Posted: 09/10/11 15:37
by Dave Mindeman
It was a beautiful day in Minnesota. I had the day off and was looking forward to just relaxing...doing nothing. I remember walking into the bedroom from the kitchen and seeing the TV with a picture of smoke pouring out of a skyscraper. I stared at the screen trying to get some context. The announcers were talking about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. A plane? Even at that first moment my mind didn't trust this to be an accident.
I went to the living room and turned on the main TV and started channel flipping the news channels. Indeed, it was on every one. The various reporter commentaries were trying to make sense of how this could happen. I remember watching the financial channel (CNBC) and the picture of Mark Haines staring at his monitor and using words of disbelief. He was showing more than just a reporter's tone -- he was emotional.
Then the second plane hit the other tower. Things became a blur, and over the years, I have lost track of some of the sequence of events. The Pentagon gets hit. A plane is missing over Pennsylvania. Fighter jets are scrambled. President Bush is in the Midwest. Dick Cheney is in an undisclosed location. The towers fall one at a time. And the dust....the dust that blankets the scene.
I listened as the reports came in about how the passengers on those planes were held hostage as the planes flew into the buildings. I have this coping mechanism that my mind does when I hear such things....I imagine myself in that situation. I remember visualizing being on the plane....knowing that death is the probable outcome of the situation. Would I simply wait quietly for the end?....or would I make some desperate attempt to fight back knowing I'd probably die anyway? The whole exercise is a feeble attempt to try and understand what is happening. And the ultimate difference is that it is all in my imagination. Those people had to deal with if for real.
Although I was still bitter about the election loss of 2000, I knew that we had to stand behind the decisions of the current administration. This was a call to arms. A legitimate use of military retaliation...but, as it turned out, the legitimacy was extended much too far.
That Tuesday, 10 years ago, changed things. Changed everything. But it was also a moment...a brief moment...when the country was acting as one. We supported one another. We set the politics and the divisions aside, ever so briefly. And even in our vulnerability of the moment, the power and resilience of this country was immediately evident as well. People performed selfless acts. People didn't have to be asked to help each other. Although fear seeped into our psyche, it did not paralyze us. We acted when we had to. And we found the strength when we needed it.
In the 10 years that have followed, the power of that moment was abused, leading us to deeper divisions both politically and socially. Yet, 9/11 still showed us what we are capable of. That inner strength that is more powerful than any enemy or crisis we can face. We are still the greatest nation on earth. We still meet any challenge and vanquish any foe. We are still, deep down, the UNITED States of America. And even in times of deepest controversy and division, we know that our capabilities are infinite.