Our day that will live in infamy

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

I wrote on the Sunday following that day of infamy:

“I sat down at my computer at about 6 a.m., unfolded the newspaper and switched on the television. There was smoke pouring from the top of one of the unmistakable landmarks of New York City, the World Trade Center. Well, I thought, there’s a story and photo for tomorrow’s front page, and started into the morning’s routine.

“Minutes later a fireball blossomed from the other tower, and it began to dawn on the commentators and me that this was no ordinary accident and Sept. 11 would be no ordinary day.”

I started making phone calls. Reporters and photographers were dispatched to Hoover Dam, McCarran International, City Hall, Nellis Air Force Base, the Strip and elsewhere. Editors huddled. The publisher called in and said we should add 24 pages to the Wednesday newspaper. All plans were scrapped and we started from scratch, hoping to help our readers make sense of a senseless act.

Every section of the paper kicked in its resources.

The press crew rolled the presses early and cranked out thousands of extra copies.

Then I wrote that Sunday:

“I was proud of what we all had accomplished, of the concerted effort and professionalism, as I drove home at 1 a.m. … until I heard the callers on the radio. People were saying they would gladly give up some freedoms for the sake of safety.”

I wanted to reach into the radio and slap some sense into the callers.

The column proceeded to tick off some of the rights spelled out in the Bill of Rights and I wondered aloud which people would willingly sacrifice. The First’s right of assembly, lest there be a bomb, and no freedom of speech and religion, especially that one? The Second’s right to bear arms? The Fourth’s prohibition against warrantless search and seizure? The Fifth’s right to due process? The Sixth’s right to a public trial?

I concluded:

“If this is the consensus of the nation, the bastards have already won, destroying our will and our principles as well as planes, buildings and lives.

“We will have surrendered without firing a shot in the first war of the 21st century.”

The column appeared sandwiched between a Jim Day cartoon and a Vin Suprynowicz column with the headline: “The passengers were all disarmed.”

In a comment to a local magazine on an anniversary of 9/11 I called it “our Pearl Harbor.”

A version of this was posted on this day in 2017.


3 comments on “Our day that will live in infamy

  1. Bill says:

    I can’t help but wonder if you asked one of today’s teenage school kids “what happened on 9/11, 2001?” how many could answer correctly? My reaction was the similar to yours. One plane was an unfortunate aviation tragedy. Two planes was an intentional act of violence. The public’s reaction that they would be willing to give up some freedoms was understandable. They were reacting in fear. Understanding this attack was difficult. It was not an attack of one nation against us, as some had experienced in WW II.
    It was not a known or identifiable army or foe that explains attacks. People simply had no frame of reference. Today, many still do not understand it nor are hey able to articulate what it is or what it all means.

    It was an attack by a cadre if radical Muslims against Western civilization. The act, was a declaration of war by them against those they perceived to be infidels.

    The above definition will undoubtedly subject me to some sort of pejorative label but it is certainly a much more clear explanation than that has been provided by our leaders and our media who themselves cannot settle upon an answer. Remember, we were not supposed to say that they were Muslims even if they themselves said they were Muslims.

    Like so many other human events, this one is seemingly fading from the public memory before we have even come to terns with what it might represent.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Tragic event obviously.

    What lessons did we learn?

  3. Robert Berggren says:

    Not surprising that many people give up their liberties security. Our unity didn’t last long after all the flag waving .

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