Eight years ago today

Eight years ago today, just about an hour from now, I was driving to work after a visit to the doctor’s office.  I had the radio on.  The announcer was saying something about what sounded like a light plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York. 

It was a long way to work, and as the drive wore on, more and more information came out between songs.  And it seemed to get worse and worse.  I remember thinking, “why can’t they leave that place alone?” remembering the earlier attack on the same buildings.

By the time I walked into the office where I was working, all I saw were shocked faces*.  The news by then was very, very grave, and getting even more amazingly horrible by the minute.  We could see the Sears Tower through one set of windows, and as I remember we watched it all day for signs of an attack.  We expected it.

Most offices and businesses closed down early that day, but ours did not.  Driving home was like driving through a military zone.  The roads were deserted of civilians, but there were cops everywhere.  I kept expecting to get pulled over for some kind of identity check or something.   It was a feeling that never really went away.  I still have it at times now.

I think we were closed the next day and possibly the rest of the week; I don’t remember anything clearly about the following days.  But I do remember the eerie silence in the skies overhead (I live near a large airport and normally we listen to planes all day and half the night), broken only by the occasional NATO war plane circling overhead.

That terrible day set us off down the path toward a national nervous breakdown.  On September 10, 2001, we were a resilient lot in spite of our burgeoning fractiousness.  We have been made of eggshells ever since, and nowadays a lot of us seem irreparably shattered.  Which is to say that September 11, and the Bush Administration’s subsequent calculated use of that event, did not change an already nervous nation for the better.  It might have.  We might have pulled together and discovered ourselves as Americans again.  But the actions of Cheney and Bush killed that momentum and proceeded to shred the population.

My heart still goes out to the families and friends of the 3,000+ who died that day.  In a way, it also hurts for the rest of us.  We will never be the same — and not because of some weird, bearded, turbaned creature hiding out in a cave in Afghanistan.  Bin Laden and his disposable friends were merely pawns.  We had Bush right here, and he only needed an excuse, and these idiots gave it to him.

Some victory.

* As an aside, the job I had back then is long gone; the beginning of the end was the moment the planes hit the WTC, and my job hung by a thread for an entire year after that before I was laid off.  I spent almost two years on unemployment; originally the coverage was to run out much faster than that, but the economy was tanking to the point where the government had to expand the duration of unemployment benefits.  I spent most of that without health insurance because COBRA was just too expensive — the monthly premium equaled my rent, and I couldn’t afford to pay two rents in one month on only 2/3 of my former pay.  Since I was still within my COBRA-coverage timeframe, I was excluded from trying to get private coverage, which I probably couldn’t have afforded even if I could get it (and that’s a big IF) because I was well over 25.  You see, anyone over a certain age is almost definitely going to have health problems, however minor, and covering people with health issues is not good business; therefore most adults can’t get private health insurance or can only get it at a huge premium.  Now you know why I am so convinced we need healthcare reform, and am equally convinced that the wingnuts who oppose healthcare are morons.
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