On this day, is it inappropriate to wish people a “Happy Nine Eleven”?
This was one of those moment where everyone knows where they were when it happened. Me, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Haiti at the time. The volunteers, who are usually scattered all over the country, happened to be together at a resort for a conference. One of the officers walked in and interrupted a talk on AIDS education to let us know that two planes flew into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, others were hijacked, and she wasn’t joking.
The conference was ended early for the day, and we went to watch CNN. After about 40 minutes, CNN was just looping the same footage of the moments of impact and people running from dust clouds, but we couldn’t tear ourselves away. I felt so far away and helpless in Haiti. Some of the other volunteers were crying hysterically, but it just didn’t sink in for me right away.
I remember CNN showing some night vision footage and telling us it was US planes bombing a location in Afghanistan in retaliation. Revenge was on most people’s minds, including President Bush. Even in the immediate wake of the carnage, I remember feeling that we as a nation must have done something to deserve this. I also felt like the best (and most difficult) thing we could do would be to forgive our attackers. Yes, we should raise our defenses as necessary, but we should forgive. It was our only viable option, but I knew Bush wouldn’t go that route. Emotions were running so high that he would have sounded weak. Forgiveness was the real F-word in those days. But the reality is, we, the original superpower, have overextended ourselves in the name of vindication for 7 years, and we can fight “terrorists” for another 7, but the attacks of 9-11 will never be avenged.