Calling all Genea-Musings Fans:
Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music):
1) Today is September 11th, and the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States. Where were you, what were you doing, and how did it affect you?
2) Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or on Facebook. Be sure to leave a comment with a link to your blog post on this post.
I watched it happen on TV. 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 into 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.
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 were Iranian or 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.
I came home for lunch and went back to work the next day. I watched, with Linda, the television the rest of the day and for weeks to come, sad that so many people lost their lives, astonished at the bravery of first responders and the folks on Flight 93, and knowing that this event would change our country and our world.
My company had employees on trips around the world. The program leaders for my project at the time were in Baltimore, Maryland but they did have a rental car. The aircraft reservations were canceled of course for a period, but the four of them drove back to San Diego in three days. I had been going to Baltimore occasionally and was lucky to miss this trip.
Since then, I have become much more wary of suspicious people and activities in public areas. My son-in-law was in the Marines Reserve from 2000 to 2010, and served one tour in Iraq dodging bullets and car bombs. I worried every day he was over there.
Since then, I have known that "they want to destroy our way of life, and kill or subjugate everyone who doesn't agree with them - and we need to prevent that from happening." I support 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 IMHO. We live in the 21st century, and the terrorists want all of us to live by their 8th century rules.
The threat just became worse with the recent retreat from Afghanistan. Many of our politicians, the military leadership, and our intelligence services are corrupted by 9/10 thinking - "they are so poor, why do they hate us, let's try to be friends, give them the benefit of the doubt, most of them are moderate, maybe the moderates will take over their countries," etc. Hmmm, not yet! After 20 years you would think that we had learned the lessons of 9/11 well.
My belief is that we, as a nation, have not done enough yet to protect the homeland over the last 20 years. We haven't secured the borders, secured the ports, or have secure communications, cybersecurity, transportation and infrastructure. 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 revised visa and passport laws. The persons without proper identification records need to go back to their home countries voluntarily or by deportation. I support a time-limited probationary visa for undocumented migrants 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. Laws on the books should be enforced. The inconvenience to law-abiding citizens will be minimal.
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, and the political will to pursue them to protect our country. I want my grandchildren and their descendants to live in a free America with liberty and justice for all. I will NEVER FORGET this day and this event.