It’s time to Break It Down!
Posted on September 8, 2021
(This post appeared originally in this space on September 7, 2011. It was re-purposed and presented September 11, 2013, September 13, 2017, September 12, 2018, September 11, 2019 and again today, September 8, 2021).
As I re-post this past “Break It Down” entry, today is two days after Labor Day, and three days before the Twentieth Anniversary of Nine-Eleven; a day America will never forget. I have previously reprised both days. Due to the “China Anniversary,” I ask that you please spend a few minutes directing your attention to the horror that was September 11, 2001, and to the respectful memory and contemplation of its many victims.
(From the Archives, September 7, 2011)
Do you remember where you were, Tuesday, September 11, 2001? Today we observe the 20th Anniversary of the day that has come to be known simply as, Nine-Eleven (9/11). That day 20 years ago, America lost, in one fell swoop, any notion of its blissful innocence, its long-standing appearance of invulnerability, and its deeply ingrained sense of security. By some accounts, what it retained is its 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 Biden, as President Trump and President Obama did before him, deemed the day one of National Remembrance and Service.
Even after 20 years; two decades 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 traumas. 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 Passengers 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, when 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 has 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 in 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 twenty 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 a result of fortuitous failures of would-be terrorists, and partly a function of the fateful intervention of alert by-standers. Last year, President Trump negotiated an agreement to end America’s longest (20 years) war by May of 2021. President Biden, who succeeded Mr. Trump, committed to honor the agreement. Ultimately, he pulled American troops out of Afghanistan by August 31st. a pledge he ultimately honored, despite numerous suggestions, for a variety of reasons, that he abandon.
As we place the commemoration of Patriot Day 2021 in the rearview mirror, and twenty 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 in solo fashion. So here we are, “Nine-Eleven: Twenty Years Later!” I trust you will have a productive Day of Remembrance and Service.
I’m done; holla back!
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