They’re marking the 9/11 anniversary (and receiving Condi Rice’s thanks) in Canada, and specifically in Gander, Newfoundland, a town of 9,651 people that played host to 6,595 air travelers from 39 trans-Atlantic flights for several days in September ‘01 after the planes were forced to make an unexpected landing there. The Newfies call it “the day the world came to town.” As someone who has visited Newfoundland twice, most recently in summer 2001, I’ve always found this to be one of the more intriguing stories from that day. More here and here, and much more here.
Here is the text of the president’s address to the nation. It was a fine speech, I thought. Notable was his head-on defense of the war in Iraq, acknowledging straightforwardly the lack of any causal link between Saddam and 9/11, but nevertheless explaining that 9/11 animated his decision to go after Saddam — a distinction that his critics often fail to grasp as they scream bloody murder every time he mentions “Iraq” and “9/11″ in the same sentence. Excerpt:
I am often asked why we are in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat. My administration, the Congress and the United Nations saw the threat — and after 9/11, Saddam’s regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take. The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. And now the challenge is to help the Iraqi people build a democracy that fulfills the dreams of the nearly 12 million Iraqis who came out to vote in free elections last December.
Al-Qaida and other extremists from across the world have come to Iraq to stop the rise of a free society in the heart of the Middle East. They have joined the remnants of Saddam’s regime and other armed groups to foment sectarian violence and drive us out. Our enemies in Iraq are tough and they are committed — but so are Iraqi and coalition forces. We are adapting to stay ahead of the enemy — and we are carrying out a clear plan to ensure that a democratic Iraq succeeds.
We are training Iraqi troops so they can defend their nation. We are helping Iraq’s unity government grow in strength and serve its people. We will not leave until this work is done. Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. They will not leave us alone. They will follow us. The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad. Osama bin Laden calls this fight “the third world war” — and he says that victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America’s “defeat and disgrace forever.”
If we yield Iraq to men like Bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened, they will gain a new safe haven, and they will use Iraq’s resources to fuel their extremist movement. We will not allow this to happen. America will stay in the fight. Iraq will be a free nation, and a strong ally in the war on terror.
Agree or disagree with Bush’s conclusion that Iraq was a “clear threat,” I think it’s clear that he’s being honest here and making an intellectually legitimate argument, not engaging in some sort of sinister rhetorical trickery, as he is so often accused of.
In the aftermath of 9/11/01 — I believe it was actually on the 14th — USC held an interfaith memorial service at Bovard Auditorium. The last thing listed in the program was the singing of “America the Beautiful,” but the vocalist decided to transition from that song directly into “God Bless America,” and as you can see in the video clip below (taken from the balcony by yours truly), people quickly joined in.
Of course, the performance of “God Bless America” that everyone remembers is Congress’s rendition on the steps of the Capitol — the very Capitol that might have been destroyed if not for the heroic efforts of the Flight 93 passengers.
As my earlier post indicates, Becky and I went to the Grotto earlier this evening, only to discover that the 9/11 memorial mass had been moved indoors to the Basilica due to rain. There were just a handful of people at the Grotto, saying silent prayers. There was something incredibly peaceful about the scene, with the candles silently flickering and a light rain quietly falling. We ended up not going to the Basilica, but simply stood near the Grotto for a while, lost in thought. Eventually, I lit a candle and said a brief prayer. And, of course, I took some pictures.
Afterward, we walked over to the lake and fed the ducks. That may not seem like much of a 9/11 observance, but in some strange way it seemed appropriate. The world may have changed five years ago today, but don’t tell that to the ducks. I guess it’s just a reminder that, amid tragedy and war, life goes on.
Hurricane Florence strengthened nearly into a Category 2 storm as she swept past Bermuda today, but initial reports indicated there was little damage on the island. Now Florence is heading out to sea — and newly declared Tropical Storm Gordon is following behind.
Webcomic writer and artist Tim Absath’s comic Ctrl-Alt-Del normally focuses on video games, but his news post included the following sketch, which I think is very appropriate for today:
It looks like the memorial mass has been moved inside due to the rain, but a group of women is praying at the Grotto anyway.
Welcome, InstaPundit readers!
A few items of potential interest:
• My thoughts on the anniversary, and a request for your thoughts & memories
UPDATE, 5:00 PM: I’m heading over to the Grotto now, for Notre Dame’s 9/11 anniversary memorial mass. I might liveblog a picture or two from there. More later.
P.S. FYI, this “index911.html” is my blog’s main index just for today, as my homepage is currently given over to a 9/11 memorial. If you want to bookmark something, please bookmark http://www.brendanloy.com/ — not this page. Thanks!
Mark Bingham, one of the heroes of Flight 93, is a hero for another reason as well: he once tackled the Stanford Tree!
A fit and muscular 6′4″, the 31-year-old Bingham was a fearless athlete who had attended UC Berkeley on a rugby scholarship. Head of his own San Francisco public relations firm, hyping ambitious dot-coms, Bingham boomed down city streets with a huge spirit, lighting up everybody in his wake. He was also the crazy man, the guy who dove off the highest cliff in Maui, who ran with the bulls in Pamplona — and wasn’t happy until he got gored — who grabbed a gun from a mugger one night in San Francisco’s Castro District. Hoglan smiles with chagrin as she relates the time that Mark, three sheets to the wind during a Cal-Stanford football game, ran onto the field and tackled the Stanford mascot, a massively tall and awkward tree. He was handcuffed and carted off to a Berkeley jail.
Heh. He also once tackled the Wisconsin Badger, according to The Advocate.
The homepage of the 2,996 project — whereby bloggers pick out an individual victim of 9/11 to memorialize and honor — has been
overwhelmed by heavy traffic hacked by Ned Lamont supporters! Oh, the humanity!
Seriously, though, check out the website if/when it comes back online. It’s a great idea, and one I wish I’d discovered earlier; I would have participated. (For an example of the concept, see Michelle Malkin’s post about Giovanna Porras.)
P.S. Malkin also posted this photo montage of — by my count — 1,938 victims of the atrocity:
Click for a higher-res image.
Here’s Newseum’s archive of 110 front pages.
ESPN College GameDay is headed to USC for the Trojans’ game against Nebraska on Saturday. This pretty much confirms the theory voiced by my friend Nick over the weekend, that GameDay this season is going to heavily favor ABC’s Saturday-night games. If ESPN was objectively assessing the “biggest” game of the weekend, I think it’s fairly clear that #2 Notre Dame vs. #11 Michigan or #3 Auburn vs. #6 LSU would be more logical choices than #4 USC vs. #19 Nebraska. You could also make a case for #7 Florida vs. #13 Tennessee, though that case got somewhat weaker when the Vols almost lost to Air Force on Saturday. (I think the lyrics were changed for one week to: “Good old Rocky Top… Whew!… Rocky Top, Tennessee!”)
Anyway, it’s cool that the show is going to USC; this is, what, the fourth* time now since 2004, after never going there before? And, don’t get me wrong, it definitely has the potential to be a good game — but it’s disappointing that GameDay’s location of choice is now apparently going to become so predictable, and not necessarily tied to what’s the biggest, most hyped, most anticipated game of the week, which Trojans-Huskers definitely isn’t (outside of Lincoln and L.A., anyway). It was such a fun parlor game to guess where Kirk, Corso & co. would be going; now, not so much. Oh well.
That said, in terms of picking a game next Saturday, you really can’t lose, as ESPN’s College Football Final points out:
The most fun part of this season…might be watching other teams [in addition to Ohio State] try to remain unscathed, as Notre Dame and the major-conference powers slug it out over the next 12 weeks. And that fun begins this coming Saturday with six games between undefeated, ranked teams. On paper, it looks like the most exciting weekend of the season.
Personally, I think that if USC and Notre Dame are both undefeated on November 25, that game will single-handedly make Thanksgiving weekend the most exciting of the season. :) But anyway, here’s the schedule for what ESPN is already calling “Showdown Saturday.”
P.S. Incidentally, the new polls are out, and the Top 5 looks just as I predicted: OSU-ND-Auburn-USC-WVU in the AP poll, OSU-USC-ND-Auburn-WVU in the coaches poll. Texas drops to #8. Penn State, previously #19, drops to #25 in the AP poll and #26 (i.e., first in the “others receiving votes”) in the coaches’ poll.
I hope no one is overly bothered by the 9/11 video clips in the posts below. I realize they are graphic and horrible. That said, I offer no apologies for them. As I’ve said before, I believe it is extremely important that we not only “remember” 9/11, but that we periodically revisit it, to consciously remind ourselves in excruciating detail of the mortal threat we face. Terrorism is all too easy to euphemisize and sanitize, but we musn’t do that. This isn’t about war-mongering or jingoism, nor is it about masochism (though some of the video clips are certainly hard to watch) or morbid voyeurism. Rather, it’s about reality: the reality that civilization is at war with a band of murderous thugs who will stop at nothing to destroy us, and it is therefore absolutely necessary that we utterly defeat and destroy them. We have no other choice, if we wish to continue to exist. We must always remember that, and watching videos of 9/11 makes it impossible to forget.
Anyway… I have a hard time believing it’s really been five years since that awful day. I won’t say it feels like yesterday — that’s too cliché, and not really true — but it certainly doesn’t feel like half a decade ago.
I was in the third week of classes in my junior year at USC on September 11, 2001. I had gone to bed the previous “night” at around 3:00 AM Pacific time — 6:00 AM Eastern — by which time Mohammed Atta was already en route from Portland, Maine to Boston’s Logan Airport. When the attacks began, I was sound asleep, as was my roommate Cameron. (I lived in a university apartment with four other guys, sharing a bedroom with two of them. My third roommate, Brent, was up early for ROTC training, and found out about the attacks there.) It wasn’t until 6:50 AM Pacific time — 9:50 Eastern — that I awoke to a changed world. Having turned off my phone’s ringer a few nights before, I was awakened not by the phone, but by the sound of Becky’s voice yelling into my answering machine: “You guys, you all have to wake up! Both of the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have been attacked by terrorists!” She urged us, repeatedly and loudly, to get up and turn on our TV.
In my sleepy state, I was too groggy to immediately digest the details of Becky’s message, in particular the locations that had been attacked. The only thing I immediately gathered was that something relating to “terrorists” had happened (she said that word several times), and I needed to wake up and turn on the TV. So I stumbled into the living room, picked up the remote, and pressed the power button. The TV, it so happened, was tuned to ABC (probably because my roommates had been watching Monday Night Football the night before), so it was ABC’s coverage that brought me up to speed. The Pentagon had just been hit a few minutes earlier, whereas the WTC attack was “old news” at that point, so at the particular moment when I turned it on, ABC was showing the cloud of smoke at the Pentagon, not the clouds of smoke at the Twin Towers. My immediate reaction was, “Holy crap! An attack on the Pentagon?!? This is HUGE — no wonder Becky woke me up!” Maybe 30 seconds later, they switched to a split screen view of the Pentagon and the Towers, and only then did I actually realize the full scope of the attack. I suppose I’m one of very few people in America who learned about the attack on the Pentagon before learning about the attack on the World Trade Center.
Cameron wandered out of the bedroom a minute or so after me, and said something like, “Is she serious? If she’s kidding, I’m going to kill her.” Dazed and amazed, but slowly waking up, I informed him that Becky was not kidding — America was under attack. I don’t remember his response exactly, but I remember the look in his eyes. He then sat down on the couch next to me, and we both proceeded to gape at the TV in utter astonishment for a while.
A few short minutes later, I saw the South Tower collapse live, but for some reason, that didn’t make as much of an impression on me as you’d think. I guess I was still groggy, and insofar as I understood the significance of what was happening, it seemed perfectly logical that, well, of course the building would collapse. Unlike people who watched the whole thing live, I hadn’t had the experience of watching the towers on fire but intact for over an hour. So a structural collapse just kinda seemed like the logical, not terribly surprising result of the massive fire that I’d seen raging for the preceding few minutes. And once the South Tower collapsed, I assumed that the North Tower would too, so that didn’t come as a shock either.
At some point (right around the time of the North Tower collapse, if I remember correctly), my dad called me from Connecticut. He assumed that he’d be the one waking me up, and began telling the answering machine that this was “like one of your earthquake calls” (a reference to a time, nearly two years earlier, when I’d awakened my parents to tell them I was OK after an earthquake hit Southern California). But of course, I was already up, and quickly grabbed the phone. My dad mostly wanted to assure me that my mom was all right. In truth, it had never occurred to me to worry about her; although I knew she was in New York that day, my mom is definitely not a financial-district kind of girl, so I wasn’t concerned that she’d be anywhere near the WTC. And indeed, she was at her apartment on 190th Street, about ten miles away, when the attack happened.
Becky’s family had a much bigger scare, though luckily for her sanity, Becky didn’t realize the full extent of it until she already knew everything was all right. Her brother was in New York that day — Becky knew that much, and was mildly worried about him when she found out about the attacks. Only when her parents called to relay Casey’s message that he was OK did Becky find out that he had actually been scheduled for a job interview at the World Trade Center on the afternoon of 9/11, and had been planning to get there early to watch the sunrise, but ended up in Midtown instead because he belatedly realized he had forgotten his dress shoes and needed to buy new ones. (It was subsequently suggested that he should bronze the shoes that he’d accidentally left behind. They might have saved his life.)
Anyway, back in L.A. — as the morning wore on, rumors flew about planes supposedly heading our way. As I recall, someone’s mother in Pennsylvania called to report that local TV had said something about a hijacked plane bound for Los Angeles. (I was then unfamiliar with the phrase “the fog of war”; that would soon change.) Assuming the role of big tough men, Cameron and I assured the girls from down the hall, who had come over to watch the news on TV with us, that we would be safe from any L.A.-bound planes; surely they would target someplace other than USC. If anything, they’d be more likely to hit UCLA, I absurdly reasoned. That doesn’t make any particular sense, but then, 9/11 was a morning when logic and reason went out the window.
I remember having an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach all day, and I mean that literally — it felt like I’d been physically punched. I’m not usually a terribly emotional person, but while I didn’t cry (as noted before, I almost never cry, more’s the pity), it hit me very hard. Everyone was upset, of course, but the attack was more personal for me than it was for some of my fellow Trojans who were born and raised in California and have few East Coast ties. To me, New York had always been like my adopted home city. I had been at the World Trade Center on June 6 of that year — exactly 100 days before 9/11, I later calculated. I bought a teddy bear there, who later became the subject of a Daily Trojan column. (I would later make what you might call a pilgrimage to New York and write about that as well. I misquoted the airfare, though: it was $139, not $189.)
In a sure sign of how shell-shocked I was, I didn’t take any pictures or videos on the morning of 9/11. For once, I stopped documenting life and simply participated in it. Like so many others, I just sat there for hours, staring blankly at the television and wondering how the hell this had happened, and what the hell was going to happen next.
I only had one class that day: Middle East Politics, at 3:30 PM. The professor, renowned Mideast expert Richard Dekmejian, was fielding calls all day from local and national news organizations, but to his everlasting credit, he didn’t cancel class. He could have put the media attention ahead of his undergraduate students, but instead, he showed up and gave us a hastily conceived “teach-in” on the three groups who he felt could potentially be behind the attacks: the Iraqis, the Palestinians, and Al Qaeda. At that point, of course, we really had no idea which it was. But he gave an excellent, brief lesson on all three, with a projection of CNN’s live broadcast soundlessly displayed on a big screen behind him. (In a rare moment of levity, snickers broke out in the classroom when CNN played — perhaps for the first time, certainly one of the first times — the now-famous video of Andy Card whispering in President Bush’s ear that a second plane had hit the WTC. Absent sound and thus devoid of context, Bush looks rather silly in that video, sort of like a monkey-faced deer in headlights when he gets the news, and several students laughed out loud when they saw it. Professor Dekmejian initally looked confused — why the heck were people laughing? — but then he turned around and saw Bush’s face on the screen behind him, and immediately gave a look which seemed to say, “Oh, you’re laughing at him. Well, yeah, that makes sense.”)
As night fell, the most pronounced local effect of 9/11 on L.A.’s everyday life became extremely noticeable: there were no planes in the sky. That may not seem terribly significant to those who have never lived in Los Angeles, but see, the L.A. sky doesn’t really have stars — it has planes. The light pollution is so bad that it’s almost impossible to see anything except airplanes in the night sky, but there are virtually always several planes overhead at any given time. So the absence of planes was downright eerie.
My final vivid memory of 9/11 is of walking back from Ralph’s (where I had gone in hopes of finding a copy of the L.A. Times’s “Extra” edition) late at night, under that strange, blank sky, feeling this overwhelming sense of eerie quiet (it felt like the entire city was hunkered down), and then having the bizarre, split-second thought that a car turning into my path — well, turning into the side street that I was about to cross — was perhaps aiming for me. It didn’t make any sense at all, and I immediately shook it off as absurd, but the mere fact that such a thought would even cross my mind was a perfect manifestation of the fear and paranoia that I think we all experienced that day.
I could go on, babbling about other memories from 9/11 and the days that followed, but that’s enough from me. What are your stories? Where were you when the attacks happened? How did 9/11 affect you? How did it change your life?