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A Decade Later: Lessons Learned?

Updated on September 11, 2018
First our country was ripped in two by terrorists...
First our country was ripped in two by terrorists... | Source
Now it's being ripped in two by politicians.
Now it's being ripped in two by politicians.

My Daily Rant 9/4/11- updated 9/11/18


I originally wrote this piece in 2011. Now, in 2018....a lot has changed in my life, so I wanted to revisit this topic and see if much had changed. At the end of the day....it appears not.


Every generation has a "where were you" moment. For some, it was Pearl Harbor. For some, the assassination of JFK. For some, the death of Elvis. For my generation, it was 9/11. Ask anyone around you what they were doing on the day of 9/11, and I guarantee they will be able to tell you. Even those people like myself, thousands of miles away from the event itself, and not having known anyone killed in the attack, I still remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I remember it was a Tuesday. I remember that it was a beautifully crisp, clear, Indian Summer kind of morning. And I remember the sense of dread and foreboding that hung in the air that entire day, telling us all that nothing would ever be the same. I had celebrated my first wedding anniversary the night before, and in one instant, a morning in which the world had felt full of the promise of future, that world suddenly seemed fraught with uncertainty and fear. I remember how the day seemed to drag on forever. How everything moved in slow motion and at mach speed all at once. It felt like the Twilight zone. I remember the mall in which I worked closing (something that flat out NEVER happened) and my boss making everyone stay, excited over how much we would get done. I remember thinking how callous and unbelievable some people were. How even in the midst of the greatest tragedy my generation has ever seen, the bottom line was still the most important thing.

I also remember how in the days following the attacks, America seemed to come together in a fascinating show of unity and patriotism. You couldn't go anywhere without seeing a flag pin on their lapel. We couldn't keep flag pins, display flags, or pretty much anything "Americana" on the shelves of the gift and home decor boutique where I worked. People were eager to show the world that they were proud of their country and that they would defend this great nation with vigor and an undying love. Patriotic songs were recorded overnight and began to flood the radio stations. Men and women flocked to military recruiting stations, eager to do what they could to help in the "Fight against terror".

Over the next decade, the stories of so many thousands would come out of the woodwork. Stories of survivors, stories of tragic lives lost, stories of heroes. After a little more time, stories of what really happened, who really knew what, and what some will call conspiracy theories emerged. Ten years later, I don't think anyone really knows with certainty what really happened on that crisp September day, but I know that for me, the way I felt about things has changed dramatically. I no longer accept things at face value. I no longer believe everything I hear from the talking heads on TV. I try my hardest to gather information from differing sources and sides and form my own opinion from the evidence and facts before me. I do know one thing. What happened on September 11, 2001 was horrific. It was an act of terror. But the real question is, did we learn anything?

Over the weekend, I watched a beautifully produced documentary on the memorial being built, hopefully in time for the 10th anniversary. (A link is provided below). The stories of the workers busting their humps to raise this building from the ashes, commemorate those lost, and show the world that we will not be defeated, are truly the epitome of American Spirit. But while watching the rebuild with pride and a lump in my throat, I couldn't help feeling that the one good thing that came from 9/11 seems to be disappearing rapidly. Unity. That sense of being one. Over the last few years, our country seems to have split further and further down the middle. It's as if the planes are hitting our country again, ripping things in two, exploding, sending people jumping from buildings in despair. Our own government can't get along. You can't hear an intelligent debate anymore. No one seems to know the answer to anything, except that it's the other guy's fault.

While everyone can agree that travel and security in general did a complete 360 after 9/11, are we really any safer? Some feel that we are. Some feel that the lessons we learned on 9/11, the task forces put in to place, etc. will serve to protect our country from ever having to face a terrorist attack like that again. But what are we doing to protect this country from internal combustion? While terrorists with box knives may not bring us down again, will we bring it down ourselves?

As I reflect on the past decade of my life, and think about the lessons learned from 9/11, those are the things I think about. My oldest daughter was 2 on the day of the attacks, my youngest not yet born. When they are grown, what will they think about the lessons learned from 9/11? Will they think we took the tragedy and turned it into something that made this nation stronger and better? Will they even make it that far? My fear is that we will tear this country apart at the seams before then. I hope to heck I'm wrong.

On the 10th Anniversary of the darkest day in my history, I will quietly reflect on all that was lost. I will swallow that lump in my throat that I imagine most Americans will feel that day. And I will continue to hope that we learned the right lessons.

Where Were You?

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    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 

      8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      I believe that many of us learned something from this tragedy. We need to come together all of the time and not just for a few days, when tragedy happens. Thank you for sharing your trip down memory lane and what direction we should still be going. You are an inspiration! :)

    • sunflowerbucky profile imageAUTHOR

      sunflowerbucky 

      8 years ago from Small Town, USA

      Thanks, Wayne! I agree wholeheartedly!

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Your observations are correct, Bucky...we are being ripped apart from the inside by those who want us to disagree realizing that our inability to come together as a people is our Achilles Heel of sorts. America has become the land of entitlement for far too many and we now have leaders willing to play on that for votes which ultimate support the dismantling of all that has made us a great nation. We really need to make 9/11 a day when we, as a country, pull together and help each other if we are to survive very long into the future. Nice work here! WB

    • sunflowerbucky profile imageAUTHOR

      sunflowerbucky 

      8 years ago from Small Town, USA

      Winsome: That should win the comment of the year award. You so "got" what I was trying to say. In the months after the attacks, we all figured out what it was to be Americans. Now we're just acting like a bunch of spoiled little brats. Thank you so much for your insightful commentary!

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 

      8 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hey Bucky, I noticed that after 9/11 everyone was nicer to each other, there was unity in mourning and our patriotic sense was heightened. It lasted longer than I expected and there was total support of marshaling our forces for a Taliban strike. I am not sure our aim was perfect and we made some mistakes, but there is no doubt in the terrorists mind that if you stir up the American hornets nest, we will swarm and we will sting.

      In the years following, the swarm has polarized into nonsensical versions of right and left and the leaders are taking advantage of our lack of unity.

      Thomas L. Fieldman has written a book: That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back. I heard him being interviewed and he said that other, more vigorous economy leaders in the world point to our self preoccupied, entitled attitudes and say we are not listening to the world.

      I agree. We need to listen to each other, find a need and fill it like we used to. None of the people in the towers talked about our differences and how we need to further a political system of thought--every one of them talked to their loved ones and focused on what was important while our heroes battled the flames to help them.

      I say remember the lessons of 9/11--Focus on the important, everyone pitch in and dig our country out of its self-inflicted wounds, and stand up tall.

      It's not the height of our buildings or the numbers in our stock market that determines our greatness, it is the strength of our character and the determination of our spirit. I am at times conservative and liberal, saint and sinner, at times a hawk and at times a dove, but at all times I am an American and I'm ready to stand up and be counted. =:)

    • shampa sadhya profile image

      Shampa Sadhya 

      8 years ago from NEW DELHI, INDIA

      A NICELY WRITTEN HUB WHICH MAKES A STRONG IMPACT. TODAY A FEW HOURS AGO AT THE HIGH COURT GATE IN NEW DELHI, INDIA, A BOMB BLAST OCCURRED AND YOU CAN MAKE OUT WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE MINDS OF THE INDIAN PEOPLE. NO SYMPATHETIC LECTURES CAN CONSOLE THE HEARTS OF PEOPLE. WE NEED ACTION. VOTED UP AND BEAUTIFUL.

    • sunflowerbucky profile imageAUTHOR

      sunflowerbucky 

      8 years ago from Small Town, USA

      Bonnie: Thanks so much!

      Bpop: our "esteemed" leaders seem to be the ones who learned the least from the tragedy. They have only gotten more power hungry and idiotic over the past 10 years!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      8 years ago

      The American people may have learned the lessons of 9/11 but our esteemed leaders would be very happy to see us all forget that it ever happened. Mayor Bloomberg has hijacked the ceremony and taken it away from the families of the victims. He should hang his head in shame along withe president who re-named the day almost as soon as he took office. This day is about America and it is a day of remembrance not service.

    • profile image

      Bonnie 

      8 years ago

      Thank oyu ny Christie , I lived in Hagerman had got home from work and for some reason had not got to bed and I so remember just staring in disbelief and tears for everyone and thanking God for our country and asking for protection for all and yet so in shock.

      I love this post I think its one of your best and I am so proud of you .

      Love MOM BONNIE

    • sunflowerbucky profile imageAUTHOR

      sunflowerbucky 

      8 years ago from Small Town, USA

      dungeonraider: Voters are definitely going to have to become more informed. And they're going to actually have to do a little legwork rather than just listening to the talking heads on tv!

      psychicdog: Your ideas are definitely valid for our internal conflicts. We absolutely have to get rid of hatred within. It won't work against terrorists, though. You can't reason with them. They don't have the same belief system as we do, much like Willstar is pointing out. However, the point I was trying to make with this hub, that everyone seems to have missed, is what we are doing to each other. I have no question as to what needs to be done about the terrorists. But the way we deal with terrorists and the way we deal with our fellow Americans is different. My point was the division we face among our own ranks. We have lost the unity we had in the wake of 9/11, and that is what worried me most.

      FitnessJim: It sounds like you were right near the tragedy. I imagine the memories of that day must still haunt you. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 

      8 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      I got to work late that day. Some coworkers were in the parking lot taking a smoke break, and asked me if I had seen the low flying plane that had just gone over. I had not, but suggested figuring out who to call in DC to let them know a plane might be in trouble, but none of us had any idea where to begin, so we went into work and thought nothing more about it. Until they sent us home.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Radical Islamic terrorism is not about revenge or imagined wrongs. It's about a religious zealotry that demands either total, worldwide submission to Islam or death.

      There's no alternative to their way of thinking, so 'being nice', or using kid gloves is exactly the wrong approach. That signals weakness, and that's why Osama bin Laden called us a paper tiger.

      The only thing radical Islam respects is strength, and the ability to fight back.

      To avoid questions about Allah not protecting the likes of Osama bin laden, the zealots simply assign martyr status.

    • psychicdog.net profile image

      psychicdog.net 

      8 years ago

      I was in a carpentry class on that day and my sister rang to ask me if I had seen what was going on on the television. Lest we forget - hopefully the thinking that led to 9/11 has also passed - that's where technology, communication and internationalization helps - when everyone gets to know everyone else and realizes we are all people. Also the upcoming generation needs to be treated with kid gloves - not humiliated - because I believe that is where the 'revenge' stupidity starts - always make up and have a forgiving nature as the old saying goes 'never let the sun set on your anger!' So flee from hate!

    • dungeonraider profile image

      Jason Marovich 

      8 years ago from United States

      Maybe we need another '60s. Where can I sign up?

      I think that we all need to keep cool heads while demanding accountability from those sent by us to be our voice. Political parties and other influences (think power and money) will destroy the foundations upon which our representative government was built. Its the Information Age. Americans should attain the information they need to make sound votes. It sometimes takes a nation of listeners to fix a country, rather than what we have now, which is much louder :D

    • sunflowerbucky profile imageAUTHOR

      sunflowerbucky 

      8 years ago from Small Town, USA

      I think we're safer from outside attacks for sure, dungeonraider. What we are not safe from is ourselves. We've become our own worst enemy. The dissension among Americans is so great right now, that it truly frightens me.

    • dungeonraider profile image

      Jason Marovich 

      8 years ago from United States

      I remember hearing that one fighter had actually scrambled anywhere near D.C. that day, and how shocked I was to hear that. After ten years to mull it over, its hard for me to blame anybody in charge of protecting us for a scenario that was pretty outrageous to conceive. We are safer in the US today because of the attacks. If our intelligence community stays on top of whats going on out there, without hurting our international standing (anymore than it has been already), I think we'll be as safe as anybody can be in this world we live in.

    • sunflowerbucky profile imageAUTHOR

      sunflowerbucky 

      8 years ago from Small Town, USA

      I imagine they wouldn't have.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I can't disagree. The terrorists trained during the Clinton administration and attacked during the Bush administration, an unforgivable intelligence breach for both.

      Having said that, both Clinton and Bush are patriotic Americans and would never have sat in Jeremiah Wright's pews for a moment.

    • sunflowerbucky profile imageAUTHOR

      sunflowerbucky 

      8 years ago from Small Town, USA

      I would blame the members of our government who had ample warning (at the least, if not prior knowledge) and allowed it to happen. That being said, I don't find it coincidence that the presidential election after the attacks brought us an unpatriotic America hater. Coincidence? I don't think so.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      BTW, sunflowerbucky, which Americans would you blame for the attack?

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      The point is, America-hating Jeremiah Wright was Barack Hussein Obama's pastor for twenty years, preaching anti-American hatred from the pulpit with Obama sitting there!

    • sunflowerbucky profile imageAUTHOR

      sunflowerbucky 

      8 years ago from Small Town, USA

      @WillStarr: I think a lot of people were to blame for the attacks, many Americans included. However, I think the sad thing is that a moment of hatred that forever changed our nation has only bred more hatred.

      @sen.sush23: I think patriotism and humanitarianism (is that a word?) should go hand in hand. Unfortunately, Americans are too power hungry for that to ever happen. Which to me, is the lesson that was lost on us from 9/11.

      Sheila: I do think this woke us up to big brother a bit. I just fear it happened too late. And too many people still fail to see that. In my opinion, our own government had a lot to do with 9/11.

      @Texasbeta: thanks for stopping by and for the new follow! I think the bitter hatred between conservatives and liberals is another of the lessons lost on Americans. I think rather than bridging that gap, we've only widened it since 9/11, which will ultimately be the demise of this great nation.

      @Manthy: and thank you for reading! Much appreciated!

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 

      8 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Thanks for the good hub, Have a great week

    • profile image

      Texasbeta 

      8 years ago

      Will, you forget people of your ilk like John Hagee who claimed we brought it upon ourselves for allowing gays to get married. Don't be ridiculous. Nobody this attractive and thoughtful could possibly be as partisan as you sir. This is a nice hub, why bring the filth into it?

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      Right after 9/11, 'if you see something, say something' was the NY way. About 9 years later, the DHS began using that saying to encourage people to report their friends and neighbors for not paying taxes, etc. This tells me the govenment has learned something - they can get away with anything in the name of security. As for we the people, I think we've learned a great deal, which is why we are so against big brother government. And we know we don't have much longer if we are to save this country.

    • sen.sush23 profile image

      Sushmita 

      8 years ago from Kolkata, India

      Terrorist acts anywhere in the world is condemnable. The humane manner of reaction is to deplore prejudices and plows to tear the world into factions - based on religion, language or economic power. Past the 21st century if we want to see a future for our children, we must learn to feel more humanitarian than patriotic.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Most Americans are still angry, but there are those, mostly on the left, who now blame America for the attacks, by claiming we brought it upon ourselves. One of the most vocal is Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's minister of twenty years.

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