Sunday Opinion: Ten years later, a day of reflection

So no surprise here:  the weekend opinion pages are all about 9/11.  The most elegiac take on the terror attacks and what came after is in the Burlington Free Press, an editorial that reads like poetry.

Here’s the final bit, but I encourage you to read it through.

A flag raising among the rubble.

A send off for our troops.

A homecoming, but not for all.

We got Osama bin Laden.

We still mourn our dead.

We are still at war.

The Glens Falls Post-Star is equally poignant, with a letter about 9/11 addressed to our children:

In the decade since, we learned many things we didn’t know before. We learned about terrorist networks and governments intent on killing innocent victims, just to make a point about how we live. We learned that even when we all come together for one purpose, we don’t always agree on the methods or the goals.

As individuals and as a nation, we tested the limits of our own integrity, our own compassion, our own tolerance, our own sense of justice.

At times, we were shocked to discover that we did not always act as we would have liked. And we learned that as far as we’ve come, we still have far to go.

The Plattsburgh Press-Republican argues that the day of commemoration should be a day of unity.

Today, we should all put our flags out again and put politics aside. Forget Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, liberals, the tea party, debt ceilings, budgets — everything that upsets us about government.

We could instead spend some time thinking about what is still great about this country.

Mostly, we can remember that America is “we, the people,” and that we are still here and still strong.

The Watertown Daily Times, meanwhile, suggests that the nation use this opportunity to pivot and begin thinking about what comes next within our own borders.

While there have been no successful attacks 10 years later the time has come for America to look forward to creating a way of life that is not complacent at home or abroad, but is mindful that continued restriction of the free movement of people, of the opportunity to invest in the future, and inability of the political parties to have a civil debate from the middle of the political spectrum will leave this great country vulnerable to yet another attack from those outside of the mainstream of political thought.

The lesson of this decade teaches us that extremism should be pronounced dead.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise suggests that the next generation of kids, who’ve grown up in the shadow of 9/11, will be tough and resilient enough to take on those challenges.

This new generation is also coming of age at a time when, with 9 percent unemployment nationwide, they can’t expect to get jobs easily or make as much money as their predecessors.

But they’ve been preparing for the worst for 10 years, and they may be mentally tougher than any generation since the one that grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. Tom Brokaw famously called that “The Greatest Generation.”

This one could give them a run at that title. Talking with these kids gives us hope.

So there it is.  I found this weekend’s opinion pages particularly powerful, even beautiful.

I hope all of you find time to pause a bit and reflect through these years.  It’s been a tough, hard, bitter chapter in American life, but in sum I find myself sharing the pride and optimism found in these editorials.

As always, your thoughts, memories, opinions appreciated.

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12 Comments on “Sunday Opinion: Ten years later, a day of reflection”

  1. newt says:

    This anniversary to me, like George Packer (http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/npr/140364367/after-sept-11-a-missed-opportunity-for-america) marks 10 years of accelerated decline of the United States. Never have so few -19 who committed the hijackings, and perhaps a few hundred who facilitated them- done so much damage out of proportion to their numbers. This is not because of the acts themselves, but rather the way they took advantage of weaknesses in the American character, which, not surprisingly mirror the character defects of our leadership at that time. Incurious, we never seriously asked what motivated the terrorists, accepting Bush’s “because they hate freedom.” This, and our superficial piety and patriotism allowed the leadership to take us into one horribly mismanaged, if necessary war, and another one as pointless as it was self-destructive. Instead we sang some patriotic songs, accepted ofter-ridiculous security measures, and never questions Bush’s, true battle cry, “Everyone should go shopping”. Our media (NPR and PBS somewhat excepted) never seriously challenged the assumptions that led us into the Iraq disaster. 10 years later we are (except for the very rich) poorer, despised in many quarters because of the abuses symbolized by Abu Ghreb, and more politically polarized than ever. The War on Terror allowed Bush & Co. to run up the huge deficits that brought about the current political fiasco. Finally, according to a story that I recently heard, but cannot track down, on ATC, 9/11 also resulted in the transfer of several thousand FBI agents who had been working on white collar fraud cases to anti-terrorist work. Thus, 9/11 also resulted probably made the financial crisis much worse than it might have been, had those agents been in place at their original assignments. I honor the memory of the victims and and the military who suffered from 9/11, but our flawed national character prevented true self-reflection or sacrifice, I don’t think anything good, only bad, resulted from it.

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  2. Two Cents says:

    Newt-
    Amazing. Thank you.

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  3. PNElba says:

    Newt – I too have struggled to find some good resulting from 9/11. We need more editorials that reflect your thoughts.

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  4. Mervel says:

    You politicized the even as much as your obsession Bush, sick.

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  5. Mervel says:

    Why don’t we look at the actual events, look at the character the bravery of our people that day?

    I didn’t agree with much of what was done afterward, but some of it I did agree with and some of it is working, but here we go again instead of looking at these powerful things, we start out with Bush political obsession disease, Bush is GONE and has been GONE for going on 4 years, deal with it and move on, 9/11 is not about Bush.

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  6. newt says:

    My point was not obsess over Bush’s defects, but rather the defects of a nation that would elect, and then passively follow, such a shallow, and heedless person into military, then economic, disaster. I don’t blame Bush for being a near-idiot, I blame those that voted for him, as well as those who failed to mount a successful campaign to stop him (or rather, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and his other neo-con mentors).

    It is fine to recognize the bravery of many people on 9/11, and afterwards. But our America is a much-diminished nation ten years later, in spite of their sacrifices. In the post 9/11 months and years Americans failed to act intelligently and heroically, like the passengers of Flight 93 did , once the lies of those giving orders became evident. Ignoring this will not make it better, facing up to it might.

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  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Recognizing the reality that newt points out does not diminish the courageous and sometimes heroic acts of individuals on 9/11 and ever since. Just as the fact that the war in Iraq was unjustified does not in any way diminish the the honor that was accrued by those who swore an oath to serve and who did so often at great cost to themselves and their loved ones.

    Reality is multi-facetted. We should not ignore the facets that are inconvenient to our preferred perception.

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  8. Two Cents says:

    Newt is right on. The country only mirrors it’s leadership at the time.
    Sorry Merv, Moving on is one thing, but looking back over your shoulder is absolutely appropriate.
    Knuck is correct too, regardless of all that, the people of this country moved on carrying the burden of that administration. Some carrying much more of their share, and shouldering much more than Bush, or Cheney ever did, unless you count the weight of the gobs of money from Haliburton.

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  9. hermit thrush says:

    count me in too: what newt said.

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  10. Peter Hahn says:

    Newt is right on (also). 9/11 was similar in some ways to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – same order of magnitude of fatalities, but the big difference was that the Japanese military was a huge threat to the USA whereas Al Queda was (and remains) only a major nuisance (not an existential threat). Our leaders at the time whipped up war frenzy for their own reasons, but we, as Americans, didn’t have to go along with them (but we did). The result was that AlQueda succeeded much more than they deserved.

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  11. Mervel says:

    Okay instead of talking about 9/11 lets talk about the Obama war on terror.

    I mean newt we could say the exact same things about the heedless following of Obama based on faith and emotion instead of his qualifications and now results. What kind of a nation would do that, the guy is objectively no more qualified than Bush and I think we can see that in his dismal results. This denial of reality on the Left is seen with the Bush obsession disease, instead of looking at what is actually happening right now and what has happened since Obama and the Democrats took power three years ago. The inability to simply realize what a failure Obama has been is just as much of a delusion as electing Bush was. I notice that Gitmo is still open, I notice that we still have the Patriot act, I don’t see any big differences in these guys on the macro issues surrounding the “war on terror”.

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  12. Mervel says:

    You guys didn’t like Bush what are you going to do with President Perry?

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