I still don’t believe that the attacks on 9/11 happened. No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I know they happened. It’s just unbelievable.
There were major terrorist attacks committed on U.S. soil.
The Pentagon, the symbol of our nation’s military strength, had a hole in it.
The World Trade Center towers, mainstays of the New York skyline since my youth, had fallen.
It’s hard to believe.
Part of the abstractness I feel about the events came from how I learned about them. I was laid off in the summer of 2001, a victim of the dot-com bubble. I had just started a new job on September 4, 2001 and was still going through training and orientation. The trainer for the class that had started on September 10 was rather ditzy. I was annoyed because I felt I could learn the software better in a couple of days alone with the manual than I would learn from the full week of her instruction.
We were doing an exercise to review what we had learned on day one of class. The ten or so of us students were working silently on our computers, and the instructor checked her voice mail. I saw her usually obnoxiously perky face go sullen. I thought she must have had a death in the family. She announced to the class that planes had hit the Twin Towers in New York, and they had fallen down.
What? That doesn’t make any sense. Buildings don’t just fall down, you dummy. This woman is an idiot.
She dismissed class and we went back to our desks. People were huddled around computers looking at the video. Planes had hit the World Trade Center towers, and they fell down! A plane hit the Pentagon! A plane crashed 80 miles away! (I lived in Pittsburgh at this time.)
Another bit of the abstractness is that I was lucky enough not to have lost anyone in the attacks. I feel for the so many that did lose family, friends and coworkers, but I did not.
Still, I am impacted by 9/11.
I am impacted by how society changed. I am impacted by small minded people finding a new target for bigotry and blame in Muslims and others who look vaguely like they might be Muslim. I am impacted by the years of war, which subsequently meant the loss of more American lives and cost trillions of dollars that if not spent could have lessened the impact of the current recession. I am impacted by policies inspired more by fear than by risk such as the need for everyone to remove their shoes before entering an airport terminal because of one failed attack. (I’m a fan of theater but not when it’s security theater.)
So, yes, I know that the attacks on 9/11 happened, but I still don’t believe it.