no solutions were applicable. Who knows, maybe we are witnessing a birth of a new world. Against such criminals nobody will engage in legal subtleties. Once intelligence gets bearings on the organisers of this action, we can expect reaction with ruthlessness equaling that of 40k Inquisition. Air raids, special forces ops, maybe even tactical nukes. Survival of the western civilization is in question. Will it stay democratic? How far it will go to bring security, how many freedoms will be curtailed?
    Idiots dancing with joy on the streets of the Palestine cant understand that possibly Israel just has been granted full US support, for many years.
    Us here in Poland will be probably worst hit by economic fallout. Fortunately we dont seem important enough for attack...
    Please, respond with your thoughts....
    Very sad Ewok"

    1. Your great country has seen more strife and turmoil than most Americans could ever fathom.

      Stay safe, friend. You have trouble brewing on either side of you.

      And thanks for thinking about us. So many people and nations out there seem to hate our guts and want us dead.

    2. Yup. WW2 alone saw Poland losing circa 6 millions citizens out of 30 millions prewar, half of that Jewish that perished in the Holocaust, rest due to German and Soviet occupation policies, warfare collateral damage, hunger and disease.
      US has few places where it is regarded with more goodwill, mostly because it acted with goodwill towards Poland many times in the past - from 1920 volunteers fighting Bolsheviks and Wilsons 14 points including one about restoration of Poland, thru WW2 alliance, to Reagan era support for Solidarity, to todays alliance via NATO.
      Most of major cities here have some street or plaza dedicated to Wilson or FDR, or even both.
      I may add that you would do well to look past official government-sponsored rallies of America-hate in many states, and see citizens who know better, and wish USA all the good luck.
      Also remember, the truly desperate are the countries that need to build walls to keep citizens in, not immigrants out :)
      regarding troubles brewing - maybe write to some local congressman, ask about if you cna supply some of the storaged Abramses to Poland, they fire same ammo that Leo2 use, and could be a major deterrent to any Putin's adventurs here... Putin might be doubtful Western Europeans would fight for Riga or Tallin, but he will be pretty certain Poland would be there as alliance and honor demands.

    3. Paweł - You know my feelings, my love for Poland and the Polish people. With such allies we may see hard times, but we will never go under. Your observations as to the feelings of the people versus the government, you make an excellent point.

      Niech żyje Polska!

    4. Pawel, right now my local congressmen are hard leftists who would welcome a resurgent USSR. Talking to them is worse than peeing in the wind during a hurricane and trying to stay dry. But I'll try. Y'all need as much help as you can get. We here in North Florida might have a chance if we can get that turncoat, Gov. Scott, to snag the senate seat from Bolshevik Bill Nelson. But considering the way Scott stabbed us in the back over gun control... Hate politics.

      Your poor country is an example of what so many of our ancestors left to get away from. And people here think they have it hard.

    5. Why give Abrams to countries in the Middle East (you know the one I mean, not Israel) when the Poles could make so much better use of them?

  11. I remember. And I will never forget.
    Til the day I moved out of NY state I was still seeing people die from 9/11. Slowly, horribly, from respiratory and blood cancers that had never been in the family line. Firemen from all over the Tri-State area volunteered to work on The Pile to find all the remains so that families could have closure. Most of those volunteers covered the fire houses in NYC, so that the NYFD folks could find the remains of their own. My next door neighbor went down 4 separate times for 2 week stints. She had just started dating again after being married to a true SOB, she had been divorced for almost 15 years. The fellow she was seeing, was killed when the North Tower came down.
    When I was doing home care nursing, we were just starting to see folks in end of life care who had worked on The Pile, or who were retired from the fire service in the City and had "moved up-North" as being in the City was just too much for them, mentally.
    The 9/11 syndrome is a real thing. Of that, I am convinced.
    My (then)husband had said to me that TPTB had declared the air quality to be fine. I told him that TPTB didn't have a clue, there was no way that stuff in the air was anything at all healthy to breath, given how old some of the surrounding buildings were that were crushed when the Towers came down on top of them.
    I agree we should have dropped a couple of nukes on them. Still think we should.

    1. The Pile will be the evil genie let loose from the bottle, killing and destroying families for years to come. No idea how many secondary or tertiary victims will be linked to that evil act. Family members who breathed the dust of their loved ones. Apartment dwellers who moved into 'safe' apartments still covered in dust. The evil gift that keeps on giving.

      9/11 Syndrome is closely related to any number of other syndromes associated with fine particle damage to the lungs. You see it in woodworkers from sanding and fine sawdust, in grain industry workers from grain dust (that also is explosive if ignited,) coal miners and so forth. Akin to some of the lung and blood problems seen in Londoners or all over Germany, Russia and Japan from the widespread bombing and destruction.

      As to the nukes, the problem (thanks to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, those two... ) was that we didn't know exactly who did it. Not for a few days. Though getting on TV and saying who did it, and then nuking Mecca, Medina, Baghdad and Tehran, and asking "Who's next?" might have worked (I think it would have worked quite well, actually, but I am rather bloody minded and foresee a new Crusade happening soon.)

      Why blame Bill and Al? They gutted the human-spy-asset side of the CIA, they put barriers between the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA to where they couldn't share info from domestic to foreign threats or vice-versa. And getting on national tv and telling the world wehad Osama Bin Ladin's cell phone number and were listening in. And so much more. Two more feckless bastards wouldn't be seen until 2008...

    2. Re: Europeans and Japanese with similar syndomes. From the widespread destruction during WWII. And WWI if you go back that far. Lots of 'unknown reasons' for lung and blood ailments in survivors from the trenches.

    3. Thanks for sharing that, Suz.

      Some good points there, Beans. (No surprise there.)


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