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The shock took place on 9-11-2001. The WTF-just-happened kind of shock. The horrible spectacle of it all shock. The chaos. The shock of mass murder. That's what 9-11 was all about. The shock of it all. 9-11 will always be commemorated, and rightly so to a certain extent, for the sake of victims and victims families, the bravery displayed by many, and how we came together as a nation on 9-11. However, what happened to all of us on 9-11-2001 was a case of collective shock.
As much as the idea of collectivism is despised by many on the right, I think everyone would agree that what we felt on 9-11 was collective shock. We were united in that feeling immediately after the planes struck. One nation, one people, indivisible.
It's what began on 9-12....after the shock sank in....that we must always remember. Following the shock of the Bin Laden extremists on 9-11 came what comes naturally to mankind....revenge. We can call it justice, and often do...but we know we're kidding ourselves. We wanted revenge. I wanted revenge.
9-12 began our national journey to avenge the spectacular injustices done to us by 19 middle eastern radicals. W. told us, and I cheered his incompetent ass at the time, that "the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from ALL of us soon." You're goddamn right, I thought, and said, at the time. I wanted every person remotely involved with the 9-11 crime...dead. No trials, no nothing....kill'em....every goddamn one of them.
And I know, at the time, I was not the Lone Ranger. Our plan to attack in Afghanistan and, allegedly, go after Bin Laden's Boyz, was supported by over 90% of the American people.
I wanted all of Bin Laden's Boyz, and their related families.....dead. That was the only sacrificial offering I, and 90% of Americans, could accept. No middle eastern religious psychopath and his cloned suiciders were going to get the f*ck away with what they had done. Confidently, I believed, yes, our leaders are going to kill every miserable bastard involved in this spectacle.....and by god, it wasn't just from our military that the scoundrels were going to hear. When our military would go about blowing the heads off of each and every one involved....WE were going to be speaking, collectively. They were going to be hearing from ALL of us soon.....and with extreme prejudice.
That's the feeling of 9-12. After the shock....came the rage. People would pay for what happened, so help us god. And it is that unity in vengeance.....a natural desire for revenge ....which was exploited, perverted, twisted and, eventually, the unity destroyed by U.S. leaders who used the political horsepower generated by our national desire for revenge to fuel the political and private agendas and ambitions of only a few.
Two months after 9-12, with Bin Laden and his main gangsters still alive and well, General Tommy Franks was ordered to start moving assets closer to Iraq. Apparently, our revenge would have to wait. It is at this same time period when the first evidence of extraordinary rendition and torture surfaced. By spring of 2002, America began waterboarding. Guantanomo opened for business. We were still a year away from Abu Ghraib. But Bin Laden's gang was still not dead.
Then came the most politically surrealistic series of months in my lifetime. The executive leadership in America spent almost an entire year fabricating a case, publicly, to attack Iraq....a nation who had nothing to do with avenging Americans collectively for 9-11. What followed were years of Iraqi chaos, thousands of needless U.S. military deaths, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths,.....and an America no longer united as one.
What happened instead was increased political polarization within the U.S. population. The energy contained within our still unresolved longings for revenge was slowly redirected towards each other. We were either "for us, or for the terrorists". The patriotism of former war heroes was challenged and mocked. White House swagger turned into political gamesmanship with Mr. Karl Rove more than willing and able to divide Americans by re-channeling all that pentup revenge from 9-11.....towards political opponents.
Our unity of purpose after 9-11....revenge for the evil deeds done to us as a nation....dissipated into the fog of the same old stuff....dividing the American population for political purposes. Meanwhile, Bin Laden's gang was still alive and kicking.
Bin Laden is dead now, but so is our unity. And that's the lesson of 9-11 that should never be forgotten.
American citizens should never trust political leaders again with their emotions, whether those emotions are filled with hope...or vengeance. Our collective emotions will always be exploited and manipulated for political and personal gain. Our political leaders....even when Americans are united as one like we were after 9-11....can't be trusted to do the right thing.
9-12-2001 was the day that a new opportunity presented itself to America. Would we, could we, turn that unity of purpose....to avenge the crimes of 9-11.....into a long lasting positive force, strengthening and reinvigorating us here at home as well as reestablishing America's tarnished image as a force for good in the world?
Sadly, the answer was no.
And, THAT'S what our nation should be commemorating every September 12th.