Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, September 12, 2009 8:02 am

“For thou art with us … “

Filed under: I want my country back. — Lex @ 8:02 am

Every year on 9/11, I go back and read Sarah Bunting’s first-person account of being in lower Manhattan when the planes hit the towers, and her subsequent one-day odyssey home.

Like everyone else born before, say, 1997, I have my own memories of that day. But for the fact that they are mine, they are not remarkable. Unlike many with more compelling stories to tell, I lost no one on 9/11. Writing about my memories, at least now, seems like it would be the equivalent of coasting on someone else’s grief.

It’s not that I don’t grieve. I do. But I mourn more than just the loss of lives that day, though that loss was enormous.

I mourn what has happened since, as unity and a sense of national purpose gave way to divisive politics, a misbegotten military campaign and governmental lying and lawbreaking of such scope that a century from now historians will still be uncovering new evidence of misdeeds.

I mourn not only the blood but also the treasure — what we could have done for ourselves as taxpayers, or for the least among us, with much of the money we have spent since 9/11.

I mourn the loss of the opportunity to capture the man behind the attacks, the loss of the opportunity to show the world why we believe our system of justice is the best in history.

I mourn the lost opportunity to unite the world as it had not been united since World War II, and perhaps ever.

We tell ourselves that they attacked us because they hate us and that they hate us for our freedoms. And yet, in the wake of the attack, so many of us were willing to trade those freedoms for even the illusion of safety that it makes me wonder whether we are, or ever have been, as strong a nation as we like to think.

For true strength does not reside in the caliber of one’s weapons or the truculence of one’s public statements or the number of diplomatic bridges one is willing to burn.

No, true strength manifests itself in living out the principles we profess. True strength resides in our willingness to uphold the rule of law, to use force when we must and only when we must, to look out for one another, even across national borders, as we did in those days just after 9/11 and must re-learn to do before circumstances force it upon us once again.

No hijacked jetliner can destroy that strength. No terrorist can destroy that strength. The only people who can destroy that strength are We, the People.

But facing these realities isn’t the point of what Sars wrote. Her point was no more or less than her coming to grips with her own experience. She wrote about it to acknowledge it, to try to make real that which her mind had not yet accepted as real in the first hours after the attacks. And it matters because all of us, to a greater or lesser extent, had to fight the same battle and yet each of us had to do it by him/herself, alone but for his/her God, in his/her own way. Some of us fight it still.

That battle was important enough to be remembered, to be reminded of. That’s why I go back to Sars’s blog every 9/11. I’ve happily scampered over battlegrounds from Gettysburg to Cowpens before and no doubt will do so again, but for this one event, for me, re-reading Sars’ account is more meaningful, more of an honor to those who lost their lives, than trekking to a place I’ve never been to listen to someone speak in hushed tones about people I never knew.

And maybe this will be the year she finds Don.


1 Comment

  1. […] on this today. Some stuff  I’ve said about it in the past holds up pretty well, particularly this and some of this. If you want to skip the media orgy entirely but not ignore the occasion, then I […]

    Pingback by What we lost « Blog on the Run: Reloaded — Sunday, September 11, 2011 2:19 pm @ 2:19 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: