~ On This Sad And Somber Evening Of Our Defeat ~
THIS is not a news cycle. This, is not going to be swept under the rug. And this, is not something that will be forgotten.
And while every day is the best day of my life - TODAY - I have permission to be sad. Very sad.
No man left behind. That’s the United States. But that imperative virtue has been forgotten.
We have fallen. We have fallen in virtue, and in valor. In our values and our beliefs. In our ideals and in our ideas. And we have fallen out with each other - over definitions.
As, laughably, we cannot even agree on the definition of war.
What defines a war?
A rose by any other name is still a rose, right? And a war by any other name is still a war, right?
Well, maybe not so.
And that’s because of politics. The politics of modern American life in 2021.
We just lost the war in Afghanistan. Whether you like it or not - whether you want to hear it or not - whether you want to believe it or not - We just LOST. And sadly, I don't think many people even realize that fact.
In complete and utter and total defeat.
We were chased out of the country.
And we left, running away, with our tails between our legs.
But in this era of our truth, and your truth - THE truth - has been tossed out the window, and clear over the borders of our manifest destiny.
So, right now, there are actual people who don’t even believe we were still at war, for twenty long years, and there are people who think this was a policy win - simply because Twitter told them so.
There will now be people who don’t even know, understand, or believe that there ever was a war. It will be washed away in their newsfeed - never to be seen, or heard from, or scrolled past, again.
But, whether Twitter informs the body politic, or not, I have just witnessed the single biggest foreign policy catastrophe in my entire life, and one of the worst in the entire history of America as a reigning superpower on the face of the planet. The stuff nightmares are made of. A decision and a loss so horrific, and a choice that will have severe and horrific immediate term consequences, as well as dangerous and grotesque repercussions for generations to come. THIS was nothing short of a complete and total dereliction of duty.
High crimes and - much, much more than - misdemeanors.
Impeachable offenses left and right.
Incompetence on every level - well not on every level. Our actual troops are competent in their service and not my target of analysis here in this column. It’s our so-called ‘leaders’ whose incompetence is reprehensible.
Who will resign?
Who will be fired?
Who will be court martialed?
Who will be tried for treason?
I didn’t think so.
So - Who are we? Who were we? Who are we going to be?
Are we an Empire? Or, are we a Republic?
Do our leaders rule over us without any assurances of accountability, checks, and balances? Rulers that do not even answer questions on the disaster of their own making? Or, are we still a Republic? Where our leaders are not leaders - but are our entrusted representatives - representative of us - and are held to account for each decision they make on our behalf? Because we can’t have it both ways. And we can’t not know the answer to that question either. And I believe the lack of a solid answer - to who we are - as a national identity, is a main part of the endless wars we find ourselves in.
Because the politics of war can so very easily lead to endless war.
It’s all so frightening and surreal, it might as well be a piece of fiction. We’re fully engrossed in the part of the story where the evil villian holds all the cards. All hope is lost. And despair is setting in, rapidly.
Flip the pages through a little golden book. Turn straight to the page where the evil villain is at their most powerful.
Remember when Sleeping Beauty was forced toward the spindle prick? All Aurora had to do was to touch the prick of a needle on the spinning wheel - and all her dreams would come true, right?
Maleficent's power over her forced her there, toward that needle. She was in a way - sleepwalking, really. She didn’t even know what she was doing when she touched the needle prick. She was brainwashed at the time? She was put under a spell. She was ‘tempted’ and could not resist the touch. All decisions actually being made by the evil villian.
The great and beautiful and Magnificent - Aurora. With lips as red as the red, red rose.
Controlled by the evil and disgusting and villainous - Maleficent.
But true love conquers all. And eventually, after great battles, and an evil and horrific war against our fire breathing dragon, good does reign once again, and evil is destroyed. Death by sword, and fallen over a cliff to her demise. All the forces of good, against all the forces of evil. What a film, right? What a story. What a book, bound in gold.
What we are being subjected to right now is the part of the story when evil takes over. All hope is near lost.
Despair is setting in.
Faith - lingering quietly - in the background. Hidden to us amongst the smoke and embers and wilting and dripping flowers.
Oh yeah, and by the way. Let’s not forget that we aren’t the only ones bearing witness to all this drama unfold on the big screen. We’ve got China, sitting out there in the cheap seats, eating buttery popcorn and drinking sugary soda, laughing all the way to the bank during this entire, long, action scene. Laughing. Because they already know the sequel.
Wake up - sleeping giant!!!
None of this is fiction, a book, or a film - it’s actually happening before our very eyes.
And, you see, none of this happened overnight. In fact, sixteen long years went by in Aurora's case. Twenty - in ours. Wth evil plotting and patiently waiting behind the scenes. Under cover. Manipulation. Patience.
But after all that time, and all that waiting, and hard work, and prevention, Sleeping Beauty still touched the needle prick. Within the time it takes to snap a finger. When the time came, it was as if the past many years of work and prevention were thrown out the window. It didn’t matter. None of it did. It was going to happen all along. And Maleficent knew it. She held the power. She held the keys. And she got exactly what she wanted. Because she simply had the patience - to wait.
To bide her time.
And to continue spinning her web while doing so.
She held on through the politics of the time. In fact, she manipulated the politics for sixteen years. And she rode it straight on into battle.
And all in an instant. In the closure, and departure, and desertion of Bagram. In the announcement of our departure. In just the slightest touch of a finger to a spinning wheel. Good was trapped by evil. And once that happens, there is no going back. There is only war to break free from such power. Evil must be destroyed to win. Evil must be killed.
And it is that delicate and sensitive spot we find ourselves in right now. The politics of war. The patience the Taliban had to wait us out. We are, quite sadly, on the opposite side we should be right now. Evil is triumphing over good.
So, sadly, we now find ourselves at a desperate crossroads.
It is time, my dear friends, to pray for our great and sacred nation.
Our president said we will not forgive.
Without forgiveness we are finished. We are not America anymore. I knew it was coming. As I’ve spoken about forgiveness many times before. But when our nation’s leaders speak directly to our evil enemy, and tells the world we will not forgive. We are not America anymore.
As America falls, the Devil rises. Yes, the devil himself has now entered the scene of our great and momentous battle. Hell hath no fury, like that of a 140 character tweet. Or press conference.
And so we find ourselves discombobulated. Confused. Demoralized. Defeated. And begging our enemy for safe passage. WHAT?! Beg?! America does not BEG!
And clearly the begging did not work. And it will not work. As surely as our flag stands at half-staff today, our loss here is so very, very real.
And as sure as day turns to night - we really did leave our fellow man behind. We said we will hunt them down. At the same time we asked for their help in our exit. At the exact same time telling that very same enemy we will not ever forgive them. So many sacred vows. So much allegiance. All shattered.
Virtually, and literally, overnight.
The prick of a needle.
The last troop boarding a C 17 transport plane.
We are defeated.
Celebratory gunshots reign towards the Heavens... by the Taliban.
But we are still in an endless war. Because nothing is really over here. It’s only just beginning - once yet again.
Our endless war is directly tied to the politics of war. It’s all cyclical. And it’s all repeatable. Like a hamster spinning on a wheel producing great force of spin - but getting nowhere at the same time. Over and over and over again. Because the hamster's wheel doesn’t have an end point. He may think he’s running for the exit. Some sharp point or clear destination. Or that he will eventually get somewhere - anywhere - at some point, in an unknown future. But he never does. It’s maddening to watch the hamster be so utterly humiliated. But at the same time, the hamster has absolutely zero idea he is being humiliated in his repetitious actions.
After twenty years of spin, it’s simply and utterly maddening!
Throughout nearly my entire life - We have been in some sort of war. The Cold War. The Gulf War. All the ‘smaller’ wars and battles, that have all since been forgotten. And now, the long and endless War on Terror.
Ohhh, this war is so very long and drawn out that it has had to go through name changes quite a few times over the years. Maybe it was simply a marketing major, who, in the gig of a lifetime, was able to market and sell the idea and ideals of this endless war to a nearly handful of U.S. presidents. With great success might I add. As, in fact, the marketing changed as fast as the political winds changed.
So as the war itself changed... As the times changed... So did the war - and the very definition of war. But it’s still the same war. It’s still of course the initial War on Terror.
We went to war twenty years ago to stop terrorism from landing on our shores again. We went into Afghanistan, attempting to defeat our enemy, who harbored our evil villain inside Maleficent's castle - and then we stayed, and stayed, and stayed. And then we went into Iraq, to defeat another enemy, and there we stayed, and stayed. We stayed - until people forgot we were even still there. And most importantly, we stayed well beyond the time most people forgot WHY we were there to begin with. And thus, bringing us back to the definition of things once again. And marketing. And the politics of war. When we cannot even define our reasoning behind certain actions - we are doomed. And that’s exactly what happened here. And exactly why we just lost it all.
Twenty years ago, as planes flying in the sky helped change the world. Twenty years later, planes helped change the world once again.
Because naturally, history is doomed to be repeated?
Yes, we have been at war in Afghanistan nearly my entire adult life. I am blown away by this fact, even though I’ve known it all along. In that time we have seen bombings, raids, deaths, alliances, enemies. Beatings, kidnappings, ransoms, and beheadings. Leaders come, and leaders go. Resignations, and new leadership. Elections, and new leadership. Schools built. Hospitals established. Bagram Air Base.
Declines in violence. And with that decline - a decrease in troop levels.
Bloodshed. And with that - troop surges.
And politics. Lots and lots of politics.
The politics of war.
And sadness. Utter and complete sadness.
The heartbreaking imagery regarding the current catastrophe playing out in Afghanistan is nearly too much to handle. It is a gut punch. It is a tragedy on every level. It is shocking. But also, not shocking at all.
Almost anyone with a brain inside their head who knew, or even had an inkling, and understood how ISIS and the Taliban and terrorists and religious extremists operate, could predict such a scenario would happen upon our exit from the region.
And actually, I am reminded, by myself, that when the second plane hit the second tower - signifying that fateful day what this all actually was, in real time, defining the act of terror we were witnessing unfold, the very next thought that floated inside of my brain were the words: Osama Bin Laden.
And now - an anniversary twenty years in the making.
A political deadline, of getting out by the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, dreamed up by Al Qaeda, means we already lost. The moment we created that fictitious deadline. As fictional as our fantasy land and storybooks bound with gold. We have given our enemies all that they needed to win the war. They patiently waited twenty years for us to leave, and we did just that. Because wars aren’t won on deadline. Wars are lost on deadline. Wars are not won with end dates. Wars are lost with end dates. Wars are not won by simply making the enemy wait until we leave. Wars are lost while our enemy sits there - patiently - twiddling their thumbs, as we argue and yell and scream and protest and riot and vandalize, all amongst ourselves mind you, over choice in wording and definitions, as we make our slow exit out. Hoping they just won’t even notice that we’ve just cut and run.
Wars are only ended by the destruction of our enemy.
And wars are certainly not won by giving our enemy the keys to the kingdom.
And that’s just what we just did.
We exited the scene of the crime.
We flew away.
And left the keys to Bagram right under the doormat.
We Lost. Period.
We also left behind, completely irresponsibly and incompetently, billions of dollars worth of military technology and weaponry. And thousands of innocent lives. All of which - will certainly be used against us in the future.
And in a great and deep mystery of life, that may forever haunt brains and cause some to question their fellow man - For a people so disgusted with guns and what they stand for, the hypocrisy here, is laughable. Our enemy now has more guns and ammunition - of ours - that we built and paid for, in their very bloody hands, right freaking now. More guns and ammo than this group of people can even comprehend. Is there any wonder why another group of people is fighting for their rights as Americans to keep and bear arms against all enemies - foreign and domestic.
None of this disgust here is to discount the heroism of the thousands of U.S. military forces who fought and sacrificed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Troops and veterans who risked their lives and the many who lost their lives this entire war, and the thirteen who perished just now in ISIS’s latest attack at the Kabul Airport. The focus of my disgust here is about the politics of this war - the politics playing out behind the scenes. The politics we will never, ever hear about. The politics, so secret, so truly evil, and treasonous, it will most certainly never see the light of day. We may never know the full story, during our lifetimes, as to how this decision to close, excuse me - abandon - Bagram, and, in turn, to allow the worst prisoners on planet Earth to walk free, and cut and run from the global War on Terror, came about.
And if I’m being just a tad pessimistic here, please know that it is indeed intentional.
After twenty years of war, it’s only natural to become pessimistic about our chances, about our standing in the world, and our lasting legacy as well. It’s only natural to think negatively. It’s only natural to feel we have no chance to recover from this. To see this defeat for exactly what it really is. The utter disgust over the fact that we lost the peace - is heartbreaking. WE. We did this. WE let this happen.
And I argue, that is for one reason, and one reason only.
Because, you see, I believe America - is no longer - America. I believe American freedom and ideals of our Republic have been destroyed within these actions. The ones taking place outside of public view, and the actions behind the scenes in the imaginary boardroom I will never lie eyes upon. America is gone. And Big Brother is in control. Politics won. The bureaucracy won. And what makes this all even sadder is the fact that it did not have to be this way.
The thing is, you see, we did have a chance. We did stand a chance. We did have a path forward. And we did have a possibility of winning… because we WERE winning. We were winning all the way up until we announced our departure. The announcement of our departure is the trigger. The abandonment of Bagram is the needle prick. So simple. And oh so very innocent, right? The thirteen dead Marines are the drop of blood spilled. And just like that - we have submitted to the enemy - and we are under their control. They hold thy very keys to the kingdom now.
It really was all that quick, and all that simple. And that’s simply because after twenty long years of war, our enemy never lost hope. Our enemy never became pessimistic about their chances. Our enemy simply waited patiently, on baited breath. To hear of our departure. And waved and laughed their wicked goodbyes at us as we left in defeat.
As we became more and more enraged with one another, our enemy grew closer and stronger… feeding off our rage.
Our enemy remained steadfast and true to the core of their beliefs. All our enemy had to do was merely wait us out. Knowing we would leave. Knowing we would eventually cut and run. Because our enemy knows our politics better than we know ourselves.
I, of course, don’t have any answers here. Only my thoughts, and ponderings, and more questions than ever answers. I have no idea if it simply was not time to leave just yet, or if we more than overstayed our welcome? Were we keeping the peace there? We were holding down the fort, yes? We were the guardians of the kingdom? I do know we had so very many relying upon us. And we ultimately betrayed thousands who were left defenseless as we broke tear-inducing promises and made one nonsensical decision after the next. Falling like a house of cards, in one breath.
Twenty years of sacrifice down the drain. Twenty years of hard work, sweat, blood, tears, loss, sacrifice. Trauma. Suffering. Depression. Grief. Prayers. Mourning. And twenty years of helping build a democracy. A new republic. All vanished. Into a silent and isolated new world.
An isolated new world, with a radically extreme leadership, proudly bearing ownership of their own Twitter account. They? Are allowed a Twitter account? A terrorist organization. But some American citizens are not? Is there any real wonder why we lost - still? Ahhhhh…. the irony here on full display for the world to see. But the world does not see and the world cannot see. Because what they need to see is censored on that same pathetic platform.
Oh, how poetically ironic it all is...
So now come the bombings, the beatings, and the beheadings once again. Only now, unlike twenty years ago, they can be quite easily censored. With the key stroke of an algorithm - We won’t see it all. And especially not on the front page of the newspapers printed on paper. Oh - So unlike twenty years ago. May God help us all.
The terrorists have won.
There’s a reason we don’t negotiate with terrorists. Because as soon as you negotiate with a terrorist, the terrorist immediately wins. A conversation with a terrorist is a victory for a terrorist. Period.
I think an optimist could envision us leaving Afghanistan in peace. But, that’s literally just a thought. I think what really happened here is that a political operative sold a story to a leader... of backdrops with victory emblazoned in the background. And a political fool took the bait. And we switched from our winning stance over there these past years, to being the bait and hooked onto the line. We’re either a fish too stupid to know there’s a sharp hook hidden within the bait, or a beautiful and great Princess with red rosey lips, simply under the spell of evil temptation - Politics.
Way back in the day, when I was a political science major in college, I remember all too well being taught the phrase - All Politics Is Local. Well, maybe the sad and real truth is that: All War is Deception (?)
Maybe nothing good actually comes of politics? Because politics breeds bureaucracy, and bureaucracy breeds endless war. ‘1984’ - in real life.
As the date of September 11th in the year 2021 grows closer - the politics of war lined up each day in the queue. As twenty long years went by. Imagery and statistics and dates and anniversaries were all aligned to be celebrated. And just as the fish cannot resist the temptation of the worm and takes a bite, the politics of war was too tempting for the leaders of our free world to resist.
So now we bear a huge responsibility. In our defeat. To all the lives upended in our departure. To all the Afghans we left behind. All the American’s left to be killed. All of our allies that we quite beautifully betrayed.
Because just as terrorists changed our lives twenty years ago. We have now, in our ultimate betrayal, to ourselves, changed the course of our own lives. And of countless Afghans and the American’s and allies left in the dust of our tires skidding as we sped on out of town.
No one knows what the future will bring. No one could possibly know.
But I know one thing. There is some political operative, trying, right now, sitting in a back room, somewhere hidden from view of the world, seated around a conference table, selling their idea of the next great war… to yet another great political ‘leader’ - Selling the idea of the poetically beautiful politics of said war.
And as history does repeat itself, the political leader will take the bait.
And bombs will burst.
And troops will be deployed.
And each day as we arise, we will witness headlines about surges, and about casualties. As more heroic Americans perish in our name.
And yellow ribbons will be tied ‘round the old oak tree.
And war bonds will be sold - merely under a different, and more modern name - infrastructure. And the money will be printed. And political deals will be penned. And people will get very, very rich. And drunk on their new found power.
And China will make its next move. This time - a big one.
And it will all be too late to turn back. Because once the fish is on the line - he is indeed trapped. Until he is eaten, that is.
What beliefs will be passionately put on display to sell such an idea?
Maybe it will be the planes.
The air planes that changed the world.
Maybe these planes will be the marketing strategy. The strategy we will never set eyes upon ourselves. The political operative will of course burn and censor the strategery behind it all after they make their case to our dear leaders.
But maybe it will all be sold on the planes.
Because twenty years ago, planes flying through the sky changed the world in a flash.
And twenty years later, planes did the exact same thing.
Twenty years ago, our very own planes were the literal weapon. Twenty years later, our literal planes were literally the only way out.
Twenty years ago, people fell from the sky to their death. Some, falling and perishing to their death, not by their choice. And sadly, some, choosing that death of the fall, over burning up in the fire of hell breathing flames throughout the towers.
Twenty years later, still, the sight of more falling to their deaths. As some clung to the side of a C 17 transport plane out of mere desperation to escape the fiery hell that awaited them under Taliban rule.
They chose death by falling to Earth… due to an American plane… once again. In a different way, a rhyme of history, not a repeat. That they'd choose this death over the death of the fiery hell awaiting them by the hands of this newly empowered radical regime.
Yes - Maybe history doesn’t really repeat itself. Maybe Mark Twain got it right after all. That while history doesn’t repeat itself - it so very often rhymes? The poetic irony of our ultimate defeat.
Planes used to start a war.
Planes used to end a war.
Afghans clinging to planes, begging for help that was not coming.
Planes used for a terrorist victory. Planes used for an American loss.
The Taliban all the while shooting victory bullets into the sky, as we flew the last of our birds away. And lifted off from their newly decreed soil. Their very own manifest destiny. Realized before our very eyes.
But destinies realized or not, my dear friends, global war is coming. As sure as day does turn to night. As certain as the very naked and disgusting truth that we left our fellow Americans behind. As certain as that - war is brewing.
How will our planes once again factor into the next war? None of us know that right now. But that one person does.
The one political operative selling the politics of that next disingenuous, and very tempting, war.
The one who just graduated, with that fancy marketing degree - and a minor in speech comm, just for cookies and giggles.
That person knows. They know it all.
They may even be meeting in Room 101, right about now, face to face with the first person who went against them and their almighty vision of our great and noble future.
And whoever they are selling their story to, I know only one thing. The clouds of war are forming. Just as swiftly as the politics of war set the forecast.
So while today still really is the best day of my life - today I also mourn. Today I pray to our Almighty God. Today I weep. For America. And her defeat.
And as evening comes, I pray for our future as a nation. As we crumble and fall apart at our very own feet. As we have, in real life, succumbed to self-destruction. As we are no longer that last great hope on Earth. And as we bow directly to the face of evil. In our very submission - to their destiny realized. And as we touch the needle, and prick a single drop of blood from our finger. And as we fall under a great and powerful, destructive and evil spell. I do pray this very night.~
~~ God Bless America, and God Bless Our Troops. - I never forgot, even though most of the world did. ~~
What do you see... that is still the same today?
What do you see… after nineteen years have flown by?
What do you see… by the dawn's earliest pink light?
What do you see… as we continue our perilous fight?
What do you see… looking down at two holes in the solemn ground?
What do you see… forever searching and maybe still not found?
What do you see… nineteen diligent years later?
What do you see… as you peer into those deep craters?
What do you see… from an airplane’s crash?
What do you see… past all the fire and burned ash?
What do you see… past the smoke and dusty air?
What will you believe… as people begin to not care?
And do you still hear… that valiant band playing through the quiet air?
And will you bear witness… to those fighting still and forever as they must?
As the next round starts... and we have to keep rolling past all the dust.
What do you see… through twilights shining gleam?
What do you see… past all those forces unseen?
What do you see… through those shining bright stars and breathtaking broad stripes?
What do you see… through the horror of all those bombs bursting this very night?
What do you see… through pollution and the reddest of red blood?
What do you see… as free men - and women - stand here in the mud?
What do you see… past Liberty’s smile?
What do you see… from sea to shining sea all those miles?
What do you see… though concealed fighting to be disclosed?
What do you see… as foe’s strike their continual battle blows?
Do you see there is proof?
That our flag is still there?
Oh Say Darling Can You See… her most beautiful story?
As she stands here - proud… in all of her glory?
Yes - I do.
I do see it all.
Yes even in war’s havoc and confusion and nineteen years later.
I even see Heaven on Earth and God our Creator.
I see that reflection shine above all and very tall.
I see Angels in the sky… And God in our hearts as we bawl.
I see reflection bounced off millions of broken chains.
Forever more - unconfined.
I see all those who paved our very way.
With their very lives - they all gave.
Yes, I see those next pages of her remarkable story be flipped.
As her bright blazen stays now - and forever - lit.
And, I STILL see the land of the freest of free… and know that this is God’s Country home, of the very, very brave. ~
Every year, on this day, when I wake in the morning and look at the calendar, it's just another day… but then I see my phone screen displaying today’s date to me. The phone tells me that it’s Nine Eleven, and I get a sinking pit of a feeling in my stomach. A feeling of doom and gloom. It feels like in a nightmare when I am falling and there is no end ever to the fall; and then wake up scared to death. But that feeling stays with me all day. It’s a feeling of aching and utter real, raw, sadness. And I feel it every single year, without fail, on September 11.
From that point forward in the morning it becomes a very different day than any other of the calendar year. It becomes a very difficult day for me. A day I push myself forward with an extra amount of force. Force necessary to complete my tasks and go about a normal day of activity.
Saying good morning to my husband. And then our first words to each other this day: ‘It’s Nine Eleven.’
Talking on the phone.
Reading and watching the news.
Going to the library.
Tipping the barista a bit extra today at Starbucks.
Crying as I write this.
Choosing a very happy comedy or adventure-filled film to watch this evening with my husband, and my dog-who didn’t live through that day upon this Earth. Choosing a comedic film to not add any more sadness to my day than necessary.
Saying goodnight to the most solemn and somber day of the year.
On Nine Eleven, 2001, I was at the very beginning of my junior year of college. I abruptly quit the cross country team at the start of that school year, after two years of running NCAA Division III collegiate athletics. I always thought it was a rash decision, but I went with my gut, and my gut feeling does not fail me. I also quit winter and spring track, right then and there as well. Fiercely independent - I had always wanted and craved to run on my own; and this decision allowed me to give more time and focus toward my very expensive college education. My grades were not where I wanted them to be. I only had so much time and energy; I was spreading myself too thin. I was confident in my decision and never wavered from it.
My grades immediately improved with that action. I knew I made the right decision. I made a lot of important life decisions during that school year. I became engaged to be married. I moved off campus and into the condo my fiancé and I purchased in the spring of junior year. I continued onward with my schooling. I worked. I planned my wedding. But when I think back on my junior year of college, I always remember that it began with Nine Eleven.
On Nine Eleven I was safe at college in Illinois, tucked far away from the terror taking place to my East. Being in the Midwest, I never happened to know anyone directly affected by the attacks on America that day. And I spent most of that day in the dorm rooms of my friends, watching coverage on tv. That was all you could watch. Everything else stopped. Not being directly affected by the attacks at all, and feeling the way I do each year on Nine Eleven... I cannot even bear to imagine the pain and suffering of people who were directly affected in any way by the attacks.
Being of college age when the terrorist attack upon America occurred, I believe I am a member of the in-between generation. Or, what I am calling the “Floating Generation.” Listen up if you are about my age and ever wondered what generation you fall in. Are you a millennial? Or a Gen X’er? I used to question my generational status all the time. Some days I thought with 100% certainty that I am a Millennial. Then, other days, I think, those silly Millennials!!! I canNOT relate to them at all! There’s no way I am a millennial, am I? I realized that people my age have our very own and very distinct generation. I hover. And float. The Floating Generation. I hover and I float between generational skills and beliefs. I float back and forth and go where the waves of time take me. I can balance that paper checkbook very easily if the internet went down. I can use Apple Pay at McDonald’s in an instant if I forget my wallet. Maybe someday I won’t even carry a wallet? I am a ‘Floater.’ Everyone is born into a distinct generation. It’s up to you to decide which one that is, though, and which one you will put yourself in - even if that means creating your own generation.
I had grown up prior to Nine Eleven. Nine Eleven occurred when I was a very young and very new adult. A young adult making very important life decisions for the very first time. For me and many others, there was life before Nine Eleven and life after Nine Eleven. Just like there was life before smartphones and life after smartphones were invented. And there also existed for us life before social media and life with the advent of social media. Or “Life Before Facebook” as I commonly say. I am of the American generation who has experienced both eras. I lived and survived life before the internet and now live with the internet a part of my life every single day. I know how to live with Facebook, although I have chosen to now continue life without a Facebook account. I know how to balance a paper checkbook, and will be forever and eternally grateful for the banking app on my phone home screen that keeps track of everything for me now. I float back and forth between the two eras, quite easily adapting to any situation on hand, maybe easier than others can adapt. We are adapters. Adapters to the continual and quick-paced changes taking place around us. This Floating Generation appreciates those little things like a bank app more so than any other generation potentially can appreciate it. Because we have seen, experienced, and know both ways of life. Generations coming up and being born now will have those pieces of technology molded into their lives from as long as they can remember back. How will they relate and study and know their past?
At some point in the unknown future, will there exist a generation of humans who don’t know how to live life without a smartphone? Or live life without the internet? I question if the internet will become classified as a public ‘utility’ in the future?... As imperative to life as gas and electricity and air conditioning and heat are now to our way of life? I compare and contrast my life before and life after in my head all the time, as only ones who really and truly experienced both can do so. And I also see life before Nine Eleven, and I see life after Nine Eleven. We are definitely a different nation today than we were before the attacks. Just as the entire world is different today directly because of social media’s never-ending presence, as well as the invention of the smartphone.
On future Nine Eleven’s, there will be more new and innovative inventions that will have changed human behavior and communication yet again. When I go to sleep tonight I will know that this day will come again 365 days from now. The world may be far different again next year at this time. And years into the future. One thing will remain the same though. That feeling inside my stomach. That pit. Because all the technology in the world cannot change the real and raw feeling inside a human heart. And stomach. It will be like the ‘Groundhog Day’ film, I think to myself. The same day all over again. Just 365 days apart, not the next morning. Except this year, 2019, there was one difference for me. Today, this Nine Eleven, 2019 - eighteen years later - I came to the realization that an entire generation of Americans are now legal adults who never lived through that horrific day in America. They don’t know what waking on this day feels like to some. They need to know our history. - how and why things can change in an instant. I pray they are taught what happened.
My dad is a World War II history buff. That’s how I have always thought of him. And when I think of his history knowledge, I then think of the show Seinfeld… The episode where Jerry and George see Keith Hernandez. And Jerry tells George that Keith Hernandez is a big Civil War buff. George is fascinated by the statement. He says he’d like to be a buff. What does one have to do to become a buff? He contemplates. My father is one of those such buffs. Sometimes I think he knows more about WWII than some of the generals who fought in the war.
Recently, June 6, 2019, marked the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. I like to educate myself about WWII. I like knowing as many details as I can. I’d like to someday know all that my father knows about WWII. Yet, I know I will never know as much as my father knows. He knows things that WWII movies get factually wrong. When this past 75th Anniversary came and went, I couldn’t help but think at the time, that someday, it will be the 75th Remembrance of Nine Eleven. And then the 100th. Whole generations come and gone. What will American’s think that day, Nine Eleven of the distant and unknown future? Will they be watching television that day, on some strange futuristic device, and see world leaders from all over the globe come together to remember the fateful day of the past? Will people put flags up and wear American flag tees and pins to remember 9/11 that far into the future? They might, and they will, if future generations are taught what happened. A history which is forgotten is a history that may be repeated. If something is forgotten, how does one learn anything at all from that something?
To the new and waking and growing generations of American’s out there - this is what Nine Eleven feels like to some of your fellow Americans. And next year, on Nine Eleven, Twenty Twenty, we will feel this way again. This is why the American Flag is brought out specifically today, hung proudly outside homes and businesses and in window displays and waving from vehicles all across the country. This is why news coverage is different today. This is why when you Google something today on your smartphone you will see a sad and somber black ribbon just below the search bar, draped gently over the American Flag; a Flag who mourns a loss from 18 years ago today.
And next year, on Nine Eleven, I already know on that morning I will again wake and I will again look at my calendar and see the date; and a sinking pit of a sad and heartbreaking feeling will fall upon my stomach. That Groundhog Day repetitive feeling will come upon me again. Reliving the day with heartache and a profound sadness. And I will go out into society to get coffee, and I will tip the barista something extra that day - whether I can afford to or not. Living the same day, with the same feelings and emotions, again. And tears will come again. Without end on that day of the calendar, Nine Eleven. For the rest of my life. I will never forget.
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