It’s Time to Break It Down!
(This post appeared originally in this space on September 7, 2011. It was re-purposed and presented September 11, 2013, and again today, September 13, 2017).
The buzz for today, will likely center, as it has for the past three weeks, on the weather. The principal thrust at this juncture is taking stock of, and responding to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma, which was the second consecutive Category 4 or above hurricane to reach land in the U.S. after a 12-year absence of storms packing that level of fury. Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys, came up to Miami, veered westward toward Tampa and Florida’s West Coast, and went up to the Northern tip of the state, dropping record levels of rainfall in Jacksonville, the largest city geographically, in the state and in the nation. The storm registered a high one-minute sustained wind speed of 185 m.p.h. This tied the record for the second strongest storm on record in the Atlantic, along with Hurricane Wilma (2005), Gilbert (1998), and the 1935 Florida Keys Hurricane. That trails only Hurricane Allen (1980), which reached 190 m.p.h. before striking a relatively uninhabited area of Texas. Irma was preceded by Harvey, which did most of its damage in the Houston area of Texas. It dumped more than 40 inches of rain on the state, is responsible for at least 71 deaths, and caused estimated damages of up to $200 million dollars.
In addition to Harvey and Irma, two additional storms developed in the Atlantic, Hurricanes Jose, and Katia. The storms, have surely been, and continue to be newsworthy. They produced such high profile media stories that some networks devoted coverage nearly 24/7. It’s not surprising that this almost total immersion into all things weather resulted in a reduction in media-based air, print, and cyber time for 9/11 commemorations.
However, instead of storm chasing, I am going to re-post a past “Break It Down” entry. Monday was the Sixteenth Anniversary of Nine-Eleven; a day America will never forget. With that in mind, I ask that you please spend a few minutes directing your attention to the horror that was September 11, 2001.
(From the Archives, September 7, 2011)
Do you remember where you were, Tuesday, September 11, 2001?
On Monday we observed the 16th Anniversary of the day that has come to be known simply as, Nine-Eleven (9/11). That day 16 years ago, America lost, in one fell swoop, its blissful innocence, its long-standing appearance of invulnerability, and its deeply ingrained sense of security. By some accounts, what it retained is it’s self-righteous (some would say) belief in American Exceptionalism and entitlement; but that is a conversation for another post.
Suddenly we were at war, and the fight had uncharacteristically come to us, straightway. This battle was personal, and it was on our home turf; no longer some shadowy ideological military exercise, or guerrilla warfare episode, played out on foreign soil, half a world away.
U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 71 was introduced with 22 co-sponsors (11 Republicans and 11 Democrats) and approved by a vote of 407-0 on October 25, 2001 (with 25 members not voting). The bill passed unanimously in the Senate on November 30, 2001. The Resolution requested that the President designate September 11th each year as Patriot Day. President George W. Bush signed the Resolution into law December 18, 2001 (as Public Law 107-89).
On this day, the President directs that the American flag be flown at half-staff at individual American homes, at the White House, and on all U.S. government buildings and establishments, home and abroad. This year President Trump, as President Obama did before him, deemed the day one of National Remembrance and Service. President and Mrs. Trump commemorated the day with two events. The First Lady joined him as he led a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House, in remembrance for those lost September 11, 2001. Afterward he went to the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to participate in an observance.
Even after more than a decade and a half, with sixteen years worth of context building, and development of perspective, the numbers behind Nine-Eleven are chilling. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, and thousands of others were injured, and many more sustained post-event trauma. Examples of the carnage include:
- 2,977 Victims killed (not including the 19 hijackers)
- 2,606 Killed at the World Trade Center Towers
- 125 Killed at the Pentagon
- 40 Killed in Shanksville, PA
- 87 Killed on American Flight 11/NYC World Trade Center North Tower
- 60 Killed on United Flight 175/NYC World Trade Center South Tower
- 59 Killed on American Flight 77/Arlington – The Pentagon
- 40 Killed United Flight 93/Shanksville, PA
- 19 Hijackers
- 246 Killed on the four planes
- 19 Hijackers Killed (on the four planes)
- 2,996 Killed on Nine-Eleven
- 411 Emergency workers killed at the World Trade Centers
- 341 FDNY firefighters killed
- 2 Paramedics killed
- 23 NYPD officers killed
- 37 Port Authority Police Department officers killed
- 8 EMT’s killed
- 658 Employees of Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. (Investment Bank) killed; most of any employer
- 1,631 Bodies positively identified from World Trade Center Towers
- 1,122 Bodies (41%) remain unidentified
- Bone fragments were still being found in 2005 by workers preparing to demolish the damaged Deutsche Bank Building
- 72 Additional remains found in 2010 by a team of anthropologists and archeologists
A Medical Examiner will continue to try to identify remains in the hope new technology will lead to the identification of other victims. The death and destruction of Nine-Eleven led to the so-called Global War on Terror. Mostly the front lines have been in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, a central intent of the action has been to prevent a recurrence of Nine-Eleven-like events on U.S. soil.
The initial thrust began October 7, 2001 when the U.S., British, and Coalition forces invaded Afghanistan, and in March 2002, the U.S. and Coalition forces launched Operation Anaconda and the Taliban suffered significant losses, and left the region. In the interim, involvement in the region ebbed and flowed, but the war, which the Obama Administration referred to as Overseas Contingency Operation, continues. The War in Afghanistan is officially the longest war in American History. We have for some time been in the “every day is a new record” era.
U.S. Intelligence sources pointed to Al-Qaeda as the probable instigator behind Nine-Eleven. It’s leader, Osama bin Laden initially denied involvement. Over time, bin Laden became more emboldened; first conceding involvement, and ultimately admitting that he was instrumental in masterminding the horrific attacks. During his Presidential Campaign, Mr. Obama declared he would not relent on the hunt for Osama. The elusive terrorist was thought to be hiding in Pakistan. Mr. Obama stated bluntly that if reliable intelligence pinpointed bin Laden, he would deploy U.S. forces to find and kill him, which he did on May 2, 2011.
The good news is, over the course of the past sixteen years, there have been no repeat Nine-Eleven scale events on U.S. soil. That result is partly due to fastidiously focusing on prevention efforts, partly due to the fortuitous failure of would-be terrorists, and partly due to the fateful intervention of alert by-standers.
As we place the commemoration of Patriot Day 2017 in the rearview mirror, and sixteen years of Nine-Eleven related memories with it, Americans are still advised to be on high alert for potential incursions by terrorists, most likely of the lone wolf variety, where one person acts alone. So here we are, “Sixteen Years Later: Reflecting on Nine-Eleven .” Let’s get ready for a Day of Remembrance and Service.
I’m done; holla back!
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