Sunday, September 11, 2022

 A New Jersey Memory of 9/11 During Another American Crisis

Ignatian Solidarity Network blog post by Jack Raslowsky crediting David on the Lake 

Somehow, I cannot allow this sad 21st anniversary of 9/11 to pass unmentioned in this space, despite the pressing internally-created crisis of democracy in which our country now finds itself. The present pushes 9/11 into the background as if it were an incident from ancient history.  But, there is a common thread that I will discuss.

In part, I plagiarize this from a comment I made on this anniversary over at Mock Paper Scissors, in Tengrain's annual reposting of an iconic editorial, "The Falling Man," from a forgotten opinion writer, whose words shouldn't be lost.  

So, here I jump, with some amendments and additions:

I have the painful feeling that this fateful date is itself “falling into history” as we confront internal threats to our democracy even worse than the physical attacks on 9/11. It’s hard to focus on the past when we are engaged in a major fight now, one no less deadly than that on 9/11.

To me, 1/6 must join the pantheon of dates to remember in American history. It is as momentous as Apr 12, 1861, when Fort Sumter was shelled, Dec 7, 1941, and 9/11 itself. Memorial plaques should be placed where each person in the Capitol died, with contemporary photographs, so that tourists and visitors see that bloody recent history and what we are now fighting to preserve.

One thing cannot be doubted: the pernicious causal thread running through all of this is the GOP. It is that Party that deserves to die and that cannot be trusted to hold the reins of power again. However, the battlefield cannot be conflict with an armed mob. It must be a sound defeat at the ballot box to cut down another armed insurrection at its roots.

I don’t want anybody to think that I dismiss the significance of 9/11. My old office in North Jersey and my home there two decades ago were within sight of the smoke pyres from the WTC. I saw the smoke pillars with my own eyes for days afterward.

In February 2001 I went with my future Russian wife to a romantic dinner at the Windows on the World Restaurant in the North Tower.

By Scan of Windows on the World stationery, 
Fair use,

By User:Raphael.concorde, CC BY-SA 3.0, 
It was my way of telling her that I wanted us to be a couple from there on out–and we are. In recognition of that fact, I asked our waiter to take a picture of us together at the table. He did, as I’m sure he did for many other couples, and we still have it.  (I would post it but she remains ever shy about such things.  Just accept, please, that it's "a keeper.")
You cannot imagine how many times I have thought of that moment and the fact that the entire staff of the restaurant working on the morning of 9/11 died that day. As the Wiki article states: “All of the staff members who were present in the restaurant on the day of the attacks perished.”

I’ll never know if our waiter was one of them.

So, yeah, that place is gone, disappeared into thin air, and the toxic dust and death of that day, but not the memory of it. 9/11 is personal to me.

The misrule of the GOP over the last two decades, from the Bush '43 intelligence failure and negligence that facilitated 9/11; to the normalization of torture as a State sanctioned activity by Dick Cheney; the damage to the Senate and the Supreme Court's legitimacy through Moscow Mitch's perversion of the judicial nomination process; right through to the literally countless crimes of Trump and the "MAGA Republicans" (fascists), well, this anniversary and its memory reinforce my belief that this country is worth fighting for and its democratic form of government strengthened and reformed.

Yas has been quoting Lincoln a lot lately.  So I think it's safe for me to use some Lincoln quotes addressed to New Jerseyans of his time to reinforce the need for us to fight at the ballot box to preserve the best of what we have and to make it better still.

...I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.
--February 21, 1861 Address to the New Jersey Senate

The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am. None who would do more to preserve it. But it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly.
--February 21, 1861 Address at the New Jersey General Assembly

 It is necessary for us to put our feet down firmly now.

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