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(This is cross posted to the FESS Blog; I'm posting this here because I think it's very inspired writing. No one will give a shit, because it doesn't talk about anime or tits, but I accept that. I know what I'm capable of when I'm motivated, even if most of the people that read this aren't capable of grasping just what the fuck I'm saying. I'll cut both parts.)

Everyone in any country that gets electricity - even those that couldn't give two shits about it - is about to hear, in a week or two, ad-fucking-nauseum, how September 11 of this year is the five year anniversary of when the World Trade Centre got struck by two planes and fell down, ending thousands of lives, directly affecting others, and killing America's innocence like a sorority girl getting gang-raped after drinking a tainted glass of party punch (naturally, of course, the attack on the Pentagon will be blissfully ignored, as it does not sell as many papers as the Towers. Fuck the Pentagon! No one cares about it). We will hear how America responded SO BRAVELY to the attacks (by bombing and conquering... Iraq?), how HORRIBLE it was throughout the country (most people west of Ohio were as directly affected as you can be by... not watching the NFL for a week), to how PATRIOTIC America became (More like xenophobic; you were either with or against us, and still are. And apparently, we really needed a major catastrophe to make us care about one another...), and finally, what's REALLY CHANGED since that fateful day (we're attacking old ladies with nail clippers, and making flying as unpleasant as possible. But we're not racially profiling, because we could hurt someone's feelings. Make up your minds?).

Everyone likes to express their horror, and shock, and all these other feelings, when talking about September 11, 2001; it truly is the Kennedy Assassination of our generation (another issue with more conspiracies attached to it than Area 51, but that's another story...). Me? I remember most of that day very vividly... but my interpritation of it is a little bit... different. My perspective can't really be understood. I was delightfully detached from all of the emotion, and that's something I'm assuming most people can't understand.

So join me as I describe my Sept. 11, 2001. Buckle up, it's long; I expect to see a lot of tl;dr. It won't all be talking about 9/11, though... think of it as a coda to my career up to that point. And I want to get my own words out before everyone else does, because in a week or two, it will be the "cool" thing to do.

Backstory: My ship - the USS George Washington (CVN 73, Aircraft Carrier based out of Norfolk, Virginia) had just come out of it's shipyard period. Shipyards are grimey places, and it's hard to live on the ship when you're in the shipyards because nothing's accessible and everything's dirty, but it DID mean six months on shore, guaranteed... so I didn't mind it too much. Now that we were out of the Shipyards, the good news is that our ship was going back to Norfolk Naval Base, a top notch facility that had neumerous large gyms, fast food places on the base that didn't close before 5PM (including a McDonalds on the piers that was open from 5AM to 3AM. Score!), a small 9 hole golf course, and other neumerous amenities. The bad news is that we were now embroiled in work-ups. Work-ups are periods where you go out to see for a few days to a few weeks, test shit out (in case something went wrong in the shipyards; can't have shit falling apart during wartime), and go back for a few weeks, before doing it again. The week of 9/11 was our first workup; we were supposed to be out to see for three days. Cue the Gilligan's Island "Three Hour Tour" theme.

The first thing I remember about that morning is that I was furious. Like, throw tools pissed. My shop's supervisor - Thomas Rubscha, who could either be the greatest person to ever work for, or the biggest fucking asshole to ever work for - was having an "Asshole" day, and decided he was going to find any button he could to push of mine. It worked, and I went to clean one of my elevator spaces just absolutely ripped pissed, the kind of pissed that would later embolden me to hit him in the head with a coffee can (and NOT get demoted in rank, a testament to how good a supervisor he really was). A friend of mine had watch, and came into my space to ask what I was pissed about; Joe Doak. We talked for a minute, then at the end of the conversation, he mentioned, very casually, "Dude, fuckin' they just fuckin' bombed the fuckin' World Trade Centre!" (Doak and I were different. Joe and I both used the word "fuck" like artists. Whereas I am a landscape painter with my brushlike usage of the word, Joe was more like those guys that just throw buckets of paint at the canvas and call it an "expression"). Naturally, this took me aback! "Huh... first time in... oh, eight years!" I went back to cleaning, not really caring about the bomb, and after five minutes, decided that it might be a good chance to pop into the shop - maybe the last place I wanted to be - and see what was happening.

EVERYONE was in the shop; I was the last one to come in. We had heard that it wasn't a bomb, but rather, an AIRPLANE that had crashed into the tower. Our first reactions were "what the fuck was a plane doing that low?", it didn't occur to us that it could have been hijacked. While people were talking, and pouring out of the second tower, the first one smoked, with a huge hole in it. I was talking to someone, when someone else yelled out "HOLY SHIT ANOTHER PLANE!", and I turned just in time to see the second plane literally hit the second tower. THAT got my attention, but even then, it was less shocking than surreal; it was like we were watching a movie. It would not strike me that two airplanes had just crashed into the World Trade Centre; the moment was truly lost on me. During this time, one of the ship's photographers (they are ship's company in the Navy, and they do perform important tasks, not just journalism) came into the shop, asking if she could take pictures to maybe gauge reactions to this catastrophe. Now, I hated journalists for the same reasons I hated yeomen and other white collar workers: as a machinist, I was constantly filthy, constantly having to buy new uniforms that I didn't have the money to buy, and worst of all, constantly being told that I couldn't go anywhere on the ship because I was dirty. "Go around", "go up and over", and "you can't come here looking like THAT" were common words, and insulting words, as I had no way of not looking like that, but worst of all, it was the white collars that did it. It got to the point where I would intentionally bump into someone in a brand new uniform on purpose just to fuck up the uniform, and make them feel my own pain. I truly hated them. So when I saw this photographer - Summer Anderson, I believe - come into my shop, and ask us to make way so she could snap pictures, my reaction could be considered gauged...

"Sure! Come on in! Here, have my chair! You need anything else?"

Because as much as I disliked photographers and other white-collar jobs, I DID have priorities, and the fact of the matter is that I wanted to fuck Summer Anderson. She was a bit of a rigid, conservative woman, which I think made it more attractive for a rogue like me; I wanted to do things to her that she had likely never heard of to that point. And even as my life, and the lives of everyone in the country, were being changed forever, I still had the foresight, and the presence of mind, to try to brownnose this girl, with an eye on getting into her pants in the future. Sex was more important to me at that time than the people that were literally jumping out of the towers to their deaths.

A little bit later, as Summer took pictures, I tried to talk to her, and the rest of my shopmates - friends one and all, and people that would never, ever keep a man from easy pussy - trying to help me in my noble cause, the towers went down. This REALLY got my attention... holy shit, the World Trade Centre just collapsed... and that that moment, I had a very sobering though come into my mind...

"I guess I better get ready for anchor detail."

Anchor detail was the best duty you could get as a hydraulic mechanic, in my opinion. You had to really know your equipment, yes, but basically, not much could go wrong (but if it did, you were most likely going to die), the work itself was cush to the point where you could spend a lot of time catching up on reading and Game Boy playing, and to top it off, you were considered "essential" company, and entitled to the hookups and connections that came with such territory. And I was recognised as the #1 anchor windlass expert on the Washington; I knew that at this moment, I was a God, despite the fact that at this time, I was still a low rank (I had started calling myself the "Anchor God" a few months prior, and only half joking). So I looked at Rubscha, and just said "should I go?", he told me "wait until we get the call", and five seconds later, the phone rang. Caller ID told me that it was the main "A" division office, and that it was time to go. So I walked up to the Anchor - other end of the ship - feeling very important, and ready to kick some ass. Due to the nature of the situation, I DID have the foresight... to leave the Game Boy in the shop. I'm not a COMPLETE moron, I knew there would likely be officers all over the place.

The anchor evolution in itself went uneventfully; as I got to the machinery room, the Captain came on and explained the situation: the Twin Towers had fallen, and to top that off, another plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and yet another into a field in Pennsylvania, one that was rumoured to have been downed by the passengers of the plane. It was being reported that this was also a likely terrorist plot. In response, we were heading (predictably) to New York Harbour, to fly our planes overhead to shoot down anyone else coming around, hence the need for anchor evolution. Once we got there, I decided to take a little peek outside, onto the flight deck.

The air was filled with the black smoke from the towers. I could see fires smoldering on the shore. David Cross likened it to "tires and skunks", the smell, and I think I can correlate with that, even many miles off the shore of the harbour. And right then and there, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach... another sobering thought...

"Fuck... we're definately not going home on Thursday..."

I knew that we could be stuck out there for a while. And that's what was most distressing to me of all, though the more I look back on it, I think it was because for all we knew, we could get sent to the Persian Gulf that very day, we just didn't know. But either way, I knew that my weekend of pussy definately wasn't happening, and as a sailor, that's all I could really concentrate on; it didn't hit me just how much had happened that day. We talked about it, but it was pure scuttlebutt; we talked about the collapsing of the Trade Centre and the plane going into the Pentagon as if we were talking about a guy and a girl that got caught fucking in a storeroom somewhere; nothing but gossip. It didn't even really occur to me the scope of what was going on... until we went back home, two and a half weeks after we were supposed to.

Simply put, the country WAS different. People were nervous, to the point of being panicked about everything. Security was unbelievable, and everyone was getting everything short of a cavity search. Our own liberties were not quite restricted, but we were trained very heavily to watch out for suspicious items, and the Captain was cracking down on people for off the ship offenses. Meanwhile, everything turned into a political clusterfuck. We looked for any kind of word from the government we could find... and they told us to buy duct tape. All we, as sailors, knew was a couple things: 1) we were leaving early for our deployment, and 2) we might not come home for a long time. The threat of having our enlistment's extended beyond what we were expected to do was also a fear; superiors liked to tease us by telling us "Yep! The Needs of the Navy! We can fuck you as much as we want!". Then they would laugh, and guys like me - who couldn't wait to get out of the service - would clean the shit out of our pants.

----------------------------------------------------


So, what has happened since 9/11/2001? We started fighting in Afghanistan, and then did an about-face, and invaded Iraq. We were told it was because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but that was proven to be a lie. Meanwhile, to assuage the common peoples' fears about terror, the Homeland Security division was started, and they immediately brought forth... a colour bar. Depending on the threat level, the bar would go from blue/green (whatever; either way, nothing's wrong) to red (HIDE! RUN! FLEE!!! KILL THE NEAREST BROWN PERSON!!!!). Since it was initiated, it never went below "normal", and - in what an optimist would call "conveinient", and a pessimist would call "politicial fearmongering and grandstanding" - would usually happen to go up to yellow whenever something bad politically happened to the Republican party. The Patriot Act was passed with little resistance, and became the #1 violation of our fundamental rights to personal privacy as a people. Meanwhile, citizens were reminded constantly that the "terrorists" could attack at any minute, at any time. We were told to be suspicious of one another, and to always be looking at other people with a slanted eye, with the excuse of "well, if you're doing nothing WRONG, you have nothing to be afraid of! Don't you think so? Terrorist?". People started getting into other peoples' business as if they had the right, with the Government's approval. Fearmongering became a political tool. Somehow, people were made to believe that if George W. Bush - a man who I believe should be executed for the war crimes he's commited in Iraq - wasn't in charge on September 11th, it would have been worse, instead of realising "hey fucknuts! You had all this information at your disposal, and decided to sit around watching Hee Haw! You were in charge when this happened, it's YOUR fault!". It worked to the point where yet another election - 2004 - was effectively stolen. Instead of people being told "We have nothing to fear but fear itself", they were now being told "always be alert! Be afraid! They could come back!". And anyone that disagrees has been slandered and labeled as being "Un-American", in shades of McCarthyism. Assimilate or be removed. Orwellian to the extreme. If you don't do what you're told by a man that's been shown to be a liar on half of what he says, the terrorists win. Terrorists have become the new Communists.

And what used to be written off as conspiracy theory and paranoia is now being regarded as nothing more than cautionistic apprehensiveness. When the story broke that terrorists were planning on using liquid ingredients to blow up five planes coming from London, 65% of the people I talked to that day said the same thing: "Bullshit! They're just doing that because of the falling poll numbers! They're lying!". And the sadder thing still is that the governent - which had a free pass for just about anything after 9/11 and blew it - has well earned that kind of paranoia against it's actions. Not since the late 60s has there been a political arena like this. Back then, we went from Johnson to Nixon... Johnson was a douchebag. I shudder to think that we have the potential to get a worse leader than Bush.

Our people are eternally fearful, and our elected leaders - leaders in title only - are riding that crest of fear all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue. Meanwhile, we have over extended troops on shore and sea that can't go home, and really ARE getting their enlistments extended beyond what they want. Morale in the armed services is approaching Vietnam era lows, which is sad, considering this is an all-Volunteer service. Soldiers who have to look at every civilian suspiciously - man, woman, child, doesn't matter - because they could be a bomb, they're finally starting to snap, with results like Haditha, the My Lai of our time. Ground troops can't even buy their own body armour, and challenges to the man responsible for this - Donald Rumsfeld, the most pompous, arrogant, and yet incompetant leader I've ever seen - are only greated with rhetorical questions, and - when that doesn't work - flat-out bullying. Bullying of career generals by a man that was one-and-done as a Naval officer.

As for myself, I got lucky; I was in a "non-essential" job specialty, and was able to get out at my four year mark. Three days after I was promoted to Second Class Petty Officer (equivalent to a Seargeant), I left Virginia, and have not returned since. I did another six months in the Persian Gulf, and another four months in Kuwait, where thankfully, I did not have to sit through any firefights (Just a LOT of drills in Kuwait; it was like an endurance test for how little sleep one could run on, and how angry one could make their people). I have lost friends in this war, but thankfully, no one I considered imperitavely close to me. I lost no one at the Pentagon or the World Trade Centre, and for that, I am thankful.

But I feel like I - we - lost our grip on our own country. 9/11 has turned into a debacle in every sense of the word. It can not be compared to Pearl Harbour. Pearl Harbour was an organised sneak attack, yes, but it make our nation come together. It made us stronger, and increased our resolve. We're not the same people that they - the Greatest Generation - were. We're softer now. More docile. More selfish. 9/11 truly rattled us. It made us paranoid, and scared, but yet, no one wants to do anything about it. As long as their own existance isn't affected, they don't care. And it makes me wonder if truly, "the terrorists won". This was a security disaster, a humanity disaster, and finally, a political disaster.

And it makes me wish for a more innocent time, when all I cared about was fucking Summer Anderson.

EDIT: As I wrote this, I noticed my tone changed. I started this off with every intention of being funny. But once I got to what's happened since 9/11/01, I got angrier, and it came out in my writing. I don't think there's any way to change it, to be honest; it really is a reflection of my attitude - and the general attitude of most of the world - towards our country and our government in the five years that have passed.

I think that's very telling. Maybe more telling than the multitude of paragraphs that precede this statement.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
yubsie
Aug. 28th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
... The thought of a worse leader than Bush is really frightening.

And the thought of morale in an all volunteer service falling to the level it was when there was a DRAFT? That takes doing.
hezul
Aug. 28th, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC)
I completely agree about terrorists being the new communists.

The whole situation is just full of crap. If we get a worse leader than Bush, I will fucking cry.
superbus
Aug. 29th, 2006 01:24 pm (UTC)
You should check out Dilbert's comment on that "terrorist=communist" statement in my FESS Blog; it's truly funny.
mel_makoro
Aug. 28th, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC)
You would think that, with such a big problem, those in charge would actually see it. I can't say much else without repeating aufleuchten, though. And my mom wonders why I sometimes say I want to leave the country....
samuraiter
Aug. 28th, 2006 09:08 pm (UTC)
9 / 11 seemed like a bad dream to me. I was already out of my mind over a woman at the time, and that happened. I spent most of that day just sitting on the floor of my dorm room, physically present, mentally ... gone. It was ... not surreal, for me, but unreal. In a way, it still feels like that. I can only imagine how it might have felt to have received the news in what basically amounted to a front-line situation.

The world after 9 / 11 has turned into a Marx Brothers comedy, complete with the ineffectual President, the airhead Cabinet, and the army being given all the wrong directions by both. That feels equally as unreal as 9 / 11, perhaps more than that. It feels like ... background noise, almost, like a voice that nobody hears, but everybody knows is there: "This can't be happening." Indeed, it should not be happening. The frenzied narcissism of those in power is spiralling out of control, and it feels like it will only end with their fall.

After that, maybe, we can all look back on the '00s and say to ourselves, "What the fuck was that all about?" It'll be just like the McCarthy period, the political equivalent of a head cold.
swordsaint0
Aug. 28th, 2006 09:39 pm (UTC)
I can't say I'm happy about what's happened following 9/11; you hit the nail on the head when you call today's "terrorists" yesterday's "communists."


While we've certainly seen better times, we've also seen worse. The Bush administration is, no matter one's own opinion, on its way out, and this is bound to cause an improvement in national morale.

As for people not wanting to "do" anything? I blame the media as well as political leaders, much like in Vietnam. It's as if our reporters and journalists are trying their very hardest to demoralize the citizens and troops. People no longer seem to have a perspective on the losses that occur during war.
zephyrshakuraus
Aug. 29th, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)
When the towers came down, I was 13. I was a Canadian and I was invincible. I was just like any other kid my age. I knew what happened, I knew the effects it would have (to an extent) but I never believed it would happen to me. I'm a smartass, and I have been forever. One who had a knack for bad ill-timed jokes. The first recess after we heard about it, I was with my friends and point behind all of them and said "plane!" they all turned around and they realised it was a joke. (I went so far as to try it the next day, and it didn't work.)

That was 5 years ago. I've realised something, it could happen to me. If it could happen to thousands of people at once, why couldn't something happen to me? Sure, I live in Canada, but these guys hate the entire Western world. That includes Canada. I can't play the "Everyone loves Canada card" in this game. The world is different, and a lot of people don't feel safe anymore.

I find it hard to believe it was that long ago. Grade 8 felt like an eternity ago, but the Tower attacks feel like yesterday. I wish it never happened, or at the least, it was over. I have enough problems as it is, everyone does, we don't need this shit still, after five years.
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