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Power User
Posts: 42494

« on: September 03, 2011, 05:11:21 PM »

Critic’s Notebook
Amid the Memorials, Ambiguity and Ambivalence
Published: September 2, 2011
Has any attack in history ever been commemorated the way this one is about to be? What might we have anticipated, that morning of Sept. 11, as we watched the demonically choreographed assault unfold? What could we have imagined when New York City was covered in the ashes of the twin towers and their dead, or when a section of the Pentagon — the seemingly invulnerable core of the world’s most powerful military — was reduced to rubble? Or when we finally understood that but for the doomed bravery of several heroes, the destruction of the Capitol or the White House was assured?

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InterRelations Collaborative
“9/11 Peace Story Quilt,” at the Met Museum.

Enlarge This Image

Marcus Yam/The New York Times
Seen from ground zero, the twin beams of the “Tribute in Light,” which conveyed the absence of the World Trade Center during last year's Sept. 11 anniversary.

Would we have conjured up anything like the “9/11 Peace Story Quilt,” now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with children’s drawings and words emphasizing the need for multicultural sensitivity? Or a book paying tribute to “Dog Heroes of September 11th”? Would we have predicted that the performance artist Karen Finley would impersonate Liza Minnelli at the West Bank Cafe for the occasion, supposedly to champion her spunky spirit (though Ms. Finley will probably be far more mischievous)? Or that a Film Forum festival would pay tribute to the N.Y.P.D. with 19 movies, some unflattering (like “Serpico”)?

The cultural commemorations scheduled for this anniversary will also include compositions that have been associated with death (Brahms’s “Requiem”) and the overcoming of death (Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony), as well as a “Concert of Peace” that will offer music from the cultures out of which the attackers arose.

And while the hours of television broadcasts will include documentaries and interviews with first responders, families of victims, political leaders and the players of the New York Mets, they will also encompass “The Suze Orman Show,” focusing on the money and investment lessons of Sept. 11; a show about messages received from the dead of Sept. 11; and a chronicle of Paul McCartney’s experiences on Sept. 11. There are plays about the rescuers, the rescued and the witnesses; symposiums about American political malfeasance; analyses of the ethics of the attack and the response.

The sheer quantity of cultural events is overwhelming; so is their scattered miscellany, a potpourri of sentiment and argument, memorialization and self-criticism, reflection and political polemic. It seems as if every cultural institution, television network and book publisher feels duty-bound to produce some sort of Sept. 11 commemoration. Is there a precedent for this almost compulsive variety show about an attack on a nation’s people?

No examples suggest themselves. And in the United States, the attack on Pearl Harbor — the only incident remotely comparable — doesn’t seem to have inspired anything similar, even though that surprise assault initiated one of the most traumatic and transformative decades in this nation’s history. Did anybody think to have children make a “peace quilt” after that attack, as a war raged?

Of course Sept. 11 is something different. Most of us didn’t think we had such enemies or were subject to such an assault (though the accumulated evidence was clear enough). And reactions to Sept. 11 still depend on the extent to which we are thought to be in anything like a war, or precisely what the nature of its battles are. But the crossing of an American version of the Maginot Line undermined our implicit sense of the geographic exceptionalism of the United States, whose mainland has not been subjected to the bombardment or devastation known by nearly every other major nation of the modern world.

Had a bomb fallen on the twin towers, though, even that would have been less traumatic. This was something unforeseen, expertly planned, a jarring demonstration of vulnerability. So otherworldly did it seem when those planes were flown into their targets that their collapse came like a thunderclap of judgment. And that is how many immediately took it. “Why do they hate us?” was asked again and again.

And like theologians after the catastrophic 18th-century Lisbon earthquake, who saw the wages of sin in the disaster, many intellectuals didn’t wait long to assert that this blowback was payback. This is why this attack is often mischaracterized as tragedy, a drama that unfolds out of the flaws or failings of its victim.

That impulse of self-blame still runs through many cultural commemorations. Indeed, because little during the past decade was an unmitigated triumph, the impulse has even grown stronger. A poll from the Pew Charitable Trust this week shows that while in September 2001, 33 percent of those asked thought United States wrongdoing might have motivated the attacks, now 43 percent hold that belief. Many of the Sept. 11 books now being published are sentimental recollections of loved ones; another hefty segment is about criticism of American policy before and after Sept. 11.

This means that memorialization, rather than simply recalling the dead, or strengthening the resolve to pursue an enemy, becomes an opportunity to push these arguments further. Disaster becomes ambiguously commemorated. Any victory is also ambiguously celebrated because it is seen as scarred by sin (though surely no victory is ever unmarred). The delays in the reconstruction at ground zero are as much a result of these tensions as anything else.

You can see the same conflicts in the White House “talking points” for Sept. 11 commemorations that The New York Times reported on this week. The memos don’t suggest any cheering for successes of the last decade; there is even a hesitation to attract much attention, as if the White House were feeling ambivalent about the whole business, haunted perhaps by guilt. The memos also minimize any suggestion that military force had something to do with Al Qaeda’s suffering severe setbacks.

Moreover, they stress that commemorations here and abroad should “emphasize the positive.” The implication is made that at one time “fear” was the response to Sept. 11; now “resilience” is. And resilience implies a kind of firm passivity. This is strange, because anyone who has spent time undressing in snaking airport lines before undergoing the kinds of screenings once associated with convicted felons knows full well that this has little to do with resilience.

The memos almost treat Sept. 11 as if it weren’t Sept. 11. It is certainly not about Islamist extremism or the jihadist proclamations by its aspirants. It isn’t even really about us. We are told: “We honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation of the world. We honor and celebrate the resilience of individuals, families and communities on every continent, whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.” (Is it just an accident of alliteration that crucial cities torn by terror have been omitted, because that would have required acknowledging that Jerusalem or Tel Aviv faces something similar?)

Indeed, so anxious is the White House to filter out any historical aspects of Sept. 11 that it proclaims this anniversary “the third official National Day of Service and Remembrance.” It should be used to encourage “service projects” and a “spirit of unity.” Through such demonstrations, the memos affirm, our communities can withstand “whatever dangers may come — be they terrorist attacks or natural disasters.”

If that is the sense the national leadership finds in that day, why should we expect much more from cultural commemorations than miscellany, euphemism, self-effacement and self-blame?

But what might such commemorations look like if approached with more clarity? Some aspects would stay very much the same: this week’s miscellany, after all, is partly a reflection of the world that has provoked our enemies. For the Sept. 11 attacks were not just inspired by Islamist extremism. There are similarities in the motivations behind diverse acts of recent terror, including those of Timothy J. McVeigh, the bomber of the federal office building in Oklahoma City, and Theodore J. Kaczynski, the Unabomber. They all involved a disgust with modernity in the West and tried, in different ways, to destroy its culture and institutions. Democratic culture might seem innocuous to us, but it assaults fundamentalisms with its variety, unpredictability, contradiction, dissipation and possibility.

As many commemoration plans suggest, though, democratic culture also finds it difficult to conceive of this kind of enmity, overlooking, like the White House memos, the fact that Islamist extremism is one of the most powerful and dangerous manifestations of such passions. And that strain is not diminishing. The Pew survey found that 21 percent of all Muslim Americans now believe there is either a fair amount or a great deal of support for extremism in their own communities.

So a Sept. 11 commemoration might well be a celebration of democratic culture’s enduring presence. It might include the wide range of what we see before us: Noam Chomsky’s fulminations (“Ten Years of Terror” at the Guggenheim Museum) and an interview with former President George W. Bush (“The 9/11 Interview,” on National Geographic television); multicultural bridge-making; and lines in the sand. But is it impossible to imagine that in the midst of concerts and quilts for peace, communications with the spirit world and varied forms of political and psychological exorcisms, there might also be a recognition of what was at stake that day, and what, to a great extent, still is?

Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2011, 11:24:56 AM »

"Ten years after 9/11, it's time to face the fact that every risk can't be eliminated — and time to weigh the costs and benefits of security spending more openly.",0,5987445.column
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2011, 01:07:00 PM »

JDN:  That belongs on the Homeland Security thread.  This thread is for matters and thoughts pertaining directly to 911.  Thank you.
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2011, 06:06:06 AM »

9/11 and the Successful War
September 6, 2011

By George Friedman

It has been 10 years since 9/11, and all of us who write about such things for a living are writing about it. That causes me to be wary. I prefer being the lonely voice, but the fact is that 9/11 was a defining moment in American history. On Sept. 12, 2001, few would have anticipated the course the resulting war would take — but then, few knew what to think. The nation was in shock. In retrospect, many speak with great wisdom about what should have been thought about 9/11 at the time and what should have been done in its aftermath. I am always interested in looking at what people actually said and did at the time.

The country was in shock, and shock was a reasonable response. The country was afraid, and fear was a reasonable response. Ten years later, we are all much wiser and sure that our wisdom was there from the beginning. But the truth is that, in retrospect, we know we would have done things superbly had we the authority. Few of us are being honest with ourselves. We were all shocked and frightened. Our wisdom came much later, when it had little impact. Yes, if we knew then what we know now we would have all bought Google stock. But we didn’t know things then that we know now, so it is all rather pointless to lecture those who had decisions to make in the midst of chaos.

Some wars are carefully planned, but even those wars rarely take place as expected. Think of the Germans in World War I, having planned the invasion of France for decades and with meticulous care. Nothing went as planned for either side, and the war did not take a course that was anticipated by anyone. Wars occur at unpredictable times, take unpredictable courses and have unexpected consequences. Who expected the American Civil War to take the course it did? We have been second-guessing Lincoln and Davis, Grant and Lee and all the rest for more than a century.

This particular war — the one that began on 9/11 and swept into Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries — is hard to second-guess because there are those who do not think it is a war. Some people, including President George W. Bush, seem to regard it as a criminal conspiracy. When Bush started talking about bringing al Qaeda to justice, he was talking about bringing them before the bar of justice. Imagine trying to arrest British sailors for burning Washington. War is not about bringing people to justice. It is about destroying their ability to wage war. The contemporary confusion between warfare and criminality creates profound confusion about the rules under which you operate. There are the rules of war as set forth in the Geneva Conventions, and there are criminal actions. The former are designed to facilitate the defense of national interests and involve killing people because of the uniform they wear. The latter is about punishing people for prior action. I have never sorted through what it was that the Bush administration thought it was doing.

This entire matter is made more complex by the fact that al Qaeda doesn’t wear a uniform. Under the Geneva Conventions, there is no protection for those who do not openly carry weapons or wear uniforms or at least armbands. They are regarded as violating the rules of war. If they are not protected by the rules of war then they must fall under criminal law by default. But criminal law is not really focused on preventing acts so much as it is on punishing them. And as satisfying as it is to capture someone who did something, the real point of the U.S. response to 9/11 was to prevent anyone else from doing something — killing and capturing people who have not done anything yet but who might.

Coming to Grips

The problem is that international law has simply failed to address the question of how a nation-state deals with forces that wage war through terrorism but are not part of any nation-state. Neither criminal law nor the laws of war apply. One of the real travesties of 9/11 was the manner in which the international legal community — the United Nations and its legal structures, the professors of international law who discuss such matters and the American legal community — could not come to grips with the tensions underlying the resulting war. There was an unpleasant and fairly smug view that the United States had violated both the rules of war and domestic legal processes, but very little attempt was made to craft a rule of warfare designed to cope with a group like al Qaeda — organized, covert, effective — that attacked a nation-state.

As U.S. President Barack Obama has discovered, the failure of the international legal community to rapidly evolve new rules of war placed him at odds with his erstwhile supporters. The ease with which the international legal community found U.S. decision makers’ attempts to craft a lawful and effective path “illegal and immoral” (an oft-repeated cliche of critics of post-9/11 policy) created an insoluble dilemma for the United States. The mission of the U.S. government was to prevent further attacks on the homeland. The Geneva Conventions, for the most part, didn’t apply. Criminal law is not about prevention. The inability of the law to deal with reality generated an image of American lawlessness.

Of course, one of the most extraordinary facts of the war that begin on 9/11 was that there have been no more successful major attacks on the United States. Had I been asked on Sept. 11, 2001, about the likelihood of that (in fact, I was asked), my answer would have been that it was part of a series of attacks, and not just the first. This assumption came from a knowledge of al Qaeda’s stated strategic intent, the fact that the 9/11 team had operated with highly effective covert techniques based on technical simplicity and organizational effectiveness, and that its command structure seemed to operate with effective command and control. Put simply, the 9/11 team was good and was prepared to go to its certain death to complete the mission. Anyone not frightened by this was out of touch with reality.

Yet there have been no further attacks. This is not, I think, because they did not intend to carry out such attacks. It is because the United States forced the al Qaeda leadership to flee Afghanistan during the early days of the U.S. war, disrupting command and control. It is also because U.S. covert operations on a global scale attacked and disrupted al Qaeda’s strength on the ground and penetrated its communications. A significant number of attacks on the United States were planned and prosecuted. They were all disrupted before they could be launched, save for the attempted and failed bombing in Times Square, the famed shoe bomber and, my favorite, the crotch bomber. Al Qaeda has not been capable of mounting effective attacks against the United States (though it has conducted successful attacks in Spain and Britain) because the United States surged its substantial covert capabilities against it.

Obviously, as in all wars, what is now called “collateral damage” occurred (in a more civilized time it would have been called “innocent civilians killed, wounded and detained”). How could it have been otherwise? Just as aircraft dropping bombs don’t easily discriminate against targets and artillery sometimes kills innocent people, covert operations can harm the unintended. That is the nature and horror of war. The choice for the United States was to accept the danger of another al Qaeda attack — an event that I am certain was intended and would have happened without a forceful U.S. response — or accept innocent casualties elsewhere. The foundation of a polity is that it protects its own at the cost of others. This doctrine might be troubling, but few of us in World War II felt that protecting Americans by bombing German and Japanese cities was a bad idea. If this troubles us, the history of warfare should trouble us. And if the history of warfare troubles us, we should bear in mind that we are all its heirs and beneficiaries, particularly in the United States.

The first mission of the war that followed 9/11 was to prevent any further attacks. That mission was accomplished. That is a fact often forgotten.

Of course, there are those who believe that 9/11 was a conspiracy carried out by the CIA in order to justify interference in our liberty. But an organization as capable as they believe the CIA is would not need a justification to abridge liberty. That was a lot of work to justify something, and the truly powerful don’t need to justify anything. Nor do they need to leave people who are revealing the truth alive. It is striking that the “doubters” believe 9/11 was created in order to crush American freedoms but that the conspirators are so incompetent they cannot shut down those who have discovered the conspiracy and are telling the world about it. Personally, if I were interested in global domination triggered by a covert act like 9/11, I would silence those revealing my secret. But then I’m not that good at it, and the doubters all have reasons why they are blogging the truth and are not dead or languishing in a concentration camp.

I take this detour for four reasons. First, doubters should not be ignored but answered. Second, unless they are answered, they will be able to say the CIA (or whomever they think did it) needed one attack to achieve its goals. Third, the issue the doubters raise is not the structural integrity of a building but the underlying intent of the CIA in carrying out the attack. The why is everything to them, and it is important to point out that it is their explanation of motive that makes no sense. Finally, I am engaging the doubters here because I enjoy receiving an abundance of emails containing fascinating accusations and the occasional threat.

Considering the Failures

But to return to the main theme, it is important here to consider not only the successes but also the failures of the war, and here Iraq comes to mind. There is a case to be made that the Iraq campaign was not irrational, but even more interesting, I think, is the fact that no war is without its disastrous misjudgments, even successful wars. In my mind, the U.S. invasion of the Philippines in 1944 was a major mistake. It did little to contribute to the fall of Japan, cost far more than the 4,000 American lives lost in Iraq, and it could have actually delayed the end of the war. It was opposed by senior commanders and was essentially something Gen. Douglas MacArthur insisted on for political reasons. The Battle of the Somme in World War I cost 600,000 British and French casualties, with 60,000 in one day. Their total gain during the battle was perhaps six miles. And in the American Civil War, the federal drive into Virginia turned into a disaster.

Every successful war is built around a series of defeats and miscalculations. The perfect war is built around deeply flawed and unnecessary campaigns. My own personal selections are not as important as the principle that all successful wars contain massive mistakes. If we simply write off Iraq as one of these, that in itself does not change the fact that the American homeland was not attacked again. Did Iraq contribute to that? This is a question that warrants a long discussion. But conceding that it had no effect simply makes the post-9/11 war normal and, in that normality, tragic.

What has not been normal has been the length of the war. Heavy fighting continues in Afghanistan, Iraq is not quite done and new theaters for covert operations are constantly opening and closing. It is the first U.S. campaign — Afghanistan — that actually poses the most vexing problem, one that is simple to express: When is the war over? That, of course, depends on the goal. What is the United States trying to achieve there?

The initial goal of the invasion was to dislodge al Qaeda, overthrow the government that had supported it and defeat the Taliban. The first two goals were accomplished quickly. The third goal has not been accomplished to this day, nor is it likely that the United States will ever accomplish it. Other powers have tried to subdue Afghanistan, but few have succeeded. The Taliban are optimized for the battlefield they fight on, have superior intelligence and have penetrated and are able to subvert government institutions, including the Afghan military. They have the implicit support of elements in a neighboring major nation — Pakistan — that are well beyond American means to intimidate. The United States has no port from which to supply its forces except the one controlled by Pakistan and only complex and difficult supply routes through other countries.

On the other hand, the Taliban cannot defeat the United States, which can stay in Afghanistan indefinitely. But the major U.S. mission in Afghanistan is concluded. Al Qaeda has not used Afghanistan as a primary base since 2002. Al Qaeda in Pakistan, according to the United States, has been crippled. The Taliban, products of Afghanistan for the most part, have no international ambitions. Al Qaeda has relocated to other countries like Yemen and Somalia.

Given this, continued combat in Afghanistan cannot be linked to al Qaeda. It could be said that the reason to go to war in Afghanistan was to prevent al Qaeda’s return. But the fact is that it doesn’t need Afghanistan, and if it did return to Afghanistan, it would be no more dangerous to the United States than it currently is with its bases elsewhere.

In wars, and especially in counterinsurgencies, the mission tends to creep upward. In Afghanistan, the goal is now the transformation of Afghan society into one that is democratic, no longer corrupt by American standards and able to defend itself against the Taliban. This goal does not seem attainable given the relative forces and interests in the country.

Therefore, this war will go on until the United States decides to end it or there is a political evolution in Kabul in which the government orders us out. The point is that the goal has become disengaged from the original intent and is unattainable. Unlike other wars, counterinsurgencies rarely end in victory. They usually end when the foreign forces decide to leave.

There is talk of a long war against radical Islam. It had better not be. The Islamic world is more than a billion people and radical Islam is embedded in many places. The idea that the United States has the power to wage an interminable war in the Islamic world is fantasy. This is not a matter of ideology or willpower or any other measures. It is a matter of available forces, competing international interests and American interests.

Ultimately, there are three lessons of the last decade that I think are important. The first is the tremendous success the United States has had in achieving its primary goal — blocking attacks on the homeland. The second is that campaigns of dubious worth are inevitable in war, and particularly in one as ambiguous as this war has been. Finally, all wars end, and the idea of an interminable war dominating American foreign policy and pushing all other considerations to the side is not what is going to happen. The United States must have a sense of proportion, of what can be done, what is worth doing and what is too dangerous to do. An unlimited strategic commitment is the definitive opposite of strategy.

The United States has done as well as can be expected. Over the coming years there will be other terrorist attacks. As it wages war in response, the United States will be condemned for violating international laws that are insensate to reality. At this point, for all its mistakes and errors — common to all wars — the United States has achieved its primary mission. There have been no more concerted terrorist attacks against the United States. Now it is time to resume history.

Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2011, 12:12:16 PM »

"Here is an archival website that covers 9-11 as it happened.  You can see what was happening as it occurred and was originally reported."
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2011, 09:08:13 AM »

An internet friend sends me the following:

"I've known about this for years.  It's truly a sick thing, now nearly finished, and opening in Shanksville on 9-11 this year.  Check out Pamela's article today about it - she's been publicizing it as well.  Also click on the links to Tom Barnett's ads and detailed explanation.  This is a grotesque insult - another triumphal mosque disguised as a memorial to the victims:"
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2011, 07:38:36 PM »

The Covenant A Jewish Reflection on 9-11

Hat tip to our Rachel.

Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2011, 08:06:41 PM »

In our darkest hour, they gave us hope—the firefighters of September 11. In the chaos at the World Trade Center, the rigs pulled up, the men climbed out, retrieved their roll-up hoses and marched stalwart to the towers. Carrying nearly a hundred pounds of equipment they climbed the stairs; flight after flight after flight. A woman in the North Tower, descending from the 89th floor said, "When I saw the firemen I knew we would be all right."

When they arrived at the base of the towers, there were jumpers by the score. Two firefighters, terribly, were struck. "There is no other way to put it," an EMS who witnessed it said, "they exploded."

And still they went in.

In the lobby of the towers the men gathered, awaiting their orders. Outside the bodies rained down. Before a blown out elevator lay two victims, their clothes burnt off, their bodies charred. The huge pane-glass windows were shattered, the stone walls cracked. There was a report that more planes had been hijacked; they were headed to New York.

And still they went up.

In the South Tower, Battalion Chief Oreo Palmer, a marathon runner, shed his heavy equipment and coat and ran up the stairs. By 10 a.m. he had reached the 78th floor, the point of the plane's impact. The fires raged. "Send up two engine companies," he radioed down, "and we'll knock this down." Minutes later the tower collapsed.

In the North Tower, four office workers, two young men and women, were crossing the lower lobby, heading for the exit where a firemen waved.

Then the South Tower collapsed.

Its debris blew into the North Tower, killing FDNY Chaplin Father Mychal Judge and destroying the lower lobby. The ceiling caved in and the lights were knocked out. Now injured and bloodied, the four office workers climbed out from beneath the debris. Breathing dust, they gazed about in the pitch blackness. They had made it all this way only to die steps from escape. Then they saw the light. The fireman at the exit was still there, waving his small flashlight. The four headed for it and made their way out.

As they crossed the plaza into the daylight, one of the men looked back. The fireman was still there, standing his ground in case others needed help. And there he undoubtedly was when the full 110-story tower came down upon him.

"Courage," Winston Churchill said, "is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others."

Three hundred and forty-three firefighters, 37 Port Authority police officers, 23 NYPD officers and three court officers died at the World Trade Center. In response, America and the world hailed their heroism and sacrifice. Firehouses across the city became virtual shrines. New Yorkers gathered on the West Side Highway at a place that came to be called "Gratitude Point" to thank the police, firefighters and iron workers as they traveled to and from Ground Zero. Professional ball players wore their caps. School children's drawings honored them.

For weeks ordinary New Yorkers and visitors from out of town attended their hundreds of memorial services across the city and area suburbs—and were grateful for the opportunity to do so. When they were held at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Fifth Avenue—New York's Main Street—came to a halt.

Who—especially on the 10th anniversary of their sacrifice—would deny the first responders their due and proper honor? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His office says that because of the number of victims' family members attending there's not enough room to accommodate first responders at Ground Zero that day, though "we're working to find ways to recognize and honor first responders, and other groups, at different places and times." Different places and times?

When President Obama, after the killing of Osama bin Laden, visited New York City, he stopped by a Times Square firehouse that lost 15 men. Why did he do that? Later that day I had the opportunity to meet the president. I showed him a photo of my brother, FDNY Capt. Billy Burke, Engine Co. 21, who perished in the North Tower after refusing to leave the side of Ed Beyea, a computer programmer and wheelchair-bound quadriplegic. "I feel that the Navy Seals walked in the steps of my brother and all the other first responders of 9/11," I told him.

"That is just what I told the firefighters this morning," he replied.

The firemen, being who they are, would never complain or bring attention to themselves. I, however, am not a fireman. Just the son of one and the brother of another. To deny the firefighters and our first responders—these most humble and dedicated servants of New York—the opportunity to honor, at Ground Zero on 9/11, their lost brothers and sisters is atrocious.

Mr. Burke is the brother of Capt. William F. Burke Jr., Engine Co. 21, FDNY, who perished when the North Tower collapsed on September 11.

Power User
Posts: 245

« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2011, 09:06:08 PM »

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.
The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
— Edna St. Vincent Millay
Power User
Posts: 245

« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2011, 09:27:13 PM »

A tribute to the brave men and women who lost their lives to evil - whether by simply living their lives as free and enlightened people or by actively defending freedom.

This version of the Star Spangled Banner was created by Kol Ish. It can be bought on iTunes at
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2011, 09:42:02 PM »

The first battle in the renewed war against terrorism wasn't waged in Fallujah or Kandahar or Tikrit. It was held 32,000 feet above Pittsburgh, on Sept. 11, 2001.

And it wasn't soldiers who led the battle.

It was four athletes, pushing a food cart.

United Flight 93 was supposed to go from Newark to San Francisco that Tuesday morning, but 31-year-old Jeremy Glick wasn't supposed to be on it.

He was supposed to go the day before, but a fire at Newark Airport forced him to re-book for the next day, one of the bloodiest in American history.

About 45 minutes into the flight, four radical Islamic terrorists stormed the cockpit, sliced the throats of the pilots and took charge. They told the 33 passengers and seven crew members they were hijacking the plane and returning to Newark.

Glick, a muscular 1993 national collegiate judo champion, scampered back to the second-to-last row and called his wife, Lyz. It wasn't long before he and the others -- talking to their families -- realized that nobody was going back to Newark. They were on board a 150,000-pound missile, bound for some unthinkable end. The World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon had already been hit. What was 93 aimed for?

"We're going to rush the hijackers," Glick told Lyz.

Horrified, she pictured the hijackers having machine guns.

"No," Jeremy said. "Box cutters."

And Lyz says, "I was thinking, 'OK, Jeremy can handle a man with a knife, no problem. With him being so strong, and with his experience in martial arts and judo, he's going to unleash some terrible force. That's no match for him.'"

Mark Bingham, 31, was back there with Glick. He'd won two national club rugby titles with Cal-Berkeley. He was huge, fierce, funny and, incidentally, gay. He once wrestled a gun from a mugger. A knife wasn't going to scare him.

"I remember Mark and his buddies got thrown off an entire island once," says his dad, Jerry. "He told me, 'Dad, we lost the match, but we won the fight.' I know how he was. He'd have been definitely been kickin' ass and takin' names."

The third was Oracle salesman Todd Beamer, 32, a former shortstop at Wheaton (Ill.) College, a basketball star, and a soccer player.

"I knew, when I saw what happened," says his dad, David, "that Todd would be part of that. Todd was not going to be sitting in his seat while somebody was trying to crash the plane."

The fourth was 38-year-old Tom Burnett, a former high school football star from Bloomington, Minn. These men became convinced that they had to stop the plane, even if they had to stop it with their lives.

"I know we're going to die," Burnett told his wife, Dina. "Some of us are going to do something about it."

There certainly were more passengers among the 33 on board who planned the insurrection and stormed the cockpit, but we know about these four. All of them jocks. All of them with the physical and mental training to rise up when all seems lost. This is the best guess of what they did:

"We're going to attack," Glick told Lyz. "I'm going to put the phone down. I love you. I'll be right back."

Lyz couldn't hold the line. What she was hearing was sending her body into convulsions. She handed the phone to her dad and walked into a different room.

Beamer revealed the same plan to the operator, Lisa Jefferson, who was sitting in a call center in Oakbrook, Ill. When it was time, he let the phone dangle so he could keep the line open in case he made it back alive. She heard Beamer say to the others, "Let's roll." It's a phrase that would later be stenciled on jet fighters, NASCAR rides and above locker room doors.

Using a food-service cart as a battering ram, the attackers raced up the aisle and smashed through the cockpit door. It was almost 10 a.m.

"My dad said first he heard a series of screams," Lyz recalls. "Then he heard another set of screams. Then it all sounded like a roller coaster, up and down. And then it just ... (pause) ... ended."

Officials believe that the terrorists, being buckled in, rocked the plane up and down violently, trying to fling the passengers against the ceiling. Excerpts of the cockpit voice recorder tape are chilling. (Words in parenthesis are translated from the Arabic.)

09:58:52 -- Stay back.

09:58:55 -- In the cockpit.

09:58:57 -- In the cockpit.

09:58:57 -- (They want to get in here. Hold, hold from the inside. Hold from the inside. Hold.)

09:59:04 -- Hold the door.

■Enlargecourtesy Glick Family
Flight 93 passenger Jeremy Glick at 26 years old, five years before Sept. 11, 2001.

09:59:09 -- Stop him.

09:59:11 -- Sit down.

09:59:15 -- Sit down.

09:59:16 -- Unintelligible.

09:59:17 -- (What?)

09:59:18 -- (There are some guys. All those guys.)

09:59:20 -- Let's get them.

09:59:25 -- Sit down.

09:59:29 -- (What?)

09:59:36 -- Unintelligible.

09:59:42 -- (Trust in Allah, and in him.)

09:59:45 -- Sit down.

09:59:47 -- Unintelligible.

09:59:53 -- Ahh.

10:00:06 -- (There is nothing.)

10:00:07 -- (Is that it? Shall we finish it off?)

10:00:08 -- (No. Not yet.)

10:00:09 -- (When they all come, we finish it off.)

10:00:11 -- (There is nothing.)

10:00:13 -- Unintelligible.

10:00:14 -- Ahh.

10:00:15 -- I'm injured.

10:00:16 -- Unintelligible.

10:00:21 -- Ahh.

10:00:22 -- (Oh Allah. Oh Allah. Oh gracious.)

courtesy Bingahm Family
Mark Bingham, left, wtih his father, Jerry. Mark was one of the four who led the charge on the cockpit of hijacked Flight 93 on Sept.11, 2001.

10:00:25 -- In the cockpit. If we don't, we'll die.

10:00:29 -- (Up, down. Up, down, in the) cockpit.

10:00:33 -- (The) cockpit.

10:00:37 -- (Up, down. Saeed, up, down.)

10:00:42 -- Roll it.

10:00:55 -- Unintelligible.

10:00:59 -- (Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.)

10:01:01 -- Unintelligible.

10:01:08 -- (Is that it? I mean, shall we pull it down?)

10:01:09 -- (Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.)

10:01:11 -- (Saeed.)

10:01:12 -- ... engine ...

10:01:16 -- (Cut off the oxygen.)

10:01:18 -- (Cut off the oxygen. Cut off the oxygen. Cut off the oxygen.)

10:01:37 -- Unintelligible.

10:01:41 -- (Up, down. Up, down.)

10:01:41 -- (What?)

10:01:42 -- (Up, down.)

10:01:42 -- Ahh.

10:01:59 -- Shut them off.

10:02:03 -- Shut them off.

10:02:14 -- Go.

10:02:16 -- Move.

10:02:17 -- Turn it up.

10:02:18 -- (Down, down.)

10:02:23 -- (Pull it down. Pull it down.)

10:02:25 -- Down. Push, push, push, push, push.

10:02:33 -- (Hey. Hey. Give it to me. Give it to me.)

10:02:35 -- (Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me.)

10:02:40 -- Unintelligible.

United Flight 93 dove into a remote field in southwestern Pennsylvania, near Shanksville, killing all aboard. People 10 miles away said they felt the ground shake. It's believed the plane was headed for the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

"This was the first victory of the war," says David Beamer. "The Capitol dome still stands."

The hole left by the Boeing 757 was 24 feet wide and 18 feet deep. But the hole it put in those left behind sometimes feels even bigger.

This may be why Todd Beamer's wife, Lisa, does not talk about 9/11 or Shanksville or "Let's roll." She is raising her three kids -- 13, 11 and 9 -- alone. She didn't remarry.

In Church Hill, Tenn., Mark Bingham's dad doesn't need an anniversary to remember his son. He thinks about him every day.

"I haven't been right since," Jerry Bingham says, crying softly. "We work on it every day. You think you're gettin' through it, but you don't. You just don't. Not a day goes by that it's not on your mind, ever."

But not all his memories are painful. President Bush invited the Flight 93 families to the White House the week after 9/11. Afterward, the families were being escorted out the back way of the east wing. They were surprised to turn a corner and see that 150 to 200 White House workers had lined up on either side of them. They were applauding.

"The dishwashers, the cooks, the maids, the busboys," says Bingham. "They were clapping for us. They were thanking us. It just tore me up. And we were all crying and hugging each other. I'll never forget it."

Lyz Glick refuses to forget, too. She's turned Jeremy's heroics into Jeremy's Heroes, a non-profit organization that has helped thousands of young public school athletes who otherwise couldn't afford to train. "That's helped us to heal the most," she says.

What's also helped is something Jeremy said in her 27 minutes with him on that phone call. "Whatever decisions you make in your life," he said, "I need you to be happy and I will respect any decisions that you make.'"

Lyz was married to her grief for so long. She would continually call Jeremy's cell phone, just to hear his voice, over and over. Fold his clothes. Re-live the call and hope it was enough.

Finally, years later, she married Jeremy's best friend and best man, Jim Best. She has three kids -- one by Jeremy, age 10, and two with Jim, 4 and 2.

Many of the families of the Flight 93 victims have stayed close. So close, in fact, 24 of them will run in the New York City Marathon in November as a team, led by the sister, Kiki, of one of the slain pilots, Leroy Homer, a former high school track star.

You might recognize them. They'll probably be wearing T-shirts that read: They didn't quit. Neither will we.

Over 50,000 mementos, gifts and testimonials have been left at the battle site in Shanksville. Kids leave their favorite stuffed animals. People write long, emotional thanks on everything from granite stones to paper plates. One Vietnam vet left his purple heart.

Many of the families will be there Saturday, Sept. 10, for one final burial ceremony.

And yet 10 years later, the memorial that was promised these 40 people hasn't been delivered. The Flight 93 National Memorial is still $10 million short of completion. There is still no visitor's center to teach, no Tower of Voices to listen, and no 40 groves of trees to honor.

"I'm 69 years old," says David Beamer. "I'd like to see the thing get done in my lifetime. If you and everybody you know can make one little sacrifice -- one hour of your income -- we could get this done tomorrow."

I sent an hour's pay not just to honor the passengers of Flight 93 but also to thank them. My niece was working in the Capitol that day. This spring, she had her second baby.

To send your hour's pay, go to

The passengers aboard Flight 93 saved hundreds of lives -- if not thousands -- in 35 minutes. We've had 10 years.

It's a hole we need to fill.

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« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2011, 07:24:24 AM »

Pasting Rachel's post on Power of Word here as well:

9/11: Forgive and Forget?
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
We are not the ones who have the right to make that decision.

    God, I need your guidance. I continue to grieve for all the victims of 9/11 even after a decade has passed. My heart is filled with pain, and with anger at the terrorists responsible for the horrible deaths on that day of infamy in which 3,000 innocents perished. But I know that you teach us to forgive those who sin. In the Bible you often tell us that you are a God who is slow to anger, merciful and forgiving. We are supposed to imitate you and adopt Your behavior as guidelines for our own personal conduct.

    Does that really mean that no matter how difficult it is, I have to now tell myself to forgive all those who intentionally and with callous premeditation committed these unspeakable crimes? Am I guilty of failing my spiritual obligations if I'm not willing to respond to barbaric acts with love and forgiveness? God, how far does clemency go? In the name of religion, must I today be prepared to pardon even those who committed murder?

Forgiveness is a divine trait. It defines the goodness of God. Without it, human beings probably couldn't survive. Because God forgives, there's still hope for sinners. When we do wrong, God reassures us that He won't abandon us as a result of our transgressions. Divine forgiveness is the quality that most clearly proves God's love for us.

That is why the many passages in the Bible that affirm God's willingness to forgive our sins are so important. They comfort us and they fill us with confidence. We know none of us are perfect. If we would be judged solely on our actions, we would surely fall short. Thank God, the heavenly court isn't that strict. We can rest assured, as the prophet Isaiah told us, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."

It makes perfect sense, then, for us to understand that if we expect God to forgive us for our failings, we have to be prepared to forgive others as well. What we need when we're being judged from above certainly deserves to be granted to those we are judging. We are guided by the profound words of Alexander Pope: "To err is human; to forgive, divine."

That all makes it seem like we have no choice in the matter. Forgiveness appears to be our only moral option. But the more we study the Bible, the more we recognize a peculiar paradox. The same God who preaches forgiveness very often doesn't forgive. Instead, He punishes sinners. He holds people responsible. He criticizes, He condemns, and afflicts those who committed crimes. Adam and Eve sinned, and they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Cain sinned and was condemned to become a wanderer over the face of the earth. The generation of Noah sinned and a flood destroyed them. The builders of the Tower of Babel sinned and their speech was turned into babble. In one story after another, from the Five Books of Moses through the works of the prophets, we read of retribution, of accountability, of divine punishment, and the withholding of automatic forgiveness.

Isn't this an innate contradiction in the Bible? The same book in which God identifies himself as merciful and forgiving, repeatedly shows us a God of justice who withholds undeserved pardons. There must be something we're missing. There can't be such an obvious contradiction in the Bible. And sure enough, just a little reflection makes clear why there are times when God forgives people for their sins, and why at other times He refuses.

The Price for Forgiveness

Heavenly pardon is predicated on a condition. Before God grants forgiveness, He asks us to acknowledge that we were wrong and renounce the sinful behavior.

God is willing to overlook the sins of the past for the sake of an altered future. He is ready to pardon the most terrible wrongs for the price of remorse, regret and the desire for a new beginning. But the one thing God's forgiveness is unwilling to do is to condone vicious crimes by simply accepting them. An unrepentant sinner mistakes God's mercy for permission to continue his ways. To forgive such a person isn't kindness; its cruelty to all those who'll be hurt by the evil that wasn't stopped before it could do more harm.

Yes, it was the same God who drowned the wicked generation of Noah and who saved the evil people of Ninveh. Those who were destroyed by the Flood were given plenty of warning. They watched Noah build his ark for many years. Noah told them what God planned to do if they didn't repent. But they didn't believe him – even when it started to rain and pour like never before. So of course people who didn't see the need to ask for forgiveness weren't forgiven.

But when Jonah told the residents of the city of Ninveh that they were doomed due to their evil behavior, they took the message to heart and committed themselves to a new way of life. The people who changed were immediately forgiven. God wasn't going to hold their past against them – because it was really a thing of the past.

Don't Forgive Them Unless

Forgiving people who don't personally atone for the sins makes a statement: Repentance isn't really necessary. Can anything be more immoral than encouraging evil by refraining from any condemnation of those who commit it?

The day after the Columbine High School massacre, a group of students announced that they forgave the killers. A short while after the Oklahoma bombing, some people put out a call to forgive Timothy McVeigh. And on September 12th, on several American campuses, colleges groups pleaded for forgiveness for the terrorists responsible for the horrific events of the previous day.

These weren't just misguided gestures of compassion. They were serious sins with potentially tragic consequences. Evil unchallenged is evil condoned. To forgive and forget, as Arthur Schopenhauer so well put it, "means to throw valuable experience out the window." And without the benefit of experience's lessons, we are almost certain to be doomed to repeat them.

The terrorists who piloted the planes into the Twin Towers never asked to be forgiven. They expressed not the slightest remorse as they went to their deaths together with their victims. Those who sent them, those who financed them, and those who applauded their mission never for a moment regretted what happened. Forgiving them is no less than granting license to murder thousands of more innocent people.

To speak of forgiveness as if it were the automatic entitlement of every criminal is to pervert a noble sentiment into a carte blanche for mayhem and chaos. We might as well open the doors of every jail and release all the thieves, rapists and murderers. Our wonderful act of compassion wouldn't take too long to be followed by the cries of the victims of our folly! To forgive those who remain unrepentant is to become an accomplice to future crimes.

What If A Nazi Asked For Forgiveness?

What if a Nazi asked for forgiveness at some later date? What if a brutal murderer realizes the enormity of his crimes and honestly regrets his past deeds? What if the plea for forgiveness is accompanied by sincere remorse? Can the crimes of the past be forgotten? Is a troubled conscience sufficient to secure automatic forgiveness?

This is not just a theoretical question. Something exactly like that happened toward the end of the Holocaust. And the man who had to decide what to do in such a situation, a concentration camp victim who had suffered indescribable mistreatment and torture, wrote a remarkable book about his experience.

Simon Wiesenthal was a prisoner of the Nazis, confined to slave labor in a German hospital. One day he was suddenly pulled away from his work and brought into a room where an SS soldier lay dying. The German officer, Karl, confessed to Wiesenthal that he had committed atrocious crimes. Although raised as a good Catholic and in his youth God-fearing, Karl had allowed himself to become a sadistic accomplice to Nazi ideology. Now that he knew his end was near and he would soon be facing his Maker, Karl was overcome by the enormity of his sins.

More than anything else, Karl knew that he needed atonement. He wanted to die with a clear conscience. So he asked that a Jew be brought to him. And from this Jew, Simon Wiesenthal, the killer asked for absolution.


Wiesenthal has been haunted by this scene his entire life. When it happened, he was in such shock that he didn't know how to respond. His emotions pulled him in different directions. Anger mixed with pity, hatred with compassion, and revulsion with mercy. His conclusion was to leave in utter silence. He didn't grant Karl the forgiveness the German desperately sought.

Years later, Wiesenthal shared the story with a number of prominent intellectuals, theologians and religious leaders. How would they have reacted? he asked them. In the light of religious teachings and ethical ideals, what should have been the proper response? Was there a more suitable reply than silence?

Wiesenthal collected the answers and had them published as a book entitled, The Sunflower. The range of responses offers a fascinating insight into different views on forgiveness. Some, like the British journalist Christopher Hollis, believe that the law of God is the law of love, no matter what the situation. We have an obligation to forgive our fellow human beings even when they have caused us the greatest harm. A remorseful murderer deserved compassion.

And Who Are You To Forgive?

One rabbi offered a different perspective. No one can forgive crimes not committed against him or her personally. What Karl sought could only come from his victims. It is preposterous to think that one solitary Jew can presume to speak for 6 million.

This rabbi had been invited to address a group of prominent business executives. Among them were some of the most important CEOs in the country. His lecture dealt with the Holocaust and its lessons for us. He stressed the importance of memory and the need to continue to bear witness to the crime of genocide.

When he finished, one of the very famous names in American corporate life angrily rebutted the essence of his talk. "I'm tired," he said," of hearing about the Holocaust. You claim that you're speaking in the name of morality. Why can't you demonstrate true morality by learning to forgive and forget?"

To a stunned audience, the rabbi replied by asking them for permission to tell a story about Rabbi Israel Kagan, commonly known as the Chafetz Chaim. In the history of the Jewish people, he explained, there has hardly ever been someone considered as saintly as the Chafetz Chaim. A Polish rabbi and scholar of the late 19th and early 20th century, he was universally revered not just for his piety but more importantly for his extreme concern for the feelings of his fellow man.

Rabbi Kagan was traveling on a train, immersed in a religious book he was studying. Alongside him sat three Jews anxious to while away the time by playing cards. The game required a fourth hand so they asked the unrecognized stranger to join them. Rabbi Kagan politely refused, explaining that he preferred to continue his reading. The frustrated card players refused to take no for an answer. They began to beat the poor Rabbi until they left him bleeding.

Hours later, the train pulled into the station. Hundreds of people swarmed the platform waiting to greet the great sage. Posters bore signs of Welcome to the Chafetz Chaim. As the rabbi, embarrassed by all the adulation, walked off the train with his bruises, the crowd lifted him up and carried him off on their shoulders. Watching with horror were the three Jews who had not long before accosted the simple Jew sitting in their cabin, now revealed as one of the spiritual giants of their generation. Profoundly ashamed and plagued by their guilt, they managed to make their way through the crowd and reached their unwilling card player partner.

With tears, they poured out their feelings of shame and remorse. How could they possibly have assaulted this great Rabbi? They begged for forgiveness. And incredibly enough, the rabbi said no. The man who spent his life preaching love now refused to extend it to people who harmed him and regretted their actions. It seemed incomprehensible. So the three Jews attributed it to a momentary lapse. Perhaps, they thought, it was just too soon for the rabbi to forgive them. He probably needed some time to get over the hurt. They would wait a while and ask again at a more propitious moment.

Several weeks passed and it was now close to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Even the simplest Jews knew that they had to gain forgiveness from their friends if they wanted to be pardoned by God. With trepidation, the wicked three wrangled an appointment and once again were able to speak to the Rabbi. They pleaded their case. Still the Rabbi said no. He would not forgive them.

The rabbi's son was present as this strange scene played itself out. Puzzled by his father's peculiar behavior, he couldn't contain himself. It was so unlike anything he had ever witnessed before. Why did his father suddenly act so cruelly? Why would he persist in tormenting people who only asked for a simple expression of forgiveness?

The son dared to ask. His father explained. "Do you really think I don't want to forgive these poor Jews before the High Holy days? If it were only in my power to do so, don't you know that I would have forgiven them when they stood before me at the railroad station? Of course I, Rabbi Kagan, forgive them for what they did to me. When they learned who I was, they were mortified and filled with shame for what they had done. But the man they beat up was the one they presumed to be a simple, unassuming poor person with no crowd of well-wishers waiting to greet him. He was the victim and only he is the one capable of granting them forgiveness. Let them go find that person. I am incapable of releasing them from their guilt."

Upon completing the story, the rabbi turned to the executive who suggested that it was time for us to move on after the Holocaust and to forgive and forget. "I would be more than happy to do so if I only could. But I was not the one who was sealed in the gas chambers to die a horrible death. I didn't have my child pulled from my breast and shot it in front of my eyes. I was not among the tortured, the beaten, the whipped, and the murdered. It is they and they alone who can offer forgiveness. Go and find those 6 million and ask them if they are prepared to forgive and forget."

A decade after 9/11 there are those who raise the question: Should we forgive those who murdered the thousands of innocents?

Perhaps the most appropriate response is simply this: We are not the ones who have the right to make that decision. Though 10 years have passed, we may not forgive and we dare not forget.

This article can also be read at:
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« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2011, 07:51:42 AM »

Second post of the morning:  Another thoughtful piece from internet friend Ed Rothstein:

This review of a 9/11 exhibition in NY expands on one of the themes I touched on last week.




Exhibition Review
Recapturing the Spirit of a City as It Reeled From Its Wounds

Fred R.Conrad/The New York Times

An exhibition at the New-York Historical Society displays photos and relics from the terrorist attacks.

Published: September 7, 2011
·         Outdone by Reality(September 1, 2011)
·         9/11 Books Released Into a Sea of Others(September 6, 2011)
·         Critic’s Notebook: Amid the Memorials, Ambiguity and Ambivalence(September 3, 2011)
Enlarge This Image

Fred R.Conrad/The New York Times
The exhibition includes children's letters and tributes.


After 10 years the devil is still in the details. And we see them, again and again, in the modest exhibition opening at the New-York Historical Society on Thursday, “Remembering 9/11.”

The images still have the feel of raw scars: the gashed towers spewing smoke; the layers of pale, powdery dust from metal, paper and flesh covering a rack of abandoned bicycles; exhausted firefighters and police officers tempering their own terror to rescue others; eyes of onlookers peering up, hands over mouths, shocked at seeing things still thought too horrifying to show; the deserted Holland Tunnel; piles of ruined fire hydrants; a forensic specialist’s test tube showing a single tooth.

And we see images of the shrines that seemed to spring up in any public space of the city, with candles, poems, photographs, pleas: “Missing Person,” “Please Call,” “Have you seen my Daddy?”

“Missing,” one sign announces, “Two handsome twins”: the illustration shows a ghostly image of the two towers.

The exhibition’s curator, Marilyn Satin Kushner, explained in an interview that, apart from incorporating images from Washington and from Shanksville, Penn., these 135 photographs were randomly selected from the 6,500 that were gathered in the months after the attacks and displayed in two small SoHo storefronts in what was almost an impromptu commemoration called “Here Is New York: A Democracy of Photographs.” Solicited and unsolicited, unsigned, undated and unidentified, roughly rendered on inkjet printers, these accumulated images from the life of a city, which are now part of the society’s collection, still have a powerful effect. They seem to overlay one another in the mind, each one added to a ghostly memory of another, imprints of shocking and immediate experience. The original collection also included first-person video recollections, five of which are sampled here in audio form.

A wider selection of images will also be shown in a free exhibition in the lobby of 195 Broadway, at Fulton Street, near the ground zero site, from Saturday to 18. Some will be permanently mounted in a new gallery of the historical society when its building fully opens on Nov. 11, after its extensive renovation and redesign. For now this exhibition, free to the public, is in a small rotunda entry space and a long cramped hallway.

Four years ago, when the New-York Historical Society gave a more complete showing of these photographs, they seemed to suggest that Sept. 11 was still something to be remembered rather than interpreted, still an event that could only be invoked as a series of traumatic memories, not as a historical event to be understood and put into context.

Surprisingly, not much has changed for the 10th anniversary, either here or in many other planned events this week. The private details of grief still overwhelm any sense of public meaning, which is peculiar given the scale of the event and its consequences.

But those private details are still powerful in themselves. With great savvy, soon after the attacks, Kenneth T. Jackson, then president of the society, set a goal of collecting material associated with Sept. 11. So this exhibition supplements the photographs with objects saved from makeshift shrines, some of the poems and posters still covered with drops of wax from memorial candles. Also shown here are children’s letters and drawings donated by fire and police departments, expressions of touching directness and sincerity sent to New York from all over the country and from foreign lands as well.

The exhibition includes a selection of the “Portraits of Grief” pages published in The New York Times in the months after Sept. 11; every day the paper offered brief, pungent evocations of individual lives lost. Thirty four reproduced pages are mounted as two video screens slowly scroll through the complete collection of these portraits. Again details tell, sketching the fireman who loved to teach children about safety (Raymond R. York); the Indian software designer on a three-month project in New York (Shreyas Ranganath); the accounting manager who had a year earlier graduated from Queens College night school while working two jobs (Del-Rose Cheatham); the insurance broker who, from the time he was 13, had dreamed of moving to New York from Williamsburg, Va. (Rick Blood). We read of scheduled marriages and celebrations never to take place, of fervent passions cut off, of conversations unfinished. The deaths are seen as tears in the life fabric, all threads suddenly and brutally ripped apart.

The overall impact of all this material is powerful. But it is strange that even after a decade, the scope of remembrance does not extend to more extensive interpretation. This exhibition is not alone; this anniversary is widely marked by ambiguity, uncertainty and guilt.

What in this exhibition would be different if these thousands of dead had been wiped out in a tsunami like the one that hit Japan earlier this year? What, in these images, objects and stories would be any different if there had been an earthquake that had simply consumed the twin towers in its maw? Where is the sense that this was not an act of God but an act of man? And that it was an attack, not simply a calamity? Even the sketches for the National September 11 Memorial by its architect, Michael Arad, some of which are also shown here, are meditative, abstract, focusing on the gaps left by destruction.

We only see a few hints that it was anything other than an act of God: one photograph shows a banner warning about domestic brutality against American Muslims (which never took place beyond isolated and quickly condemned incidents); another shows a hasty protest against any possibility of a counterattack. “Our Grief Is Not a Cry for War” is the sign three protestors hold up, a reaction that would have been unimaginable as a response to attack in the parts of the world that cheered for the terrorists afterward.

From the very start, as such images suggest, there was a kind of anticipatory retreat from the implications of the attack, an impulse now amplified by judgments of missteps made over the past decade.

Is this vagueness something Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is aiming at as well in his decision not to invite first responders and members of the clergy to join him at the Sept. 11 commemoration this Sunday while inviting victims’ family members? This eliminates two groups that clearly gave Sept. 11 a broader public meaning. Listen, in the exhibition, to the account of an encounter with a priest described by a survivor, Joanne Capestro, who tells of barely making it out of one of the towers. Emerging, she sees piles of bodies of those who jumped spread over the ground before her; as the tower collapses, she dives under a nearby car, where a priest comforts her.

But the ceremonial emphasis on family members is in keeping with the almost private sensations of this exhibition as well. We recollect Sept. 11, it seems, as an accumulation of personal griefs; nothing larger has been defined. There is almost a decision to avoid, to turn the head, to give just passing acknowledgment to religious sentiments offering compassion and comfort (look at all the wax drippings from votive candles) and to overlook completely the religious hatred that lay behind the attacks (which is invisible here, and which, one ventures to guess, will be largely absent on Sunday). Is there a fear of somehow seeming too crude by naming what should be named?

Just after Sept. 11, it seemed that the enormity of the experience was going to undermine the doctrines of postmodern relativism that typically affirmed that no particular judgment has any essential priority over any other, and bring to an end too the almost reflexive analyses that consistently cast the West as the world’s unambiguous villain. But is it possible that these impulses have just metastasized and that, given strength by events of the last decade, they prevent us from daring to commemorate and comprehend rather than simply remember?

“Remembering 9/11” runs through April 1 at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, at 77th Street; (212) 873-3400 or “Here Is New York @ 195 Broadway” runs from Saturday through Sept. 18 at 195 Broadway, at Fulton Street, Lower Manhattan;

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« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2011, 11:28:34 AM »

U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham and Defense and Air Attache Colonel Richard Burgess took part in the dedication ceremony for a JNF-sponsored September 11 monument and Living Memorial at the entrance to Jerusalem (in the surrounding forest) on Thursday, November 12, 2009. The event drew a crowd of 150-200 participants, including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

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« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2011, 05:56:19 PM »

Full 9/11 anniversary coverage

F-16 pilot was ready to give her life on Sept. 11

Video: The Washington Post's Anqoinette Crosby talks with reporter Steve Hendrix about one of the first fighter pilots to scramble after the attacks of Sept. 11. With no ordnance on board her jet, she was faced with the possibility of ramming her plane into one of the hijacked passenger jets.
By Steve Hendrix,

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.

 “We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”

For years, Penney, one of the first generation of female combat pilots in the country, gave no interviews about her experiences on Sept. 11 (which included, eventually, escorting Air Force One back into Washington’s suddenly highly restricted airspace).

But 10 years later, she is reflecting on one of the lesser-told tales of that endlessly examined morning: how the first counterpunch the U.S. military prepared to throw at the attackers was effectively a suicide mission.

“We had to protect the airspace any way we could,” she said last week in her office at Lockheed Martin, where she is a director in the F-35 program.

Penney, now a major but still a petite blonde with a Colgate grin, is no longer a combat flier. She flew two tours in Iraq and she serves as a part-time National Guard pilot, mostly hauling VIPs around in a military Gulfstream. She takes the stick of her own vintage 1941 Taylorcraft tail-dragger whenever she can.

But none of her thousands of hours in the air quite compare with the urgent rush of launching on what was supposed to be a one-way flight to a midair collision.

 First of her kind

She was a rookie in the autumn of 2001, the first female F-16 pilot they’d ever had at the 121st Fighter Squadron of the D.C. Air National Guard. She had grown up smelling jet fuel. Her father flew jets in Vietnam and still races them. Penney got her pilot’s licence when she was a literature major at Purdue. She planned to be a teacher. But during a graduate program in American studies, Congress opened up combat aviation to women and Penney was nearly first in line.

“I signed up immediately,” she says. “I wanted to be a fighter pilot like my dad.”

On that Tuesday, they had just finished two weeks of air combat training in Nevada. They were sitting around a briefing table when someone looked in to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. When it happened once, they assumed it was some yahoo in a Cesna. When it happened again, they knew it was war.

But the surprise was complete. In the monumental confusion of those first hours, it was impossible to get clear orders. Nothing was ready. The jets were still equipped with dummy bullets from the training mission.

Read it all.
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« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2011, 08:10:35 AM »

Evil savages.
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« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2011, 09:38:38 AM »

• September 10, 2004 | 11:22 PM ET


September 11, 2001 wasn't the beginning of this war.  In fact, fundamentalist Islamists had been making war on the United States for years, with the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, the attacks on our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 (which was intended to topple both towers, but failed), all the way back, in some sense, to the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran back when Jimmy Carter was president.  For all those years, they were at war with us, but we largely ignored it.

But September 11, 2001 was when we woke up, and realized what was going on.  When people talk about the 1,000th casualty in Iraq, it's worth remembering that we had 3,000 casualties in a single day, in America, and that terrorists want to do much, much worse.

It's a war.  Reasonable people can argue about how to go about waging it.  But -- as someone who thinks that when you're at war, the war is the thing that matters most --  what bothers me about John Kerry is that he doesn't really seem to think we're at war at all.  He's said a lot more about his four months waging war in Vietnam than he's said about how he'd spend four years waging war with people who want nothing more than to kill Americans in large numbers.  That's my big problem with Kerry, and judging by the polls it's a problem that a lot of other people have, too.

Whenever people point this out, the Kerry campaign charges them with "politicizing" 9/11.  I don't think so.  I think it's a matter of priorities, not politicization.  But if that's what it is, so be it.  Better to politicize it, than to ignore it, or forget it.  Or, as some people even want us to, lose it.

Here's what Lee Harris wrote, in his book Civilization And Its Enemies:

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.
They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary.  An enemy was just a friend we hadn't done enough for -- yet.  Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part -- something that we could correct.  And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason -- it is his reason, and not ours.

Too many people have forgotten that.  Or worse, they've decided that the real enemy is George W. Bush, even to the point of desecrating 9/11 memorials with anti-Bush slogans.
Watch this memorial and see if you think that's the right response.
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« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2011, 10:09:14 PM »


September 11, 2011, 8:41 am

The Years of Shame
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.
In a similar vein, a friend relates:

I drove down to Clemson University  for a soccer match today. I had about 8 hours in the car and a lot of time for listening to the fare on satellite radio.

Astoundingly, on this of all days, the focus of the left on Serius Left, was the Truther movement. Not the victims, not the heroes- but the friggin conspiracy that we brought the attack on ourselves on purpose to benefit the war machine.

The horrible little people are abundant.

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« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2011, 11:28:45 PM »

Troofer-ism is a toxic mix of America-hatred, stupidity and cowardice.

It's the pathetic sort of America-hatred akin to the spoiled teen that says his dad is like Hitler because he has to mow the lawn. The pathetic America-haters will spend endless hours proclaiming how evil this country is, yet live with the freedoms and protections this country offers and never lift a finger to live in a "better" place.

It's much more comfortable for the cowardly to create a fantasy world where a small group can pull some strings and rule the world rather than face the ugly reality of how dangerous and uncontrollable the world is. Especially when faced with the fact that we are in a war for the future of human freedom with monsterous savages that are immersed in a evil death cult that requires they feed it blood and bodies and crush those who will not kneel before it. It's a scary thought, and so it's much more comfortable to imagine that it's the eeeeeevil US gov't that is so scary, that they refuse to flee it for safer shores.

Funny how that works.
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« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2011, 11:54:36 PM »

109 minutes revisited

A cockpit voice recorder revealed this week that the passengers where engaged in a fight with the terrorists when the jetliner plunged into a field in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11.

It is additional evidence that the passengers foiled terrorist efforts to claim another target on the day that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were targets of an attack.


By Brad Todd

Guest column

(Sept. 16, 2001)

It's been, of course, impossible to get past IT.

Even in a country with the attention span of a gnat, we're all still glued to the tube. The 24-hour news channels have heretofore proven they can make anything boring in short order, but this one drips with emotion so thick even they can't wring it dry.

Yep. We're as stuck on it as we were Tuesday morning.

Grocery store checkout banter is still single-subject. I understand it's the only topic at the manicurist's shop, too.I think even children sense how big IT is. The ones who walk by my front door don't have their normal sing-song cadence. There's no screeching. No laughter. They know something's not right.

What is IT?

Something besides the grief, I think -- although the grief is tormenting.

Something deeper than the shock -- although the shock is overwhelming.

No, I think it's the gut-level fear that for the first time in my generation, we were whipped.

Whipped by our own complacency. Our own comfort. Our own insistence on putting convenience ahead of precaution. Our own arrogance that let us forget that the world is a dangerous place.

And the outcropping of that fear is an angst about the new order. How long before we're not behind again? How much time must we spend off the top of the world? Out of control of our own lives?

This, of course, is the angst that people in most of the rest of the world feel every day. And if we look deep inside, we can probably acknowledge that for all our egalitarian pontifications, this is not the kind of equality and fraternal kinship in which we really believe.

I finally admitted this fear to myself three days after the attack. I wasn't particularly proud of it. It seemed like a shallow thing to fret over when such real suffering was all around me -- my house sits just three miles from the Pentagon, after all.

But there it was.

And the aftertaste of the bitter pill of my character flaw was the sad realization that such angst was Osama's primary objective. Buildings and airplanes and, yes, even 6,000 lives, were just the collateral damage. Despite the metaphoric value of last week's bricks and mortar targets, the real core of the Western economy isn't a skyscraper or a government building. It's the can-do swagger of the American worker. And bin Laden's soldiers cut deep into that swagger.

So he won.

Or did he?

I thought so ... until Friday night.

Friday night I watched a Jane Pauley interview with the family of Jeremy Glick. Jeremy Glick was a 31-year-old who flew as a passenger on commercial airplanes for a living. I describe him that way because right now I'm fairly convinced I'm just a 31 year old who flies planes as a passenger for a living...the other parts of my job having become less noticeable this week.

As the interview unfolded, I realized something I didn't know before: Jeremy Glick and the people on United Flight 93, bound from Newark to San Francisco, knew what was happening on the ground.

At 8:48 a.m. Mohammed Atta took a jet headlong into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Eighteen minutes later and accomplice did the same to the south tower.

When Jeremy Glick called his wife, his first question was an attempt to confirm something another passenger had heard on his spousal call: was the World Trade Center story true?

Lizzy Glick paused, thought for a minute, swallowed hard, and told him the truth. Yes, they had. Moments later, still on the line with her husband, Lizzy Glick saw that another plane had run into the Pentagon. She passed that information on as well to her husband, who relayed it to the other passengers.

Jeremy Glick then told her that the passengers were about to take a vote and decide if they should rush the hijackers and attempt to foul up whatever evil plans they had.

He put down the phone and a commotion was heard by those on the other end of the line. Then nothing. A dead line. An aborted missile launch against the town where I live.

That was 10:37 a.m. on Tuesday, September 11... just 109 minutes after Mohammed Atta rammed the first plane into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Just 109 minutes after a new form of terrorism -- the most deadly yet invented -- came into use, it was rendered, if not obsolete, at least decidedly less effective.

Deconstructed, unengineered, thwarted, and put into the dust bin of history. By Americans. In 109 minutes.

And in retrospect, they did it in the most American of ways. They used a credit card to rent a fancy cell phone to get information just minutes old, courtesy of the ubiquitous 24-hour news phenomenon. Then they took a vote. When the vote called for sacrifice to protect country and others, there apparently wasn't a shortage of volunteers. Their action was swift. It was decisive. And it was effective.

United Flight 93 did not hit a building. It did not kill anyone on the ground. It did not terrorize a city, despite the best drawn plans of the world's most innovative madmen. Why? Because it had informed Americans on board who'd had 109 minutes to come up with a counteraction.

And the next time a hijacker full of hate pulls the same stunt with a single knife, he'll get the same treatment and meet the same result as those on United Flight 93. Dead, yes. Murderous, yes. But successful? No.

So I think the answer I come to is "yes, but at least not for long."

They did whip us. And maybe those of us who've demanded to be let on airplanes at the last minute fed a culture of convenience that made it possible.

But they only had us on the mat for 109 minutes.

Brad Todd is a political consultant who lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
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« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2011, 07:26:58 AM »


September 11, 2011, 8:41 am

The Years of Shame
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.
In a similar vein, a friend relates:

I drove down to Clemson University  for a soccer match today. I had about 8 hours in the car and a lot of time for listening to the fare on satellite radio.

Astoundingly, on this of all days, the focus of the left on Serius Left, was the Truther movement. Not the victims, not the heroes- but the friggin conspiracy that we brought the attack on ourselves on purpose to benefit the war machine.

The horrible little people are abundant.

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Posts: 7833

« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2011, 02:21:52 PM »

"Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror"

Shows the left's desperation.  Like I said even a person with Down's is cracking up with laughter over their twisted logic.

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Posts: 42494

« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2011, 12:02:49 PM »
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Posts: 42494

« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2011, 12:05:54 AM »
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