9-11-01 revisited

POSTNOTE: Chuck W sent his own blog commentary, which can be accessed here.


Today is the 22nd anniversary of 9-11-01.  It was a Tuesday.

Twin Towers New York City late June 1972. At this point, one of the towers had opened, the second was near complete.  Photo Dick Bernard

Over the years, I have written often about aspects of 9-11 and its profound impact on me, personally, but I wondered, this year, why the attention?  It is, after all, 22 years.  At the end of this post, unedited, is what I wrote on September 9, but didn’t post at the time.

My attitude changed last night, watching another National Geographic perspective, this segment. about Air Traffic controllers in the wake of the national catastrophe of 9-11-01.

I rarely fly, but planes remain almost a daily presence for me.  Ironically, in a recent post I included recollections about 9-11-01 and airplanes, including this: “My daily walking route is beneath several major flight paths.  A typical walk is punctuated at least a half dozen times by sounds of jet or other aircraft heading somewhere or other.  Not so, September 12 and 13, 2001.  The silence from above those days was truly deafening.  Yes, birds were chirping, and in other ways life seemed serene but no sound from the sky.  None.  The planes began to fly again and the silence ended.”  (This quotation is from the beginning of the final link at the end of this Aug. 22 post on Ukraine.)

What stuck with me last night was the air traffic controllers at Gander Newfoundland – a place that on a normal day dealt with (my recollection) 7 large aircraft landings, but on 9-11-01 had to handle 234 landings of major aircraft in a couple of hours, as it became apparent that planes were being used as weapons of terror, and the first response was to ground everything, everywhere, with planes in the air forced to go to other than major airports to diminish the risk to the greatest number of people.

The ATC’s at Gander and elsewhere did heroic work that day, and in my case were unsung until last night.  There were and are infinite repetitions of people working together every day, everywhere.  We all live on the same island.

I suspect that 9-11-01 will remain part of the national conversation than other similar catastrophes, and probably for good reason.  As I point out in my draft (below), there is lots for all of us to consider as we go forward into the rest of our lives.


Saturday night meant an entire evening revisiting 9-11-01 and its aftermath on the National Geographic Channel.

It was long and well done, as could be expected.

When it ended I asked myself the repetitive question I have asked over the past 22 years: what have we learned from the experience of 9-11-01?

What have each of us learned…what have I learned?

In a democracy, the “I” is most important.  Because each of us participate in setting the direction for our society.  The U.S. is US.

About a week ago I watched the new documentary: Escape from Kabul, about the end of U.S. presence in Afghanistan in August, 2021.   I highly recommend it.

Afghanistan was our initial target in response to 9-11-01.  We were there 20 years.

After the film I wrote a brief on-line review which I wish I had copied, to the effect that Afghanistan should represent an opportunity for all of us to learn.

My writing was the 7th review.  It was brief, it was non-partisan, it named no names or blamed no President.

I looked back later in the week, it had not passed muster with whomever controls what others see.  It apparently did not fit the preferred narrative.

So be it.

It’s now 22 years since 9-11-01. One of my grandkids was born about 8 months after 9-11; he graduated from high school in the terrible Covid year of 2020; he’s now in his senior year in college.

His cohort has seen it all in their lifetime.  I wonder how they will apply the lessons of the last 20 years to their lives.

I wish them well.

Commentary 4/20/2002: Afghanistan colum 4:2002001

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