Falling

Falling

: There is one image of September 11th that I have said I could not and would not talk about:

The falling.

The image is too awful to recall, too painful to relate, even now, three years later. Instead, I remember the sounds: the sudden and horrifying realization of what we were witnessing heard through the airless, paralyzed gasps all around; the terrible sound that punctuated each life; the stifled, staccato screams then.

The falling is the worst of it for me.

Perhaps that’s because I have always had a crippling fear of falling. I can’t watch a movie or so much as hear a story about heights and edges without being overcome by involuntary cause and effect: palms drenched, heart crazed, adrenalin abundant, nerves arcing. We all fear our own worst death. Mine has always been falling.

And so you see, the worst thing about that day is not what happened to me, but what didn’t happen to me, what happened to so many so close that could have so easily happened to me. But it didn’t.

They fell, God rest their souls. I did not.

And ever since that day, I have lived in a limbo. I realize now that it has felt as if I have been falling all this time. I’m a third of the way down the giant tower. I can’t scream. All I can hear is the woosh of wind and jets and fire and speed; that sound is deafening and blocks out every other sense. And yet I’m not really moving. I’m paralyzed. Just falling.

The fall never ends.

Another year comes and I take stock and that doesn’t take long, for I haven’t moved and sometimes I fear we have not, either. My own stock-taking is my business and I’ll not bore or burden you with it; you shouldn’t care, frankly. But our stock-taking as a nation and as a civilized half of the world is troubling this year, for we are fighting with each other, not with our enemy.

And that enemy has only dug down to new depths of atrocity: from jets filled with innocents killing innocents, down to children strapped up as bombs, down to bombs in backpacks on trains, down to beheadings on video, down to schoolchildren captured and killed. They fall deeper and deeper into hell.

And we just yell at each other: left v. right, Kerry v. Bush, Swift v. Kerry, Moore v. Bush, France v. America, America v. France, Iraqi v. Iraqi, damned near everybody v. Israel…. We fight all the wrong fights and wrong enemies and meanwhile let our real enemies invent new evil and drag us down with them.

We’re all falling.

You’d think by now that I’d start to be feeling better, that we all would. Time heals, no?

No. Time hides.

Just look at the scabs of Vietnam: Scrape them today and they ooze and hurt. Amazingly, even Zell Miller’s accent at the RNC brought out a few pokes to the scars of the Civil War. Hell, let’s not stop there: All this we’re fighting about traces back to the Crusades and the odd old war in the allegedly Holy Land and, sure, Cain and Abel, while we’re at it.

You’d think by now we’d be learning. But we’re forgetting.

We’re forgetting the horror and anger and resolve of that day. How could we?

Oh, but I forget, too. Last weekend, I shuddered when I realized that this coming Saturday was the anniversary already. It used to be — right here in this weblog — that I counted the days, then weeks, then months, yet now I’m losing track of the years.

And that is why I will return to the scene on Saturday. I didn’t even have to tell my wife that I would; she already knew it.

I have to go back to remember so I can begin to forget, so I can snap out of this and end the paralysis and accomplish something real and decent again: So I can stop the fall.

I wish we would all go back to remember this Saturday, so we can forget the foul temper we are in as a nation and remember instead who our enemy is — and who his enemy is — and what our duty to our children must be.

Because the image I truly fear is not the image of what I saw that day but the image of what has yet to happen if we continue to fight among ourselves, if we continue to fall.

  • Matthew Goggins

    Jeff:
    Thanks for sharing. We need to do politics without the schoolyard brawling.
    I was 200 yards away from the World Trade Center when the Islamist murderers attacked them. I ride by the construction site there every day on my bicycle on my way to and from work.
    I wish Democrats and Republicans and independents could pull together the way we did three years ago, the way we did briefly once again a year ago when the Northeast had the big power outage.
    I think I’m more optimistic than you, though, about all this. I think the coming election will be a turning point, and once all the political bloodshed is over with, people will take stock of their lives and move in a more positive direction.

  • anne.elk

    You’re right Jeff.
    Time for us all to do something positive. Fight for change. Fight for a better America. An America of optimists. An inclusive America for all. An America of progress and of hope, an America that will win the war on terror, and an America that will respect you, the individual.
    In the long run, acting for the good of the country, taking positive steps, not perseverating, and not acting out of fear may be your (s and ours) best therapy.
    From Mary Beth Cahill:
    “The Democratic Party is launching a huge phone banking and door-knocking effort over
    the next several weeks in your state. We need volunteers in dozens of locations
    every night, starting this week.
    We’re reaching out by phone and in person to identify John Kerry supporters and
    undecided voters — and to recruit new volunteers. That is the work that wins
    elections. It’s hard work, but it’s also great fun, and a great way to meet other
    supporters in your area.
    Tell us what evenings or weekend afternoons you’re available to work with us and
    view locations by clicking here:
    http://johnkerry.com/VolunteerNow

  • Matthew Goggins

    Dear Anne.elk,
    I wish you great success in reaching out to Kerry supporters. Political activism is a noble calling, and building a community of like-minded citizens is a great accomplishment.
    With all due respect, I have a suggestion. Find another comment thread to post a party pep message. Although Jeff is a Kerry supporter, I think this particular post is not appropriate for your comment. Jeff is calling for unity of country, not of party.
    Thank you.

  • Andy

    The scrappiness and constant bickering are indications of our national mental health. If we were silent and agreeable, we would be very scarey. America works best when we bicker, dicker, back stab each other in times of peace and come together against a common enemy.
    When we surrender our American values the terrorists and murderers win. We must be American in all of our endeavours. We cannot afford to compromise our unique cultural ideals.

  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    I would like to think that the election will help us turn a corner, but terrorists don’t really care who we elect as president, just as they didn’t care that Russia didn’t support us in going to Iraq. They’ll hit us if they can and make this happen all over again.
    The only answers are to go after the murderers and to support democracy in the Middle East to start the reform of the region.
    And for balance, Anne…
    http://www.rnc.org/GetActive/Default.aspx
    Whomever you support for president, make sure that they are serious about fighting terrorism in the world. That’s the only way that we turn a corner.

  • http://runscared.blogspot.com/ Jazz

    Simply incredible writing, Jeff. Extremely powerful. Thank you for that.
    Jazz

  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    One other thing…
    Democracy is messy. But make no mistake – we’re not fighting among ourselves; we’re arguing.
    I want my children to inherit as safe a world as I can give them, I use my words to argue for them. That may mean that I disagree with other Americans, but I would rather argue with Americans using words to make the world safer and steer opinion/policy in what small way I can than to suffer another 9/11 or Beslan. Because it is the terrorists who fight us.
    That’s worth an argument. But we don’t fight. I don’t wish to hurt any fellow American at all or in any way. 99.9% of Americans feel the same way.
    The image I truly fear is a nation that pretends that our real enemy is not afoot. I fear a nation that forgets that our enemy does not want to use words against us, but weapons – of any type – to kill us and our children.
    Sticks and stones… I’ll take a messy democracy of loud voices any day of the week. Words won’t kill my family.

  • http://www.memefirst.com Sterling

    I got off the WTC PATH train that morning and walked through the mezzanine to the N/R subway. I suppose by the time I got to 8th St. the first plane must have already hit, and when I reached my office I could see the North Tower burning. I feel very guilty that I wasn’t there when it happened and during the aftermath, to suffer or help or die.
    I remember standing at the window on Astor Pl., watching a million people stream up Broadway and Lafayette, covered in soot and ash. A woman was wearing one high heel shoe and didn’t have the presence of mind left to take it off. I was numb and had nowhere to go, but the thing that still stokes rage in me is the idea that someone made refugees of us – that as a people we had to flee our homes and places of business. Refugees.
    When we finally get Osama bin Ladin, if he’s still alive, I want to see him hanged from a tall gallows in Central Park. I’ll spread out a blanket and a lunch for my friends and we’ll cheer as he kicks.

  • Rob

    One thing everyone can do is become directly involved. One way is to adopt a soldier. You can do it here:
    http://www.soldiersangels.com/
    Being directly connected to a soldier, even someone you’ve never met, will make a difference. You will feel more involved in the fight.
    This isn’t always easy, though. This weekend, when I heard about soldiers killed in Iraq, my thoughts weren’t about policy or politics or even the strategy of it. Instead, I thought, “Damn, I hope Eric is all right.”
    It pulls at you a little, but that’s probably a good thing.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    I just got very touching email from a reader who was — while emphasizing that he wasn’t joking or making a smart-ass comment — suggesting that I get PTSD counseling and look forward rather than back. As I said in the reply, I appreciate the sentiment but also want to make it clear that I’m functioning just fine (well, by some standards). When writing a brief post like this, the thoughts get condensed and seem more concentrated. It’s about one topic in life, not all of life. But as I take stock — which I do every time an anniversary approaches; I know I always will — I find myself mostly troubled by the tenor of the political dialogue these days and how it is preventing us all from moving forward. Thus, the post. I sat down and wrote this last night, because it was on my mind (I was truly shocked that the anniversary is less than a week away) and I thought I’d lead off my report from the commemmorations this Saturday this way. But then I decided this was really about anticipating the anniversary, so I posted it today. If anybody else had the same thought as my kind emailer, I just wanted to assure you that I’m doing fine, as fine as any of us are these days.

  • http://sqrlblog.blogspot.com Ricky D

    God bless you, Mr Jarvis.

  • http://www.lockhartsteele.com Lock

    Beautiful post.

  • Sally

    I read your post and it brought tears to my eyes. I was in Denver watching the tragedy unfold. I am in Denver now watching the tragedy that claimed innocent lives in Beslan.
    We must not forget. We must not let terrorists dictate our lives. I watch the politicians squabble and feel how out of touch they have become with us.

  • Kathy

    Jeff, it will be three years since the attack in our country and on other American government facilities throughout the world. During the Clinton years, we had attacks both here and abroad on American facilities, without adequate American response.
    Can you explain to me what you think Kerry will do differently than Clinton? Especially now that his campaign is being run by Clinton and his advisors?
    My concern is that my fellow Democrats are voting the “Anybody But Bush” line. I guess I am more of a Roger Simon and Glenn Reynolds type in that if we don’t have national security, what does anything else matter.

  • Franky

    Jeff,
    Although I respect your heartflet plea for unity, it’s simply not possible. We’re an open society and we have different ideas of how to defend ourselves, make the world a better place. Some thought attacking Iraq would bring peace to middle east removing a tyrant, others thought it was a wasted attack on a non-threatening foe that would spawn a million more terrorists. There can be no midpoint in that discussion – it is zero-sum, either we attack or we don’t, and whatever does or doesn’t happen one side will feel that we’ve made a terrible mistake.

  • http://bitchalicious.com/blog/ rachel

    God Bless you and you’ll be in my prayers.

  • Matthew Goggins

    Shark:
    I don’t get it. What are you trying to accomplish?
    I don’t see how telling someone “to take stock of your lousy political choices” is supposed to persuade anyone of anything.
    And you know what’s funny, I actually agree with you. I think the Ted Kennedy quote you chose is horrible, it is real political pollution. But even if Jeff thought it was a horrible quote too, how could he possibly want concede your point when you accuse him of lousy political choices.
    What makes it worse, is that you seem to ignore what Jeff has written here. He is baring his soul, as much as a soul can be bared on the internet, and you engage him by challenging him in a disrespectful way. Why can’t you acknowledge his anguish and deal with his politics in a respectful manner?

  • midwich

    This is why I keep coming back here. We disagree mightily on a number of things, but we are together on this topic to the nth degree. My heart goes out to everyone who was there that day :((((

  • http://myblahg.blogspot.com Robert McClelland

    I wish Democrats and Republicans and independents could pull together the way we did three years ago
    Blame Bush for that. He’s the one who made 9/11 and the war on terror the central plank in his campaign. The Dems tried to warn you all about his politicizing these things from the start but as usual, you right whingers ignored it. So you only have yourselves to blame.

  • PJF

    I hope you achieve the healing you seek in your return to Ground Zero, Jeff. I wish you the best for recovery from your suffering.
    And to all those who suffer.
    .

  • http://www.tonypierce.com tony

    beautiful.
    cheesy as it sounds, i think the US needs to officially make 9/11 a holiday where we can all mourn and re-think our beliefs about brotherhood, heroes, and freedom.
    thanks for taking the time to post this.

  • http://RuthCalvo Ruth

    Thank you Jeff, you were aware of what was going on at a much more direct point than the rest of us, and I truly appreciate your sensitivity for the falling. Some one actually emailed me a video taken of some of this, and luckily he warned me by his message that this was what I was supposed to open, and I didn’t. So I’ve been spared.
    On the 11th when I arrived at work, I was aware my son was scheduled to fly out of National Airport in D.C. You can imagine what it was like to hear what was happening, and not to know for hours what flights were involved. I sat in suspended animation until late that afternoon in a high building that had closed down, when finally he answered my email asking him to let me know he was o.k. He had been sent home from a closing airport before the boarding began.
    Mine was spared. I can slightly imagine what it was like for those whose weren’t.

  • Kat

    Robert–are all Canadians as dense as you? Did the cold freeze your brain? Our country was divided long before the campaign–on one hand we have people wanting success for our troops in Iraq and on the other side we have those hoping for their defeat and today they celebrated a thousand casualties…they literally crowed with glee. You yourself are hoping our troops would lose in Iraq and suffer more casualties so don’t give me this Bush blame, you little terrorist asskisser.. Crawl back in your cave.

  • billg

    Jeff, powerful words. Thanks.
    Robert McC, you are a nitwit.

  • pianoman

    Competition leads to excellence. Competition of ideas leads to excellent ideas.
    That’s the way it works. It can be nasty and brutish, but in the end it is truly the only way to move forward.
    As to remembering 9/11: I decided that each year I would select a name at random from the list of victims, and then learn as much as I could about that particular person. Bringing the horror of that day closer to heart, you might say — and putting more of a human face to it.
    Your post was beautifully written. Thanks.

  • Kat

    Well, David, this will give you a hardon and then you and your ilk can partay. I hope you strap on a bomb and praise allah.. Hope you get to your virgins really soon.
    Quote from anti war terrorist asskisser:
    I Guess the baby soldier body parts flew just EVERYWHERE! Imagine the game:
    “Look Abdul, I found an arm!”
    “Here’s a couple of ears!”
    “Gee, Mustafa. I think a found a scrotum, and the balls are still inside!”
    Hoo-ray! 985 and counting… When it hits 1000, my friends and I are going to PAR-TAY!
    Party on, David.

  • Kat

    That was from Instapundit BTW.
    I will be happy to have Jeff remove my post, it is no longer necessary now that he has removed your gloating that the casualty number has reached 1000.
    Jeff wrote a touching tribute to a day we should never forget. You took it as an opportunity to shout with glee that you had reached an important milestone celebrating American deaths in Iraq. Go to an islamic site if you want to celebrate.

  • Kim

    I have been avoiding anything written in reference to Sept. 11th. I hate when the memory is shoved on me it feels like a sucker punch. Your posts have never made me feel that way. You recently linked to Jay Rosen and I took a chance and was surprised how much insight he had and how the things he said stuck in my mind. People who say everything changed on 9/11 are not so much 9/11 people as they are people who are “struck by a strangeness recalled from the morning of the 12th.” That reminded me of something I had twice tucked away. I cleaned out my dresser while packing and came across a ticket for 9/10 for a Yankee game. The game was rained out and I stuck the ticket in my drawer thinking I would trade it in for another at a later time. When I found that ticket I didn’t recognize it and the date startled me. I showed my husband and wondered where the other ticket was. We went together there should have been two. He keeps the other in his wallet. I never knew. Jay also wrote that “those who came within the shadow of the falling towers on Sept. 11 had acquired an intimate view of terror.” How simple and true. I’ve mulled over the rest of his words “We have to start the story over, people. We are in a new here and now” and dug out that dumb ticket and put it on my desk. We are in a new here and I have no desire to return to the day of 9/10 knowing now what 9/11 held in store for us. I really admire your ability to not only return and honor the memory of the people we lost but to also share it. To me you have already accomplished something real and decent.

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    Robert McC, you are a nitwit.
    Ooh, good thought.
    Robert McClelland nitwit: only 32 hits though.

  • http://www.relapsedcatholic.blogspot.com Kathy Shaidle

    Please ignore Robert Mc. Up here in Canada, where he is a notorious troll, we call him lots of unprintable names. I call him the Sleep Viking.
    If you don’t feed him, he will slink away eventually.

  • http://nevon.typepad.com Neville Hobson

    Jeff, what a powerful story. My own feelings about 9/11 are wholly humbled by your account.
    I wasn’t there, I was the other side of the Atlantic in Amsterdam where I am today. But I witnessed so much on live TV as if I were there.
    The falling. Yes, that’s the most horrific thought I have. And that’s mostly from watching a documentary about 9/11 on the Discovery Channel. It wasn’t about falling but that’s what has stuck in my mind ever since because of the sounds I heard in the documentary and the awful realization that dawned on me as to what those sounds were.

  • http://blogs.rny.com/sbw/ sbw

    Note: In Falling, Jeff Jarvis wrote about the image of those tumbling from the World Trade Center Twin Towers after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. Jeff explained, “the image I truly fear is not the image of what I saw that day but the image of what has yet to happen if we continue to fight among ourselves, if we continue to fall.”

    To reverse the fall for the rest of us, all it takes is a change of mind.
    Community. How do you forge community where history has shown no common basis for it? Religions require faith that does not necessarily transfer to other cultures. Philosophy has consumed itself with its introspective drive for ultimate proof. It would seem there is no hope — unless we manufacture it ourselves.
    For my suggestion, see … After the fall

  • Mel

    Great post Jeff, it brought back a lot that though I don’t dwell on it often, has changed me in far too many ways to completely understand. And Kat, please remember to not lump all Canadians into the category of those a la Rob. His sentiment is certainly shared by some Canadians sadly, but there are many who understand what we’re all fighting against. 9/11 was the catalyst for me, as it surely was for many. I hate to admit it, but I was a Chomskyite of sorts before then. Though I had begun to question leftist orthodoxies, watching those towers burn and fall that I had stood under a year before and then going over to a friend’s house to hear how the USA somehow “had it coming” proved to be the decisive turning point. The idiocies and sheer inhumanity of this type of thinking were revealed in all its naked despicableness and so my awakening began. For my commentary on 9/11 two years later, check out: http://www.incornsyucopia.com/Articles/9-11.htm Sadly it’s still applicable one year later…

  • http://myblahg.blogspot.com Robert McClelland

    You right whingers have no shame. I write that Bush has politicized the war on terror and 9/11 and made it the only plank in his campaign and you dishonest rubes (kat, billg, charlie, kathy and mel) claim I’ve said, “Long live Al Qaeda”. Bah, I’ll be glad when rubbish like you are all consigned to dust bin like all the supporters of fascism eventually are.

  • http://RuthCalvo Ruth

    Thanks, Jeff, the vision of those two towers falling came to mind this morning when I was listening to an interview of Colin Powell, and he commented that in view of Saddam’s persisting in refusing inspections and ignoring sanctions, the administration had to “take the opportunity” at this time to make war. An opportunity.

  • http://jeffbrokaw.net/notes/ Jeff Brokaw

    Most excellent, Mr. Jarvis, thank you.
    The other night on A&E this movie “Seven Days in September” was on, and it chronicled the first week in NYC after 9/11. Everybody was helping each other, focused on the task of searching for survivors and cleaning up. Flags were everywhere.
    The contrast to today’s mood was … um … striking.

  • http://www.whatsapundit.com Mark Poling

    I was on the 29th floor of a midtown tower that day. I had a perfect view of the second plane striking (actually, only of the fireball coming through the north side) and later, of the second tower falling (I missed the first trying desparately to get a call out to my family).
    I didn’t watch the news untill 11:30, because I feared what I would see.
    Then I turned on the news, and saw a man make his choice.
    Anyone souless enough to try to score points with this stuff, go screw yourselves. Real people had to make the decision to burn or to jump that day, and if the thought of that doesn’t get you out of your narcisistic posing, you’re beyond help.

  • http://RuthCalvo Ruth

    There will be a living memorial to the victims of 9/11, with a webpage for each victim. It will not be able to start up this year, as the government funding will not reach it yet (“the check is in the mail”). Information at: http://www.911livingmemorial.org where people can register for more information and learn how to get involved. In January, a public meeting will be held in New York to gather people face to face and solicit ideas.

  • http://wwwjackbenimble.blogspot.comWEBLOG Jack

    It was a powerful comment. So many of us are attached to 911 in so many ways. I was supposed to have been in the city for a tradeshow and then visits with my clients.
    I only had one in the tower, but as it turned out the economy tanked and I decided not to go to the show. I might not have been at the WTC, but then again I might have.
    My best friend was working at Cantor Fitzgerald on a field assignment. He and I had discussed my coming down to meet him for breakfast or lunch or something.
    I might not have ever come close, but I might have. To some people it might seem like this is not even close and not meaningful, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.
    911 had a big impact, we are still learning about it.

  • http://eviljuan.blogspot.com/ Fr. John McCuen

    Dear Jeff,
    Thank you for a well-written and touching message. I was in San Francisco on 9-11, preparing for a Divine Liturgy at our cathedral there; and spent the rest of the day watcing the coverage on television in shock and disbelief.
    Your connection to falling resonates with me. As a kid, we used to go to an airport on weekends and watch the aircraft take off and land. Now, I live about 6 miles from our airport, and can watch flights coming and going throughout the day. I can’t help but remember the videos of the aircraft striking the Towers each time I see a takeoff or a landing; especially if the pilot must make a few turns, say, for wind gusts.
    By God’s grace, we move on, and can function in our lives. We do not have to be consumed by the events of that day. But we will never forget; nor should we. May the Lord have mercy on us all.

  • David All

    Dear Jeff,
    Thank you very much for your eloquent post about Sept 11th. I was at the Pentagon doing my job in the Pentagon Library when it was hit.I too, have been struggling with the memories of that day. All of the Library staff made it out okay, but a number of our regular patrons who were in the area where the plane hit did not. I can never forget the shock I felt reading the death list in the paper that Sunday when I reconized the name of a patron whom I had known for years. I just stopped reading and did not go back to the list for several days When I resumed I reconized other names, also. Still later I saw the pictures of the dead and reconized some of them as well.
    Dealing with what happened that day and the continued threat of terror attacks still upset me, particularly now as another aniversary approaches. I still work at the Pentagon Library, which, after a period of being sent elsewhere is in a temporary building next to the Pentagon. This building shakes whenever a plane or a helicopter flies overhead. Me and the rest of the staff do our work, our duty, as best we can.
    For all those who perished that day at the hands of those cruel monsters, I can only repeat a stanza of a poem, “For the Fallen” that is inscribed on Scotland’s War Memorial to her dead in the Great War, 1914-1918
    “They Shall Grow Not Old
    as We Who are Left Grow Old
    Age Shall Not Wither Them
    Nor the Years Condemm
    At the Going Down of the Sun
    and in the Morning
    We Shall Remember Them”

  • http://inbillsworld.blogspot.com/ bdfaith

    One of the best 9/11 posts of the day, and I don’t even need to see the others to know that. I just posted the following at http://inbillsworld.blogspot.com/2004/09/remembering-911.html:

    I’m sure as the day wears on the web will fill up with 9/11 remembrances. Two of the best, no matter what any one else posts, will be Michele Catalano’s and Jeff Jarvis’s. When reading the Jeff Jarvis post, bear in mind that Jeff is a 9/11 survivor — not a spectator, not a witness, a survivor.

  • Steve

    Were all survivors.
    Yet some of us have forgotten. That’s sad.
    We’re NOT all falling. Some are. Those who hate the others are, whether they be “liberals” or “conservatives.” They’re falling.
    Not all of us. We haven’t learned to hate each other. We still hate those who did what they did to us on 9/11. Contrary to popular myth there’s nothing wrong with hating. Assuming there is just cause behind the hatred. Why not? Is there something inherently evil about hatred?
    It gives us focus. It reminds us that we cannot go about in the world with daisies in our hair and a song in our heart. That turns us away from the hatred, the focus needed. These are evil men who have done this thing. The depth of their evilness is something most of us cannot understand nor fathom.
    But we cannot order our lives and regain the happiness of lost youth. The innocence that was is gone. And there was a certain innocence throughout our society and our culture.
    Hating Republicans or hating Democrats is a waste of the focus for our hatred that we must have. These are not gentle people. They are not reasonable people. Their heads don’t occupy the same space as ours. They served terror for brunch that day. To assume that we can otherwise deal with them with something other than hatred, to intensify our effeorts, is a vain and petty belief, something not worthy of us.
    Let us not hate Bush, let us not hate Kerry. Let us not hate our state senator or county commissioner for perceived wrongs. We need to focus elsewhere. Whether evangelicals or atheists we have a common enemy. In times past we joined together to take on great evils. Consider the circumstances of the Second World War, those who died, mothers who lost sons, and the world did that in terms of millions of souls, souls lost to us forever.
    We need that focus today. Our backbiting, name calling and undeserved hatred directed towards our civilian, political representatives serves us ill at best.
    We are NOT all falling. Some of us hate those who brought the depth of their evil nature to our attention three years ago today. We are focused. We will insist that our elected officials work harder to protect the interests of our people and, most importantly, protect us from such evil. It will not be accomplished in the near future. Our grandchildren may need to carry on the fight.
    We cannot live in a world where there is one person with such evil in their heart. There is no compromise. There is no higher priority. Our concerns about the economy, education, health care and all the rest remain important. But they are all a good distance from what must be the focus of our concern.
    We are all survivors. And we are all NOT falling.
    I dislike this article. The metaphors are rich. It is well written. But we must be stronger than its author. We have children. We’ll have grandchildren. What do we pass on to them? A sense of terror Where in the article is there a call for the spirit to rise and defeat the gloom and sheer terror and horror that was 9/11?
    It’s about survival. Fortunately we are NOT all falling. The author survived and was there? Others were near at hand. Those who fell that day struck terror in the hearts of those watching on TV a continent away that day. You didn’t need to be there to experience the horror, the sheer unlimited horror of what occurred.
    We are NOT all falling. Some of us are still mad, still focused, and don’t spend our time in petty politics and name calling, second guessing an American President and a member of the U.S. Senate. Let us hate others. Let us hate those who caused some of us to fall.

  • http://www.sampletheweb.com C.K. Sample, III

    I wrote a post about 9/11 on September 16th, 2001, just several days after the attacks. Yesterday, I reposted it in memory of that day:
    http://www.sampletheweb.com/archives/00000053.htm
    Something that struck me then, and which you touch on here, was how almost as soon as it was all over, the news and everyone involved started fabricating stories and myths about the event to counteract how insanely real the horror of it all was.
    Also, what disturbed me most about the falling people was how many other people on the ground died because of people jumping out on top of them. Both positions—that of the person forced to jump to their doom to avoid another certain doom by flames, and the person either trying to scramble away from his/her doom or to help others from certain doom, but being hit from a falling person from above—are horribly helpless positions to be in, and I think speak to why these wounds remain raw and are never really allowed to fully heal.
    We modern day Americans don’t like to ever feel helpless. We like to think that we are in control of our own lives. The reality of that day and which we all need to learn to some degree to move on and learn from days like that is that there is much in life which is beyond our control and which we must deal with, accept, and work through and around. If we can accept this hard truth of life, I think we can begin to heal. Reading out the names of every person that was lost each year in a televised ceremony doesn’t allow for that. It instead makes the move to mythologize the moment, treating their very tragic and unnecessary deaths as some kind of heroism.
    I’m not saying that there weren’t any heros that day; I’m just saying that that should not be the point of remembering the loss of that day. I’m not sure what the point should be, but there needs to be some change for us to heal and learn and to help prepare for future days like this that are beyond our control. Think of Florida now with the hurricanes. There is no preventing such disasters. If terrorists want to terrorize, are willing to give their lives for their terrorizing, there is nothing anyone can do to fully prevent that; we can, however, prepare for these things. Many of the nations of the world who have been living with terrorism for many years, know this truth all too well.
    Right now, America is not preparing. America is wounded and lashing out. We need to look at how Britain has dealt with IRA attacks for years. There are precautions that can be taken without making everyone a suspect and potential terrorist. There is a way to live cautiously prepared for terrorism without all the over-riding fear pervasive in America right now that accuses everyone of being a potential terrorist and impedes our daily freedoms.

  • Louis Wheeler

    Thank you Jeff, that article was quite moving. This has been a rather weepy weekend for me– a painful mourning, but a required one.
    Respectfully, I must disagree on a point– after 9/11, America was not really united. It might have seemed so, because our nation was in shock. We drew close to one another out of fear, uncertainty and panic, since even a familiar enemy was better company than the gibbering chaos outside. But, this comity was doomed to fail no matter which party was in power.
    The genius of America is not that our political system creates agreement, but that it moderates disputes. Unlike other countries, we change our leaders without bloody violence. Our political parties may agree on many things, but differ often on methods. So, disagreements were bound to flare up after 9/11, just as soon as plans were made and actions were taken.
    Then too, partisan interests were at stake; The attacks on 9/11 could not have come at a worse time; The Democrats already felt beleaguered due to the divisive 2000 election; it seemed imperative that President Bush just served one term. The Democrats correctly feared Republican success in prosecuting the war, and of how this could affect America’s domestic politics. If the party in power were affective in attacking our enemies then the voters might think them right on other issues. It worked for FDR, so why not for Bush? The tide of history seems to be moving against the Democrats; which lends to their despair. They could not have found a worse candidate. They could not have chosen less convincing arguments.
    It hardly seems fair to blame either party for the divisiveness of the current campaign. Each is playing the hand they were dealt. Each must act, but the final arbitration is not up to them. It will be in the voting booth.