The upcoming 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001 has been on my mind. I lost a few old friends that day. My father, who has worked in Manhattan for decades but was somehow traveling back to the city that day, told me that everyone on the street was quiet, for weeks, just trying to help each other. I had just left NYC for San Francisco one week before the disaster.
And now, 10 years on, a decade has passed.
Though Americans largely tend to view things before and after September 11th, it’s worth recalling that Osama bin Laden (OBL) and his followers have tried to strike fear into American’s lives much earlier, as they tried to smash the same buildings eight years earlier by sending bomb-filled trucks into the underground parking garages of the World Trade Center (WTC) in 1993.
It’s worth remembering, also, the message that bin Laden was trying to send. Briefly, he and his infidels wanted to wage a global jihad on the excesses of western culture, mainly American capitalism and American military expansion into the Middle East. In the destruction of the WTC (as well as the Pentagon and other intended targets), OBL wanted to (1) bring terrorism to American soil, (2) attack the vestiges of the American financial system, and (3) challenge American military encroachment in Arab Lands.
And now, ten years on, I am pained to believe that despite all of America’s valiant efforts, OBL has so far succeeded in realizing his vision, no matter that he is no longer living on earth.
Ten years on, the U.S. financial system has suffered its second-most disastrous fall (in 2008), the result of impressive financial greed, and the economy has been slow to recover and, some say, is on the brink of another downfall.
Ten years on, the American public cannot fly freely within its own borders, subjected to a battery of illusory security checks, bag requirements, and brutal TSA screening.
Ten years on, we have voted in elected officials that have authorized military commitments in both Afghanistan and Iraq that have cost U.S. taxpayers not only over $1 trillion (and counting), but countless lives of good young men and women lost, not to mention the families destroyed.
The next 10 years have to be better for America. We have to make better decisions. I believe the next 10 years will be better, but OBL’s plans weren’t just to rattle our lives on September 11th; he wanted to shake the foundation of America’s being, and now looking back over the last decade, he was successful in carrying out that vision. It’s up to us to make sure that the next 10 years reverse the course.
Ten years on, yes, “we must never forget,” but we must also strive to make better decisions — and if not, they could indeed win.