Saturday, September 20, 2008

Remembering 9/11

Ford’s General Counsel, David Leitch, who happens to be my top boss, has created a blog for the office. Only the General Counsel and his direct reports can make posts, but the rest of us are encouraged to make comments on the posts. His post for Thursday, September 11, 2008 was essentially a lament that “9/11” had become just another day, that he feared we are forgetting the horror of that day, and more important that we may be forgetting, or so I understood his post to suggest, the evil we were called to combat that day. The post even had some nostalgia for some of the things that happened after those planes crashed into the World Trade towers and the Pentagon, such as Parisians singing the “Star Spangled Banner” in front of the Arc de Triomphe. I really respect David; he’s done great things for our company and I hope he will stay on, because Ford needs him, but on this I have to say that he got it wrong.

First of all, I can’t imagine many, if any, Americans being able to forget 9/11, even as much as many of us may wish, even every day, to do. Everyone who flies gets a memory jog when we have to remember all the things we can’t take with us, such as nail clippers and a corkscrew and now even a bottle of water. And then, we have to practically disrobe just to get through the security gate. But, maybe that’s either obvious or petty or maybe both. There are more significant reminders of 9/11: we’re much more aware of the Middle East and how big a ‘thing’ Islam is in the world, although I fear that what we think we know of these is poisonously tainted by the view that Arabs and Muslims were the same as the terrorists that actually perpetrated that horrific act of cowardice on that all too memorable day. And then, there are many of us who cannot forget all of the things that happened after 9/11, but will never understand the connection between 9/11 and its supposed progeny: the war in Iraq (this is an opinion piece that appeared in the Washington Post on the true cost of the Iraq war), the Department of Homeland Security, unilateralism as US foreign policy (including lashing out at those same Parisians and most of the rest of the Continental Europeans as “Old Europe”, because they dared not join US on our own jihad) are just a few examples that come to mind.

But, in the end I was personally offended that someone could think that people he works with don’t have the same thoughts or place the same importance on historical events that he does. I, for one, looked out the window at home and thought that the weather that day, which was simply glorious, a day in which one could only think the best of thoughts, was exactly the same sort of day it was on September 11, 2001. I found myself praying that something awful wouldn’t happen, again. And, I dared to hope that we might all return to a time, when a September 11 could be appreciated and remembered for the day it was on that day, and not some terrible day in history. It made me think that “a day which will live in infamy”, December 7, 1941, the day that the Japanese attacked (and all but destroyed) Pearl Harbor, is for the most part today, just 18 more shopping days before Christmas, which to me is the truest sign of our “victory” in World War II and the goal we should all have in the war on terror that was declared on 9/11.

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