Will memory serve us right?

America Remembers 9/11 Memorial in Eastlake, Ohio. This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Pbalson8204.

9/11. It’s that time of year again. The amount of attention given to the events of 2001 is declining, but a few voices still exhort us: “Remember 9/11!”

There are some memorable questions here: WHAT should we remember? Or perhaps, better yet: What lessons should we have learned?

Regarding lessons to be learned, I vote for: Violence breeds violence.

The attacks on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001, did not come out of nowhere. Contrary to popular beliefs, fueled by the popular media, 9/11 followed  a long history of  United States government-sponsored  military aggression in the Middle East; you can make a lot of enemies through violence–especially when you smugly preach liberty, justice and freedom for all while killing and maiming wives, children, and thousands of other innocent civilians.

For a not so brief summary of recent U.S. violence in the Middle East, read this . For a very readable essay on the cycle of violence in which the U.S. military-industrial complex has embedded the nation at great profit, read this .

There probably are always some people who gain something they want through the use of violence. Certainly the U.S. military-industrial complex and the U.S. corporate media have benefitted greatly from the violence perpetrated by the government in the name of freedom, democracy, and, Heaven forgive them, God. But perhaps they have not gained as much as right-wing extremist groups in the Middle East such as ISIS, whose ranks have swelled since 9/11. There are a lot of arguments concerning the US role in the evolution of the Islamic State—for a broad sample, see these articles in the New YorkerThe Atlantic , and Counterpunch .

The message in all these articles is that US government policies have contributed to the recent growth in terrorist groups. So, perhaps  the things we should remember about 9/11 should NOT include belief in the claim that the US was the gentle giant good guy viciously attacked for no reason by utterly vicious and psychotic bad guys.

Perhaps, if we truly want to move ahead towards peace and security, we would benefit more by remembering that the US government should not create power vacuums in places where imperialism has left behind  a lot of righteous anger and, more importantly, that it should not send Americans off to die in other lands so that it can increase its control of oil or terrify other people.

What I remember most about 9/11 is the compassion, the empathy, the bravery of the many American first responders and civilians who risked all to help the innocent civilians targeted in the 9/11 attacks. And what I want to remember each 9/11 in my future is: 1) Rewatch this video. 2) Learn everything I can about anyone who seems to be using 9/11 for political gain, and 3) Spend the next year speaking out against the ongoing US governmental aggression that continues to kill innocent children and others .




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4 Responses to Will memory serve us right?

  1. Gold Dust Twin says:

    It was over half a century ago that President Dwight Eisenhower presented his views on the Military-Industrial Complex. Here is what he had to say in Part VI:
    “Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
    Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
    Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
    Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.”
    Would that other private citizens — and above all public citizens — would join Eisenhower in his resolve to do everything possible to keep the peace.

    • kathiemm says:

      Dear Gold Dust Twin. Thanks so much for the great quote from President Eisenhower. It is a message as needed today as it was decades ago. I share your wish that everyone would heed his words and move in the direction he so poignantly recommended.

  2. barbara says:

    Thanks so much for this compelling essay on remembering 9/11. I read another excellent op/ed on the same topic by William Rivers Pitt, on Truthout, entitled 9/11 at 15: the falling dominoes of September.
    He says, among other things, “We are still running because September 11 never ended. To the contrary, it grew, expanded, metastasized and ultimately subsumed this nation…. The cops look like soldiers now, the neighborhoods they patrol no longer areas to protect and serve but hostile territories to be conquered, and this is supposed to be normal. Police in military gear wreak havoc in Ferguson and elsewhere. Citizens become enemy combatants to be shot down or choked out because when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. September 11 gave us that, thanks to the wars.”
    I hope everyone reads both your essay and his.

  3. AS says:

    Thank you, Kathie and Barbara! I agree and I had read William Pitt’s article as well. It’s incredible how we’re still experiencing the shock waves from the tragedy 15 years ago: “They know tactics and they know strategy, and when Bush’s war in Iraq created a massive refugee crisis that upended Syria, they found fertile ground in which to grow. In truth, however, ISIS was born on that perfect Tuesday morning to the scream of airplane engines and the smell of scorched blood.”

    I think this captures how it was ultimately a ripple effect and each bombing, killing, war, etc. can be backtracked.

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