I’m late with this one — I meant to do this yesterday, for obvious reasons. Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and I have to say I’m a little surprised how little was made of it. I expected to have memorials all over the place and articles written about it all over all the newswires, but I didn’t see much. What I did see written was not so much about the event itself or even the commemoration events, but the politics surrounding them.
Anyway, I’m sure that in years to come, it will be one of those “Do you remember where you were when…” moments. For me, some other such moments were the explosion of the Space Shuttle, the assassination attempt on President Reagan, and both times the Blue Jays won the World Series. On September 11, 2001 I was working from home because of a doctor’s appointment (allergist) in the afternoon. I was sitting in the kitchen when I got an email from a friend which said, in its entirety, “Check out cnn.com! Holy shit!” I tried to go to cnn.com, but the site was so bogged down that I couldn’t get there. On my news headlines home page, I saw the headline “Plane crashes into World Trade Center”, and I remember thinking that some idiot in an ultralight plane had been flying over Manhattan and clipped one of the towers. Maybe he’s dead and a couple of windows got broken. Jenny must have sent me the link because there’s some footage of the crash or something. Ten minutes or so later I tried cnn.com again, and still didn’t get anywhere, but that’s when I saw another headline: “Second plane hits World Trade Center”, and I distinctly remember the first thought that went through my head then: “Oh shit. One plane hitting the tower might be an accident, but there’s no way two is an accident.” I didn’t know at the time that it was passenger jets we were talking about, not little Cessna’s or anything, otherwise I wouldn’t have considered the possibility of an accident at all.
I ran and put the TV on, and sat with my computer in my lap for the rest of the morning. I remember that I was working on a new memory management system for SQL Anywhere clients, and that the project was eventually shelved. I remember calling my mother, who worked in an office building in Toronto, and she told me they were already sending everyone home. I remember hearing about the Pentagon attack and the fact that a fourth plane had gone down in a field, and thinking that the fourth one must have been bound for the White House. I remember going to the doctor’s appointment and everything seeming surreal, like now that this has happened, who cares what I’m allergic to? That evening, I went to get the tires rotated on my car, and I remember the guy at the counter writing the date on the bill: “September 11th. That’s a date we’re going to remember for a long time.” and all I could think to say was “Yeah.”
I don’t pretend to have followed all the politics afterwards. Everyone seems to be down on President Bush for going to war with Iraq under the guise of a “war on terror” when Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. It seems fairly obvious to me what happened. Bush looked for Osama for a while and got nowhere, and got antsy about not making any progress, so he figured “Saddam is a bad dude, he hates us, he probably had a hand in this”, a belief that turned out to be wrong. But Saddam was a bad dude, and he did hate the US, so you can’t really fault W for believing it at the time. The problem was that he acted on that belief before confirming it. By the time they figured out that Iraq wasn’t involved and had no WMDs and such, it was too late to get out without admitting he was wrong, something that politicians in general and W in particular don’t seem all that good at. I heard the other day that a survey of civilians in Iraq shows that many of them are less happy now than they were when Saddam was in power. Considering the nasty things Saddam did, that’s saying something.
Oh crap — political content on my blog! Quick, must scramble to find something more in line with my blog’s usual content… Ummmm…. New iPod! It’s cool! Got lots of songs on it!