Fourteen Years Later: How Can We Ever Forget September 11, 2001?

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A Day That Will Live in Infamy

The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson

WASHINGTON, D.C. – I woke up this morning with a fitful start. It promised to be a depressing day.

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A flag at Ground Zero

But it was a beautiful morning in the campground thanks to a cool front that passed through the region with a little rain on Thursday, lowering the humidity to bearable for this time of year in the nation’s capital, so things began looking up with the first cup of coffee.

Then I switched from the Internet on the computer to free HD broadcast TeeVee, just in time to see President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle observing a moment of silence on the White House lawn. I had not even thought of 9/11, now on a different quest than on that horrifying, fateful day 14 years ago.

I’m still reluctant to talk about where I was and what I was doing on September 11, 2001. I tell the whole story in my book Get On The Bus, which should be edited and ready to release soon. Suffice to say I was in New Orleans teaching journalism at Loyola University and had just finished a draft of a doctoral dissertation to finish a Ph.D. program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The timing of that event and the stress on our entire society because of the attacks changed my life like many other people affected in myriad ways.

But it was not all bad in retrospect. I had the best semester in the classroom out of my decade-long teaching career, mainly because every student showed up for class highly interested in the news.

Let’s face it. The 1990s was not the best era in our history for the news business, even though the owners of the chain newspapers might argue with that. Companies like Newhouse made a ton of money off of sensational crime and celebrity news in those days. The decade started well enough with some of the first full-time coverage of the environment in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound. But by the first Gulf War, the corporate backlash against that kind of journalism took its toll.

Enter Michael Jackson sex scandals, the OJ murder case, then poor little Monica Lewinsky, who became famous but nearly brought down one of the best (if flawed) president’s we’ve ever had, at least in my lifetime.

CNN became a household word in the early 1990s, thanks to its coverage of the first Gulf War. Then it used that power and prestige to help turn our country into a politically divided house of cards, more interested in celebrity gossip and sensational crime than solving real problems. Another wise president once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

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A new tower at Ground Zero

How we are still standing is a mystery to me, after all the carnage caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s corrupt elevation of George W. Bush to the White House in 2000 and everything that has followed, from 9/11 to the ill-conceived war in Iraq to the abandonment of the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Then came the announcement of the Bush Great Recession and the blowout disaster of BP’s Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.

While Bush’s elevation (not election) appeared to be the final victory of the Confederacy taking over the United States of America, we had a chance to come back and change all that. President Obama’s election in 2008 appeared to be a new chance for a new birth of freedom and for more moderate forces in the Union to once again take back America and make it work again.

Unfortunately, we are more divided than ever and nothing shows that any more than the two presidential candidates who are getting the most attention, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Please forgive my cynicism. But I do not think either one of them will ever occupy the White House.

There was a time when I seemed to have a crystal ball and be able to predict what would happen in elections. I have been betting for the past two years that this race would inevitably come down to a contest between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. I figured with all the baggage Clinton was carrying on her back as fodder for Fox News, Jeb had a real chance to win and take us back to the policies that came as close as anything to destroying us as a country. Anything since his brother was in charge, and since the Confederacy waged a stupid war for slavery that nearly ended this experiment in government by the people 150 years ago this year.

Now I am at a bit of a loss and do not know what will happen next. Maybe I should head over to College Park and get on the Metro and take a ride downtown with my Nikon to see if a tour of DC on the 14th anniversary of 9/11 might shed some light on the situation.

I’ve been trying to watch some of the remastered documentary on the Civil War by Kens Burns on public television this week, but it has been hard to concentrate.

I do know one thing. No matter what else happens, I am going to try to make it up to Gettysburg before my journey is over. I don’t know what I will encounter, learn or feel there, but I feel compelled to make the trip. Check back soon to find out.

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Underground at Ground Zero, 2007. New York, NY – Copyright Glynn Wilson

© 2015, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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