Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Today is the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. I remember that morning clearly. I was getting ready to leave for work; Nan was already gone. I was surprised when the phone rang since it was still very early. It was Nan. She told me to turn on the TV; a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. When the TV came on, it was tuned to The Today Show. The picture showed one of the towers smoking, and I thought, "How could a plane have flown into the World Trade Center on such a perfectly clear morning?" Then Katie Couric's voice said something like, "All right. Now let's back that up and look at it again in slow motion." I expected to see the jet that had caused the smoking tower, but instead I saw a second jet slowly enter the picture from the right and slam into the other tower, creating a huge ball of fire and debris. "Holy shit!" I thought. "What are the chances of THAT happening? Two planes in one day?!" And then it dawned on me that this was no accident, that people had done this intentionally. I stared in utter disbelief for several minutes as the scene replayed over and over again. Finally, I turned it off and went off late to work, thinking, "Everything has changed."

As I watched the news reports play out over the next several days and weeks, I kept waiting for someone to comment on the irony of the date. September 11. Nine-eleven. Nine-one-one: the number we call when there is an emergency. Was it just a coincidence that Osama bin Laden would choose this date for the attacks? Or was it intentional, either to send a warning--like the attacks themselves weren't enough of a warning--or to make an extremely dark joke, something like, "Hey, America, better call 9-1-1!"

In his infrequent videotapes, like the one released last week, bin Laden doesn't appear to have much of a sense of humor, unless you count telling us that the war in Iraq would end if we would all just convert to Islam. That made me smile. But he delivered it in such a deadpan manner that you had to think he was serious, not only about that but also about everything else he has done, including the attacks six years ago. Deadly serious. So why is he still alive and threatening us? Maybe it's like a button I saw a few years ago: "Osama bin Forgotten."

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