Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11 - and looking ahead

Miriam Midkiff at Ancestories2 has posted a prompt for journaling about where you were on 11 September 2001 and your reactions to it. She has also posted her own thoughts from 12 September 2001 which are interesting.

The list of questions and my answers, with 20/20 hindsight, include:

1) How did you hear about the attacks of 9/11?

I watched them happen. I woke up at about 5:45 AM and turned the radio on to hear that the first tower was hit, jumped up and went in the family room, turned the TV on and watched in horror as the first tower burned, the second tower was hit and burned, the Pentagon was hit, Flight 93 went down, the second tower fell, and finally the first tower fell. My fear was that tens of thousands of people died.

2) What did you do that day? Did you go to work or school, or stay home?

I did go to work, arriving late, and doing a slow burn because I knew who did it. My first comment to someone was "someone will pay - it's either us or them - no mercy, we need to wipe out the terrorists." That may sound like I copied it from what W said soon after - but those were my thoughts and words.

Nobody could get any work done. Everybody was on the Internet and sharing information. We gathered in groups to talk about what happened. Some of our younger engineers are Iranian and Arab, and several came to me wondering what would happen. They asked what they should do now - they feared for their safety. My counsel was that they needed to keep cool, not inflame anybody's anger, gather together for safety, and sit tight until the original anger blows over. I said that there will be retribution against the terrorists, and that the people of this country respect the rights of everyone to assemble, worship, and speak. I asked them their opinion about what happened, and they said they were surprised at the audacity of the acts, and that they enjoyed living and working in America - kind of the best of both worlds.

3) What were your feelings?

My feelings have not changed over 6 years. I am still angry and sad, terribly so. Once we figured out that it was Al Qaeda, I knew that we had to take out their bases in Afghanistan, replace the Taliban, and go after other terrorist-supporting regimes in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, North Korea, Iran and wherever else they were.

4) How has what happened that day changed your life in some way?

My life has changed in several ways. I have a lot of anger over the lack of progress toward more security. I have fear for what might happen to my family members.

I went through the airport security system today in San Jose - and accepted the patdown and wanding without complaint. It also happens in many public buildings. Good. I watch more carefully what happens in public area - alert for suspicious people and actions.

The President and the FBI, CIA and NSA are collecting overseas phone calls to and from certain countries - I haven't called anyone there so the surveillance program hasn't touched me at all. I fully support it.

I know that the President and his administration are dedicated to protecting us from more terrorist acts. However, they haven't done enough yet - they haven't secured the borders, secured the ports, or found Osama Bin Laden and his fellow cave-dwellers. There should be nuclear and bomb detection equipment at every port-of-entry. I fully support a tamper-proof ID card for all citizens and non-citizens, including a biometric and fingerprint database for non-citizens, and the revised passport rules. The persons without proper records need to go back to their home countries voluntarily or by deportation and criminals need to be found and deported immediately. I support a time-limited probationary visa for illegals already in the country after IDing them, a guest-worker program with time limits and a path to citizenship only for those who go through proper application channels.

Several of these ideas were anathema to me before 9/11 - I said "live and let live." We can't do that now - if we are going to prevent terrorist acts we need those tools to prevent them. The inconvenience to law-abiding citizens is minimal.

Every day, I think "they want to destroy our way of life, and kill everyone who doesn't agree with them - we need to prevent that from happening." I support my President and every politician who has a realistic attitude toward this subject. I don't care if the terrorists are killed by us, by their home countries, or by other terrorists - the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist. We live in the 21st century, and they want all of us to live by their 8th century rules.

5) What are your hopes for the future, in connection with this tragedy?

I hope that the Islamic countries will come to their senses, realize that they cannot win a war with Western civilization, and educate and control their people in such a way that everyone can live and prosper together. If they can't, there will be a war of attrition until someone loses. The USA and Western countries cannot afford to lose any battle in this war. I doubt that we will pursue another ground war - the rest of them will be done from the air, sea and space. It may end up "us vs. them" - the problem will be who will Russia and China side with.

I hope that there will not be another mass casualty act of terrorism in this country - whether by nuclear device, large explosions, etc. We have stopped several of them, but our borders are still not protected.

I hope that the war in Iraq ends when the Al Qaeda terrorists and the Iranian infiltrators are killed off, and the people of Iraq realize that the USA is there to help them, not take their land, oil or freedoms. This will require a major mind change among them, especially the Shi'a who support Muqtada al-Sadr. It may take a partitioning of the country into three states with defensible borders and a split of the oil reserves.

We need to WIN the War on Terror. I hope that the American people realize that this is a "win it or lose it" war. A draw in Iraq or another country is a loss. Withdrawing from Iraq and leaving their people to a genocide is not honorable - it would be a loss to American prestige and reliability - we promised the Iraqis - again - that we would succeed. You cannot be "for America" if you are trying to please Osama Bin Laden and his supporters. I believe that a Republican administration will do a better job of WINNING the War on Terror than a Democratic administration. IMHO, some Defeatocrats would like nothing better than to withdraw to fortress America - with peace for all in a utopian world. Unfortunately, the only deterrent to force against us is force itself.

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Well, those are my feelings, thoughts and opinions. They have not changed since 9/11 and they never will. 9/11 is still raw for me, and I do have a personal stake in the War in Iraq.

Needless to say, genealogy research and family history sleuthing has been an oasis away from the real world of terrorism, Iraq, etc. I read a lot less about politics and world events - but I still read what I deem reliable sources - and do a lot more pleasure reading.

And now back to genealogy! After dinner and the ball game. Go Padres!

1 comment:

Miriam said...

Randy, should you and my husband ever meet, I think you would find that you both are two peas in a pod in your political views.

Thank you for sharing your personal recollections of that day. I hope you will preserve them for your descendants!