Wed 07 September 2016

9/11 - Day of Infamy! Fifteen Years Ago

Posted by. James Jackson This article was posted in World at War and tagged with Day of Infamy, Sept 11, 911, 9/11, World Trade Center, 9/11/2001

 Fifteen years since 9/11, a September never forgotten

terran chronicles universe blog On September 11th of 2001, nineteen terrorists hijacked four large passenger aircraft. Two of these were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, one striking each building. Another was flown into the Pentagon, with the final plane crashing in a field in Pennsylvania.

This day will forever be etched into the minds of, not only Americans, but of many people belonging to Western democracies.

That fateful morning, I was asleep in Sydney, and due to fly out of the country, to America, a few days later. Paul, a friend of mine, rang and told me that a plane had crashed into a skyscraper in New York. I recall chastising him, saying that I did not want to know about a plane crash. He persisted, so I turned on the television. The news spoke of thousands dead, injured, or missing. I was watching as the second aircraft plowed into the second building. It was at that moment, I realized both impacts had been intentional. This sent a chill up my spine as I thought that if that can happen in New York, then no city is safe.

The next day I had to visit the US Consulate in Sydney to finalize my visitor's visa. The steps to the Consulate were covered in hundreds of wreaths from well-wishers. Public opinion in Sydney was vehemently in favor of supporting the US, no matter what action was decided upon, even to the extent of supporting the use of nuclear weapons.

As the days passed, Australia, and the UK, backed the US in any and all action decided upon. This decision made me proud to be an 'Aussie'. The only issue was that with almost three thousand dead, and approximately six thousand injured, there was no fixed target to seek vengeance against. This left many people frustrated and vexed.

I flew to Narita International Airport in Japan, and waited. My connecting flight to Chicago the next morning was still marked as delayed, so I retired to a nearby hotel as planned. The next morning, I caught a bus to the airport, and was surprised at the security. A pair of machine gun-toting officers demanding to see everyone's passports; we all complied! Once I was inside the airport, I wandered around. I had intentionally arrived early, to avoid issues in case there were special arrangements with the flight.

I walked around a corner and came face to face with another machine gun wielding security officer. He took one look at my large backpack, pointed the gun at me and said in halting English, 'passport'. I slowly lowered my backpack, took out my passport folder and opened it. Inside were two passports, as a dual citizen of England and Australia, I have both. The guard becomes agitated and says, 'no you can't have two!' – again his English was poor, but then I am impressed he spoke English at all. It is after all his country, not mine! I slowly opened both, then showed my US travel permit, which agitated him all the more. After a brief search of my backpack, he relaxed, and let me go.

To my surprise my flight was allowed to take off. I got on board and found it mostly empty. I had a row of five seats all to myself, so I moved completely away to a window seat. Many passengers were nervous. I told one man that it was the safest time to fly, because if any plane were hijacked, it would be shot down, thus not allowing the hijackers to achieve anything. He did not find my logic appealing, and stayed well away from me. The stewards and stewardess, were nervous too, but they did their jobs well.
When the plane landed in Chicago, we were all processed as one batch, and not able to mingle with any other passengers; indeed, I did not see any others, and this was O'Hare International Airport in Chicago! I heard my name being paged, which surprised the hell out of me. A connecting flight that I had booked, was waiting for me. Well, I did not want to board another plane, so I had made other arrangements. I was told that I had paid for the ticket, to which I said something like "...and I do not expect a refund, it's okay."

I landed in a very different America that day. A subdued America, but a nation undivided! People of all races worked in harmony, many forgetting old rivalries and hatreds. It was a great time of unity for this nation.
Sadly, this was a short lived affair, for the America of today is as divided as ever, if not more so. I have witnessed, via the news media, Americans burning their own flag, the same flag that was proudly hung after the 9/11 attacks. Old racial rifts have resurfaced once more, with hate groups fueling the fire. Ironically, some of these same people who saluted the police and fire departments for their losses during 9/11, now do all they can to challenge these men and women that serve and protect.

As I sit here and reflect on America, post the 9/11 attacks, I feel saddened. Not so much for the deaths and destruction of that day, but more so for how far many people have fallen since then. Some sports celebrities have refused to stand for the national anthem; I stand out of respect for the country I now call home. Some Americans burn flags, their own flags! I hung one, and I have a video proudly saying as much.

I understand the concept behind free speech and living in a free society, but I also understand having respect. I offer this piece of advice.

  • Respect those in Blue; you may need police protection one day.
  • Respect those in Red; you may need those firefighters to save your home.
  • Respect those in Green; you have your rights due to their sacrifice.

If you choose not to respect these people, then I have no respect for you!
Don't be ignorant; stand for the Anthem, get off your phone, remain quiet, and reflect on where you live. Consider how other people live, in countries not so free.

Where was I on 9/11/2001? I was in Sydney, hoping that I was not witnessing the end of the free world.

Where am I today? I am watching the free world dissolve all around me as hate begets hate; as fellow Americans turn on each other, while the enemies of the West gather at the gate, and wait their chance to strike.

Where will I be tomorrow? That is up to all of us to decide. We must break this vicious cycle, and learn to accept one other for who we are.


Take it easy mates.

James Jackson