History Politics

Ten years ago today

Once again we come to another September 11. It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since that horrible day. It’s become my tradition over the last few years to post this video as a reminder of what happened that day.

This video was shot by Bob and Bri, who in 2001 lived in a high rise a mere 500 yards from the North Tower. On this tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I think it’s important to post this again. It is the most prolonged and continuous video of the attack that I have seen, and, as such, It is difficult to watch.

That’s why it’s so important to watch.

Second, I either repost or post a link to a post I wrote about 9/11 on its 5th anniversary:

September 11: Five years later

Very likely this will be the last time I post these yearly remembrances on September 11, not because I don’t think that it’s not important to remember or to celebrate the lives of those who died. Nor does this mean I won’t ever post anniversary remembrances again. Rather, it means that, for good or ill, time marches on.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

25 replies on “Ten years ago today”

A difficult as it is to watch, we also have distilled within our own memories iconic images which are probably transforming themselves continuously.

At 10 am, as I drove I could see billows of brown-grey smoke twisting and and curling through the sky. I keep recalling this as a still image- although it wasn’t. It was as though unreality had dropped into my life or I had been transported into a place I didn’t know although I was near my home.

I have become rather ill disposed toward 9/11 memorial productions of late. It’s not because I don’t care for those who lost someone, or because I think the country should just forget about it all, but because it’s all become so damned commercialized. I guess I’m just too cynical.

My mind brings me back to the awful day and the forty minutes after the plane hit the North Tower and not knowing if my daughter was in her midtown office or the North Tower…where two of her colleagues perished. I also recall the grief of friends, colleagues and neighbors whose loved ones were murdered that day.

I cannot bring myself to viewing the video that Orac has provided and will not be watching any of the memorial activities planned for this anniversary.

@ DLC: Commercialized? Obviously the ceremonies provide solace to the thousands of Americans whose loved ones were murdered and to the brave men and women and their families who continue to put their lives on the line in service to their country. Who are we to to sit in judgment about those whose loved ones lost their lives ten years ago and those whose loved ones lost their lives since then?

Self plagiarism by cobbling bits from the past together with glaring seams and no effort to give fresh perspective or reflection is every bit as intellectually dishonest as pilfering from others. This post is a graceless, lazy and grudging afterthought. Despite the hype and hijacking of this overly sentimentalized day, there were thoughtful and genuine things said by some writers over the past few days. Yet, Orac, you couldn’t be bothered to proofread or update the video caption: “On this eighth [sic] anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I think it’s important to post this again.” Though perfectly reasonable, your explanation for this as the last post is clumsy and brusque, too. I’ve grown tired of this smug and intellectually underpowered blog.

lilady commercialized as in during this football game verizon, state farm and budweiser have all had commercials commenting on just how much they’ll never forget and how much they’ll remember.

@ JohnV: I agree with your interpretation of “commercialized” by corporate entities…but I addressed my comments to DLC and that poster’s use of the word “commercialized” who didn’t mention the ads on television.

“I’ve grown tired of this smug and intellectually underpowered blog.” Let me fix that fer ya Liz:

I’ve grown tired of these smug and intellectually underpowered posters…don’t let the door hit you on your smug ass on the way out.

Allow me to clarify, if it was not clear enough in my first comment: (I’m going to basically put in sections I cut from my original comment)
First, let me say that I feel for those who lost someone in the attacks. It was not my intention to deride those people, whose grief is real and personal. But that’s part of my problem with it. It’s personal, and shouldn’t be pasted on the cable news in between commercials for gold plated coins commemorating the events and special “collectors edition” video tapes of How SEAL teams operate™. It’s not the genuine memorials I object to, but the commercialization of the day by companies whose only interest is to make a fast buck.

The video doesn’t play on an iPad. It’s available on YouTube, but most of what is found on YouTube pertaining to the WTC is conspiracy nut stuff, it seems.

Liz McMillan:

I’ve grown tired of this smug and intellectually underpowered blog.

Your flounce is rather clumsy and brusque, given that this is your first ever post here.

For those looking for a compilation of the key moments of the day (yes, the disturbing ones) from various perspectives without the crackpottery, this video is pretty good.

A different perspective: today (Sept 11) I flew out of Newark Airport, with my 7-year-old.
I had had a lot of anxiety about flying today, but circumstances made it necessary. I’d avoided discussing my anxiety with my child, who, being only 7, has absolutely no knowledge of what happened ten years ago.
At the gate at Newark, there was a memorial to the United 93 crew members.
I had to explain it to my child.
But seeing the memorial – photographs, candles, and a flag – allowed me to cast aside my anxieties, and present today’s history as historical fact.
Time marches on, yes, but we still need to remember.

@ Chemmomo: We are glad that you and your daughter had a safe journey. I can only imagine what parental protective skills you used to not alarm your child. Sometimes having a child is the best deterrent for not giving voice to our fears and emotions…they are so dependent on parents for their security.

On Saturday we hosted a large post nuptial party for our only child in a lovely restaurant. One of her dearest friends, upon hearing of the potential for another terrorist attack canceled her flight from Detroit to New York and did not attend the party.

We as Americans have lingering emotional baggage due to these attacks. I am constantly amazed and in awe of the people I know who lost loved ones to these terrorists, for their strength of spirit and healthy adjustments to their losses.

Indeed, Chemmomo, I commend you for not taking counsel of your fears and going anyway. I hope your daughter can one day learn of the attacks in a scholarly fashion, and without seeing commercials for the commemorative beer can.

Obviously the ceremonies provide solace to the thousands of Americans whose loved ones were murdered

Do they? To some, no doubt. I didn’t loose anyone I’m close to in the attacks, but I was in NYC, living about a mile from the WTC, at the time and did work at Bellevue so saw a number of the wounded. A few years later I moved to Tribeca, about 2 blocks from the WTC site. I saw the annual passion play surrounding the attacks. It never gave me the least solace and I always felt that it was rather disrespectful to the dead. I’ve never been happy, for example, with the people who stood on the street and promised Christian prayers for the victims. Are they trying to erase the Muslims, Jews, atheists, Hindis, etc who died in the planes and the WTC? Would the mostly Democratic dead really want two wars that have killed over a million (lowest credible number, almost certainly an undercount) in their names? What does having an event that draws Phelps’s crowd, soccer hooligans, and 911 truthers really add to the very private pain the secondary victims feel?

Everyone mourns differently and maybe I’d feel differently if I did lose someone close to me, if the near misses had been deaths. Somehow I think I’d feel the same but moreso. I hope the ceremonies do bring healing to those who need it, at least to some. But to me it feels like exploitation. Especially when the politicians get involved. Were Bush and Obama there to mourn or to campaign?

I made the statement, “Obviously the ceremonies provide solace to the thousands of Americans whose loved ones were murdered….” and I stand behind it. I don’t have a loved murdered by terrorists and I don’t interject how I would react to ceremonies at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon or in that field in Pennsylvania where the plane crashed. I’m all about helping people to heal from the loss of a loved one and if the ceremonies and memorials provide a measure of solace to them, it is a good thing.

I believe Orac tried to keep this discussion totally non-political and most of us have posted accordingly.

Labeling the ceremonies as “passion plays” IMO is a disgrace to those who find “solace” and the interjecting of geo-political consequences and loss of civilian and military lives due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is not what this particular discussion is about.

(For the first and only comment defending President Bush by this poster) It is appropriate that both President Bush and President Obama attended memorial services and they were there to mourn and *not to campaign*.

Dianne, you always had and continue to have the option to not view the ceremonies that remember the events of September 11, 2001.

* Since Bush left office he has (wisely, IMO), stayed out of the limelight…only venturing out to publicize his re-writing of history contained in his book. President Obama has started to campaign…but not at the ceremonies. I especially like his complimentary remarks directed at Mitt Romney for his implementation of health care insurance in Massachusetts.


I’ve never been happy, for example, with the people who stood on the street and promised Christian prayers for the victims. Are they trying to erase the Muslims, Jews, atheists, Hindis, etc who died in the planes and the WTC? Would the mostly Democratic dead really want two wars that have killed over a million (lowest credible number, almost certainly an undercount) in their names?

I can’t speak for these people, as I do not know them nor have I heard their prayers. But I don’t think it’s right to assume that because a Christian offers a Christian prayer, they are trying to erase non-Christians who died. Christians offer Christian prayers. Muslims offer Muslim prayers. Jews offer Jewish prayers. Hindus offer Hindu prayers. Atheists don’t offer prayers at all, but may offer kind words of solace. None of that should be assumed, a priori, to be insulting to the other faiths or intended to slight them. Obviously, someone will be offended by any of those; it’s impossible to please everyone. But I tend to see it more as various people giving what they know how to do, in the words they know, by the traditions they know.

If you are discomfited by it, try to tune it out. It’s just for a short while, and there are clearly those who continue to gain solace from it. It doesn’t do anything for you, granted, but everybody mourns differently.

Dianne, you always had and continue to have the option to not view the ceremonies that remember the events of September 11, 2001.

Last year, during the 9/11 bruhaha over the “WTC mosque” (a misnomer if there ever was one, but that’s a different issue), and for several years prior, I lived 2 blocks from the WTC. I couldn’t leave my apartment without being assaulted by someone wanting me to join them in praying for those who died in the WTC, to support their opposition to the community center, or to support the community center. Sure, I could have pulled the curtains and refused to leave the building and just gone without food until it was done (my own fault for not stocking up before the mess started after all). Then there’d only be the noise from the various highly amplified ceremonies to deal with. I suppose I could use earplugs. Or I could have left town altogether…if I’d had vacation. Which I didn’t. Which means I also had to go to work. Did I mention that I worked in NJ? And commuted with the PATH train. The PATH train that stops in the WTC?

To people who live in Tribeca/Fidi, it wasn’t real ignorable. Did I mention that you can, on an average day, buy commemorative pens and pictures of the WTC in flames outside the WTC PATH station? You can. Goes double near the anniversaries. I suppose it’s just a New York thing to try to make money off of anything and the people hawking WTC memorabilia in the streets certainly aren’t getting rich off of it, but it never struck me as being in the best of taste.

I genuinely hope that these ceremonies are doing something good for someone, but I’m not sure who. I informally asked people involved in a protest against the Park 51 community center where they were from. Out of towners, all*. Mostly from out of state. Not those most directly affected by the WTC collapse or even those secondarily effected, i.e. the average Manhattanite.

I can’t speak to what Bush and Obama were doing at the WTC this year, but in 2003, Bush was definitely campaigning there. In 2007, Obama was definitely campaigning there. So were Kerry and McCain.

*N of about 15, unselected, i.e. anyone I could get to talk to me.

@Callie: I think you’re right that it is well meant, but the people I’ve seen tend to say things like, “Pray that the victims are with Christ now” which seems to me to be, at best, ignoring the diversity of the people who died there. Eh, maybe I’m just being easily offended. Frustrated desire to do something when there’s nothing to be done, I suppose.

@ Dianne: I really don’t care about your trips on the PATH train, your forays outside of your apartment and your interjection of religion and politics into this particular discussion. I care about the people who lost loved ones in all the terrorists attacks as well as their adjustment to their loss.

Now again, I state that I am all for the ceremonies and the memorials that have been built…because it provides solace to those whose loved ones were murdered by terrorists.

lilady: I guess you don’t care about the feelings of people who survived the terrorist attacks then. Too bad. I suppose in some ways it’s easier for me to say I don’t like the ritual because I’m the relative who might have been dead, not the relative who waited to hear whether someone was dead or not. My relatives waited days to hear that I wasn’t in the towers and never went into them after the attacks-I, of course, knew right away I wasn’t. I might have gone in as a substitute “first responder” if they’d held up a couple of days and the EMTs had become exhausted, but that didn’t happen. So I only treated some injuries (in the ER, not on site), helped people donate blood, and volunteered for New York’s emergency medical corps. No real danger in any of it. Until Irene, of course, but that’s yet another story.

I’m sorry I’ve offended you.

@ Dianne: You didn’t offend me…but by interjecting politics and religion into the discussion…you may have offended those who really survived the attack and the relatives and friends of those who didn’t. The ceremonies and memorials are a poor substitute for actually having the dead victims in your life…but they provide “solace” to those left behind.

For fucks sake, everyone stop being so god damned offended.

Anytime this blog veers into non-medical territory the median IQ seems to drop by 50 points.


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