It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since that chaotic Tuesday morning when the security blanket we once huddled collectively beneath was briskly jerked away.
As the anniversary approached earlier this year, I had hoped it would pass quietly. But as advance media coverage began to ramp up, that clearly wasn’t going to be the case.
For me, as with many Americans, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have always been a difficult date to try to come to terms with.
When they first occurred, I had mixed emotions.
The senseless loss of life involved, of course, is deplorable and saddening. But, at the same time, I believed, as I still do to some degree, that the United States deserved it.
It was a wake-up call that our government’s international policies were not working.
Foreign citizens saw the United States as a rich, ugly monster hogging up the world’s resources while they suffered in poverty, malnutrition, disease and inadequate living conditions.
Instead of investing in their well-being, our military industrial complex enforced its will with tanks, guns, jets and CIA advisers. And the hatred in the eyes of the Islamic world was in plain sight. Bombings at the World Trade Center and embassies in foreign countries were obvious signs.
Yet, instead of investing in better lives for foreign citizens, we continued to fund our Department of Defense at massive levels to remain among the world’s military superpowers.
But what saddens me to this day is our country’s response to the attacks — WAR.
And not just one war, but two wars. We decided what was in the best interest of the world was to go blow some more of it up and if a few foreign civilians died in the process, so be it.
In Afghanistan alone, Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire estimates 8,813 civilians have been killed — or about three times the 2,922 civilians killed on Sept. 11, 2001. Meanwhile, the Iraq Body Count project estimates more than 100,000 civilians have been killed in fighting in the Middle East.
An eye for an eye.
The terrorists killed our sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, children and friends. Let’s do the same to them.
But as Mohandas Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
How can we bemoan the loss of our loved ones when our government is still ordering the killing of innocents? It just doesn’t make sense.
Despite my initial reluctance to do a story on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, I chose to reach out to John and Bev Titus whose daughter Alicia died in the attacks working as a flight attendant aboard United Airlines Flight 175.
Her story is most certainly one worth remembering and I count members of her family who live in Logan County among my long-time friends.
What I did not realize going into the story is that Mr. Titus had written a book on the path he and his wife have taken since they lost their daughter. While I knew that they had created a Memorial Peace Fund in Alicia’s name, I did not realize the parents felt almost exactly the same way as I do about the terrorist attacks and our country’s response afterward.
I had mostly hidden my thoughts on the subject since the first days because, honestly, people can get extremely irate about the subject.
To read Mr. Titus’ well thought out argument supporting his beliefs or to hear Mrs. Titus describe the way she was made to feel unpatriotic because she attended an anti-war rally made me realize there are other people who see Sept. 11 for what it is.
It is a tragedy not only in the sense that we lost a lot of good people, but it is also a tragedy in the sense that our country positions itself in the world in such a way that anyone would consider it as a reasonable response to our policies.
What scares me most, though, is that our government is not dramatically changing its international stances, setting us up for future events of a similar nature.
Sept. 11 should have taught us that the United States is not immune to acts of mass violence. We can, however, prevent many of them by dedicating ourselves to improving the world instead of dominating over it.
Reuben Mees is an Examiner Staff Writer who was plugging away at a Bellefontaine School Board story the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.