Today is the 7th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and attempt on Washington DC. Yet there are now children headed into 2nd grade classrooms who were not even born when it all happened.
My feelings are terribly mixed on the subject. Of course there is the indignation and sense of affront, the respect for the tremendous bravery of the mostly doomed rescuers and the sadness for the thousands of people who stood no chance in the buildings and in the air. Sometimes, as I schlep my bags and coffee aboard another early flight I think that about that day and the passengers just like myself, sleepy and a little grumpy, headed for the exit row, little suspecting what their day held for them.
However, there is another side to 9/11 that troubles me. The constant invoking of that day as an excuse to subvert and trample on the rights of law abiding citizens both at home and abroad. The egregious use of the attacks to trample on portions of the Constitution our forefathers fought so hard for. Their use as a partial justification for the war in Iraq. It seems barely a day goes by without some politician or official touting 9/11 as an explanation for some dubiously legal action.
Yet seven years later the almost mythical Osama bin Laden is still at large and the World Trade Center site is still a construction zone mired in politics, inter agency infighting and greed. A single "enemy combatant" has been tried in the US (and found guilty of lesser charges). Our forces are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan remains largely under Taliban and militia control. So called terrorist arrests in the US have turned into damp squibs and in the UK attempts to convict the liquid bombers have been frustrated. All we seem to have achieved is the creation of another huge government agency and the rightful suspicion of the civilized world around our use of off-shore prisons and interrogation methods.
In the seven years since the attacks, 9/11 our spirit of shared suffering has become a cause célèbre to be manipulated as needed to fit the political aspirations of the day. Perhaps that's the biggest and final tragedy?