TWENTY YEARS GONE
The Morning Call laments that the America that was attacked no longer exists
The video at the link here is one we’ve posted on (or around, as today) September 11th, every year for the last 19 years. It is the original 9/11 video featuring “Only Time” by the Irish singer Enya, and it is, without question, the best, most moving video remembrance of that dreadful day.
The end of the video is especially powerful, in that it features a call to arms for Americans – not to seek vengeance but to seek justice and, in so doing, to enable peace and security.
This year, the video takes on special significance. Why? Because you can’t watch it – or at least most of us can’t. It was created use Adobe Flash technology, which is now obsolete. Flash is no longer supported by Adobe. It is no longer supported by most browsers (Opera being one good exception). In time, Flash will be gone entirely – sorta like the sentiments expressed at the end of the video.
Two things, in particular, amaze me about this day, this year.
First, I am amazed that it has been 20 years. I remember it vividly, like it was yesterday. I remember the whole office gathered around Kim Wallace’s tiny, 19-inch TV, watching the news. I remember seeing the CNN ticker flash “fire reported at Pentagon,” at almost the exact same moment as I looked out the window, across Lafayette Square, and saw agents/soldiers/whomever, clad in black, carrying light weapons of some sort, appear on the roof of the White House. I remember Kim, seeing the same two things simultaneously, standing up, waving his right arm, and saying – calmly yet forcefully – “EVERYBODY OUT!” I remember Napoleon, the head valet for the parking garage in our building, tossing my keys to me telling me where my car was parked because he and the two other valets were already racing around getting as many cars out as quickly as they could. I remember driving out of the city on eerily empty streets, listening to WMAL, as Tim Brandt and the other reporters/personalities at the station checked reports of other attacks – “Bombing reported in Foggy Bottom [i.e. the State Department],” for example. I remember driving home on equally eerily empty roads, taking 66 West all the way to the Beltway and then taking that back South and East, because my normal route home – south from the city, toward Mt. Vernon, right past Reagan National Airport on the George Washington Parkway – had been closed and sealed off. Most of all, I remember finally getting a hold of the Lovely and Talented Mrs. Soukup – who worked in north Old Town Alexandria – and her telling me that she was driving home with the windows up and the vents off in the car, because she was driving through smoke and because she’d read Melcher’s warnings (gleaned from law enforcement and intelligence sources) about the types of chemical agents Islamist terrorists could, without much trouble, unleash upon the nation.
The second thing that amazes me is just how far we’ve moved – in just twenty short years – from the fighting spirit embodied in the aforementioned unwatchable video. Two wars with largely inconsequential outcomes but thousands of lost lives and trillions of squandered dollars; two decades of largely fabricated complaints about “backlash” against Muslim Americans; too many intellectuals and other ruling-class types willing to equate national self-defense with new-Orientalist colonialism; and too little shared purpose, shared sacrifice, and a shared sense of moral duty have all combined, over both Republican and Democratic control of Washington, to accelerate rapidly the existing trend toward the dissolution of a unified American nation.
Or to put it another way, the nation that existed for a few weeks after 9/11 was a chimera. It’s gone. It’s obsolete. Just like the video that celebrated it.
What a shame.