Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Anniversay Discussion

I apologize if I seem a bit rushed today. See, I’ve been dodging wildfires for the past few days, and they are still raging nearby, so I can’t stay long. My state musta done some real sinnin’ to deserve the long drought this summer and now the fires!

Anyway, I thought since the 10th anniversary of  the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on targets within the United States is upon us this weekend, I’d use today’s AI to get your thoughts.

Now I don’t like those “we must never forget” “God bless the USA” type discussion, because they usually don’t offer any real insight to anything. But I know I don’t have to worry about that from you all. I know I can count on an adult conversation about that day and where you were and the impact it had on your life and your community, and about the years since, the current climate (local and global) regarding security and terrorist activity, and the role of religious fanaticism in the September 11 attacks and other attacks since then.

Also, I’ve included a pretty interesting video:

On Sept. 11, 2001, NASA astronaut, Frank Culbertson, was the lone American not on the planet. Culbertson and two Russian cosmonauts were orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station as members of the Expedition 3 crew. Included is video captured by Culbertson and crew as they flew over New York City just after the attacks on the World Trade Center. Included is additional footage aboard the ISS, as well as interview excerpts of Culbertson’s recollections ten years later.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. I was fortunate enough to not be near NYC at the time, nor do I know any families who have been affected. I’d have to say the impact on me was “not much”, and for this I am grateful.

    1. I don’t think it’s as simple as that – the event had far-reaching, and global repercussions. I was on the other hemisphere from NYC, yet I was affected. I used to be able to get a US visa by sending off my passport to my consulate. Now I have to travel to a different city for a personal interview. I used to travel through LAX on my way to Europe, but now I make it a point to go via Asia. I have so far managed to avoid the full body scanners and the intimately “thorough” pat-downs, but it’s certainly a different world to what it was 10 years ago, even if I didn’t personally know anyone that died that day.

  2. The impact on me has everything to do with the ridiculous fear-mongering and narcissist drive of Americans all over the country to pretend that 9/11 had some sort of real impact on them. Osama Bin Laden succeeded 100% on 9/11, because he provoked every single sort of response that terrorism is designed to do.

    1. It was the reaction to the event that had a great impact, not the event itself. I’m sorry to say, but terrorist activities are fairly mundane. This was on a large scale, but an appropriate response is to extend resources the survivors, rebuild, move on.

      When we hit our five-year anniversary and people were still going on about it, my reaction was to think of how absolutely horrible it must be for those who lost loved ones. When someone I know and love dies, I grieve, I get sympathy and love from others, and slowly it stops being quite so painful. Eventually, I’m able to forget about the death altogether and just focus on my memories of the living person.

      But for the families who lost someone in 9/11, every single year the entire country bands together to re-open their wounds. We replay the horrific crash, the flames, the people falling to their deaths. We shove their loved ones’ suffering in their faces. Worse yet, we take every opportunity to inform them that their family’s loss has caused US great suffering. And then we have the audacity to claim that we’re doing this FOR the families, we’re preventing them from ever moving on for their benefit.

      How cruel and evil.

      Five more years have passed and I still feel the same way, only amplified. Can we please just let these people stop defining their lives based on the loss they suffered on one single day?

      1. I knew someone who had been in Asia when that huge tsunami hit years ago. She nearly died (barely survived) and lost a few friends…one was torn from her hands and drowned. It was a year later, and the news was just bursting with it. I had to go and sit with her in the basement far away from the TV for a long time, so she could talk and get it out and be able to face other people. It was very hard for her, and I don’t think we’re helping.
        I myself suffered some trauma as a child, and while it’s more than 20 years ago now, sometimes a movie or a show will feature a similar situation and it makes me really uncomfortable. I’m lucky to be down to “uncomfortable” instead of “bursting into tears”.

  3. In spite of the fact that I lived close to the Pentagon on 9/11, there was little direct impact on me. I did not know anyone hurt or killed in the attack.

    The luck of having a dentist appointment that day even prevented me from having to find my way out of downtown. I also couldn’t go to work on 9/12 because the building was inside the security cordon around the White House.

    But 9/11 was a huge milestone for me in letting go of religion. There was a Rabbi whose name escapes me who said “Religion drove the planes into those buildings,” and that stuck with me.

  4. I had just moved out of NYC in July of 2001 for what ended up being a 2 year stretch. On the day, I was at my folks’ place in NJ where I was then living. I was completely freaked out, calling all of my friends in the city and telling them they could come and stay with me out in NJ if they wanted to. I knew I had no reason to think any of my friends were downtown at the time (no one was happily) but my mind was still reeling, expecting the worst.
    One of the funnier things about that time was that I actually liked Rudy Guiliani for a brief stretch there, but that faded pretty quickly.
    Now that I’ve been back living in the city again, the effects are seen and felt by (I would imagine) everyone living here, even if they hadn’t lived here before. The constant reminders of “If you see something, say something”, the fact that the police have the right to randomly search ones belongings anytime you are in the subway system (I haven’t been searched, despite my slightly swarthy appearance, beard and sometimes long hair. Oh wait! It’s not about racial profiling. I forgot. Nevermind that, then). Not to mention the fact that we are constantly reminded that we are still a target. But then New Yorkers are good at blocking out the noise that bombards us every day. Be it actual noisy noise or visual-overstimulation noise.
    One of the things that I remember feeling very strongly from that time, and that has stuck with me, was that everyone seemed so neighborly, so willing to lend a hand and comfort, to help. All the good will, the idea that folks were just ready to pitch in; “how can I help?” and what did the mayor of NYC say?
    Go Shopping.
    That really got to me. At that time people would have gotten together and turned every abandoned lot in the city into a garden. That’s really the impression I got from everyone I talked to.
    I guess that’s just the little hippie in me.

    1. Dubya told us to go shopping too. Also, don’t forget the fiasco that was the Republican National Convention … protestors and random passerby arrested without provocation or charges that could stick, thrown into the Hudson Pier Depot at Pier 57 for more than 24 hours.

      I too never had my bag checked, but then again, I look like a “model minority”.

      One positive I took from the last 10 years, I’m much better about knowing the emergency plans and fire exits in any of the buildings I might be working in.

  5. I’m British.

    Because of American support for what appears to be nothing more than Israeli military murders your country was attacked. As as result, and despite no support from the people of Britain, we were dragged into two of your wars. Because of Blair’s and Bush’s bullshit, my fellow citizens were attacked and killed in a terrorist attack July 2005.

    To quote from wikipedia (

    “According to Marc W. Herold’s extensive database, Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing, between 3,100 and 3,600 civilians were directly killed by U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom bombing and Special Forces attacks between October 7, 2001 and June 3, 2003.”

    So goodbye, civil liberties! Goodbye, right to protest outside of Parliament! Hello, police with machineguns and rights to stop and search people! Hello, detention without charge!

    “Never forget” my ass.

  6. I had been feeling so good that week. I had just turned 25 that Sunday, and I was only recently employed once again. I woke up late that morning, and I had been planning on going to the Borders book store in the World Trade Center mall before going into work. Instead, I just jumped in the shower, dressed and headed directly for work which was at 1 Chase Plaza, about 3 blocks or so from the towers. I saw the one tower billowing smoke as I headed to the subway station and I tried calling my roommate (who would have to use the PATH train to NJ from the WTC) on my cell phone, but no calls were going through. So I called him on a pay phone and told him it looked like one of the towers was on fire and that he should plan accordingly. Got down to my subway stop and waited for a long while when a subway worker addressed us on the platform explaining that both buildings had been hit with planes in what looked to be a deliberate attack. Still, it was unclear what the damage was going to be like, so I ended up taking the train down until its last stop at City Hall. Walking down from there was eerie, with New Yorkers actually staring UP, wandering about confused and huddled around radios and TVs. I got down to my building but it looked like they were evacuating, so, morbidly curious, I wandered down Liberty Street to Broadway towards the towers when a cop poked me on the shoulder and kinda made it clear I should leave. I walked back up Nassau Street and when I got to about Pace University people started screaming about the tower falling. I turned, saw the first building crumble and bolted like everyone else (strangely, it seemed like people kept a good distance from each other preventing tramplings and the like). I decided at that point that the subway, already overflowing with people attempting to leave Lower Manhattan, was not the best bet and decided to walk the two short miles back to my apartment where the first thing my roommate did for me was go out and buy a six-pack of beer.

    Another memorable thing. I wasn’t able to call anyone, but my ISP was up and running, so I had email. I hadn’t heard from anyone from my office until I got an email from my boss. The only thing it said was “How much work can you do from home?” I deleted it and pretend it didn’t existed, because otherwise I would have to punch him repeatedly the next time I saw him if I acknowledged that such a message existed.

    I wrote down as many details as I could ten years ago. I’ve noticed that sometimes I have images and memories about that day in my head that even I found suspect, probably from other people telling me their stories and subsequent media coverage. As a recent study noted, even flashbulb memories are suspect.

  7. The last ten years were an inside job! The structural integrity of the space-time continuum is too strong to have been set in motion by a simple “big bang”! There must have been rigged explosives. Wake up, sheeple! :p


    At the time, I was a 17 year old boy going to high school in Durham, North Carolina who fancied himself a bit of a punk rocker. It happened during my first period guitar class. I heard about it on my way to my fourth period AP US History Class. We spent that period just listening to the radio and quietly freaking out. Me and my friends spent our lunch hour terrified about what was going to happen….whether war was coming. How big a war? Were we going to have to fight it? We suddenly felt not so proud about our anti-authority postures and our Dead Kennedys pins and how much time we had spent talking about what’s wrong with America.

    After school, my friend Ahmed came over to my house to watch TV with me and my brother. He cried. Being Canadian, it didn’t impact me to the same degree that it did him. That made it hard… I wanted to be there for him, to relate, to understand, to share his tears, but I couldn’t. It felt distant to me. All abstract. I kept thinking of Pearl Harbor and The Lucitania.

    Ten years later and it still feels abstract. I still feel disconnected from it and like it’s just this theoretical event, this chapter in a political science textbook. Is that awful of me? To be unable to connect to it on the human level? Is that a result of my nationality? Self-centeredness? A lack of being personally affected? A friend of mine from college named Rachel Corrie got run over by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza while trying to protect a Palestinian home. That was my first experience of the death of a peer. But even that wasn’t really directly connected to the whole thing, nor did it make me feel connected to that cycle of violence.

    I find myself feeling guilty about that. About the way I’ve been sheltered from the effects of the “War On Terror” and all the suffering and death involved, the actual human costs. I don’t know if I should feel guilty, or why. It’s hard to explain.

  8. I was still living on Long Island. That weekend I was in upstate NY with some friends on a Motorcycle run, Joe and I had taken Monday off so we could relax and take a long ride home. My most vivid memory is that evening we crossed Whitestone Bridge just after sunset. It was one of those really clear days with that skyline most people in cars never really see from the bridges because they sit so low, I was feeling really great at that moment. The next morning I was heading to the deli for some breakfast when my neighbor came running out to tell me what happened. I spent the next several hours helping my friends get there kids out of school.
    I was fortunate enough not to have known anyone directly, but I have several friends who are volunteer firefighters. They are such a close family I think it’s hard not to get caught up in the emotions they felt. I admit that I was scared and very angry when it happened. I wanted to strike back at someone. I was waiting to hear what America was going to do about this.

    Now 10 years later and I’m still angry, only now it’s at what this country has allowed to happen because of that day. I wonder what future generations will think when they look back on this past decade.

  9. I’m Canadian, and I live in the middle of the country, so nowhere near NYC. I wasn’t working that day, and a friend called and woke me up, telling me to turn on the TV. I was so confused, I couldn’t work out what she was talking about. I had cable at the time, so I tuned in…just in time to watch the second plane hit. I cried. A lot. I couldn’t believe how many people were hurt and killed…and all I could do was watch. The people falling out of the building was the worst.
    My sister and I went to donate blood that day, just to feel like we were doing something to help someone, we didn’t know what else to do.
    Now, I don’t know. It did make me happy to see New Yorkers pull together so strongly, especially with the reputation of them being surly and uncaring. I don’t know if anything’s changed for the better…but I have seen a number of things change for the worse (yes, you’d better take that extremely dangerous 2-inch-long nail clipper from me, Mr Bus Driver, clearly I am a threat to all Greyhound passengers), but I’m not sure if that’s because those things are most focused on in the media.

  10. I think that fear and hatred lead to fanaticism, and there always seem to be people who are willing to hate and are unwilling to see one another as fellow human beings. Religions are “us vs. them” groups, and therefore encourage us to dehumanize the “other”. It’s sad.

  11. I have learned that I prefer not to listen to, discuss, or watch anything regarding “9/11” and it’s anniversary revisits each year. For a man who loves to share his thoughts on any topic, I have discovered, when it comes to this, my thoughts are only my own. I truly don’t know what that means.

  12. Oh man, how wasn’t our lives’ affected! My brother-in-law, my sister and I were in the military at the time. There was the war in Afghanistan and the events that lead to the war in Iraq…our lives were changed forever by this. My brother-in-law is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan again shortly. We all participated in different jobs during the wars. I think that everyone knows about the terrible things that go hand in hand with war, so no use it horrifying people with that! But I think that we all walked away with a different world view. For me this was the best part of the war. I also got to meet different people that lived their lives in different ways and appreciate people for who they are whatever their struggle and to truly understand the privilege of being an American.

  13. Scientific methodology and credibility suffered a huge setback as well on that day, with scientists, engineers, etc, appearing to wriggle in interesting ways to justify their acceptance of an “investigation” that began by an outright refusal to study, catalogue, map, photograph, or preserve the body of evidence, that allowed that body of evidence to be destroyed uncatalogued, unstudied, with unseemly haste. An “investigation” whereby some of the chief “investigators” turned out to be “experts” in PR and spin, rather than in a science, engineering or forensics discipline, where the chief “investigators” announced quite openly at the outset what their conclusions would be.

    Where eyewitness testimony that did not support these pre-established conclusions was simply disregarded. Where untested theories were advanced on the basis of computer simulations tweaked in dubious ways and repeated ad nauseum to make them sound “truthier”.

    No one who has spent any time reading the official investigative reports, particularly anyone with any knowledge or understanding of the scientific method, has failed to become a skeptic of official explanations that fly in the face of known physics.

    Those who died, and those of us who are living in the much changed 9/11 world, deserve nothing less that a scientifically rigourous, transparent, well resourced, and totally independent investigation of the events of that day.

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