Today truly marks the anniversary of a tragic event in our history. In fact this day marks the beginning of a series of terrible and tragic events for humanity as a whole. This day has altered the course of history and will have lasting effects for the rest of our lifetimes.
In addition to the near 3000 people who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attack, there have been hundreds of thousands of other casualties who perished after the fact – no, I think we can safely make that “millions” of other casualties – directly and indirectly due to this event.
I’ve researched the numbers, and they are overwhelming, captivating and conflicting… as is the way with modern warfare and massive bomb strikes… there just aren’t many pieces of the humans left for identification or tallying purposes. For instance, we know that approximately half of the human remains from the Trade Center attacks remain unidentified today. Thousands and thousands of people in other Countries have been buried in mass graves, or simply disintegrated or blown apart into the desert winds. As with the Trade Center casualties, these also cannot stand up and be counted.
Today I am mourning not only for those precious souls who were at ground zero, but also for many others who lost their lives due to this unimaginable hatred we have for each other. I mourn for what the dead were not able to accomplish with their lives, for the people who loved them, for our world that was robbed of their continued consciousness.
Here are some staggering numbers to try and comprehend, we’ll start out slow – of the near 3000 people who were murdered in the September 11 attacks, 72 were law enforcement officers, 343 were firefighters, and 55 were military personnel. We should also remember that innocent citizens representing more than 90 different countries were included in these casualty numbers… it was not just Americans who were killed that day. It was in fact the WORLD Trade Center that was bombed, and a great many other countries lost citizens on our soil that day too.
In Afghanistan, as of this year, nearly 7000 US soldiers have given their lives for our retaliation of the Trade Center attacks. Nearly 7000 US civilian contractors have been killed between Afghanistan and the subsequent Iraq war zones… this is not counting the thousands of civilian contractors from other countries who also breathed their last breath prematurely as a result of this warfare.
It is also estimated that approximately 43,000 uniformed Afghans, Iraqis and allied forces have lost their lives since September 11, 2001. Let’s also not forget the innocent Afghan civilians who had the misfortune of finding themselves under one of our bombs.
And we are still not counting the numbers of post-war deaths of our soldiers due to medical complications, lack of medical care and of course suicides. We have still not counted these same types of deaths of the soldiers and civilians in all the other countries who have been affected and affiliated with these wars. We still have not counted the survivors and the rescue workers who are just now dying of the cancers they started to grow in their bodies from the rubble and chemical fallout.
On this day of Remembrance, I hope that we will also recall that shortly after the horrific acts of 9/11, our political leaders sent our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters in Service to a faultless country and commenced to destroying their homeland. We essentially Nine-Elevened an innocent country for the crime of living and breathing on top of valuable oil reserves. Some estimate that more than 1,400,000 blameless Iraqi civilians perished – for crimes they absolutely did not commit.
Today we are mourning the attack on our own Country, the airplanes crashed, the buildings blew up, our citizens died terrible deaths. I implore you to find empathy in your hearts as you mourn, and open your grief to include every single one of the other living breathing souls who have also perished since the Towers fell… I implore you to look beyond those unfathomable numbers, to realize that those “millions” were individual singular humans with mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children…and dreams and goals and ambitions… whole lives ahead that they were cheated out of due to intolerance and political agendas. These lives matter. As you remember these living beings who were ripped from existence, also remember the cost of hatred, greed, and intolerance.
Today the news programs, radios and social media were splattered with phrases like “never forget” and “I remember”. All over our Country grocery stores, gas stations, colleges, banks, hospitals, fire stations, etcetera and etcetera stopped and payed homage, we said prayers, held vigils and sang our National Anthem through tears of grief. There was a collective outpouring of sorrow from sea to shining sea.
There was also plenty of anger, hate, and sadly, racism and intolerance. I read terrible things about Islams and Muslims. I heard people say that immigration into this Country should be considered a hostile invasion. Social media posts made it very clear that immigrants, migrants or even refugees were not welcome here. I heard that we should bomb Iran to little pieces. I heard extreme treasonous words regarding our fairly elected President, who is a human and humane being. Enough is enough, this kind of blind hatred is exactly what caused these terrible events in the first place. Why can’t we see that?
My heart is broken today. For 3000 dead people. For hundreds of thousands of dead people. For the families that have holes in their hearts and homes. For humanity. For our intolerance of others, our inability to empathize on a meaningful level, our failure to realize that we too, as a Country, have not just bombed a handful of buildings in other Countries, we have destroyed entire cities, aye even entire Countries. Look out your window, imagine it gone, imagine smoking charred rubble, just like the tragedy at the Twin Towers. Now imagine the masses of civilians on the receiving end of our retaliation for 9/11 – we did that eye for an eye thing, and it didn’t bring our loved ones back from their graves, it only created more of the same deep and desperate sorrow. Those people had no less right to life than we do. They didn’t attack our towers, our freedom, our anything.
We are Americans. For the majority of us, that was just the luck of the draw. Not one of us made the choice to be born in this Country. The people we are intolerant of, those ones in the desert nations that we have been taught to hate, not one of them had a choice in where they were born either. Life is not a game and different regions of our shared planet are not sports teams. We cannot sit in the bleachers and shout that we are better than the other side, because plain and simply we are not. We eat and sleep and laugh and love…. and lie and cheat and steal… just like every other singular human on this vast planet of ours. We are all the same where it matters, in our hearts and souls. We were all born on this Earth and have certain inalienable, unchallengeable, indisputable and absolute rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
If we truly hate, detest, abhor what happened to us 14 years ago, if we are truly filled with sorrow, and want to honor the memory of those who perished, then we should all be revolted at the whole of the story – not just the chapter that unfolded on September 11, 2001. Let’s use our words and actions to also revolt against the kind of greed and intolerance and pure hatred that were the fuel that blew those towers and those humans out of existence.
Let’s stop buying the bullshit that we have been fed that bombing people to death is patriotic, it is not. Let’s stop hating people who are different from us, who come from different lands and different faiths. Let’s stop allowing this horrific and terrifying and ungodly cycle to go on. Let’s just fucking stop now.
War. It’s inhuman. It’s catastrophic. I think of the lives, the thoughts and ideas, the families, the potential of these human souls who were cheated out of their chance at contributing to this world of ours. I feel very confident that if we could interview these thousands and thousands and thousands of people today, the ones who are in graves across the world simply because of ignorant fears and shallow animosities, if we could ask them if they thought war was worth the price, if they felt like they had given their lives for a higher cause, I truly and completely believe the skies would be full and rumbling like thunder with a mighty and collective resounding “HELL NO”.
So yeah, let’s never ever forget… any single one of them.
How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?
And how many deaths will it take ’til he knows that too many people have died?
– Bob Dylan