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A 9-11 reflection: "Something's Happened"
September 11, 2011
On September 11th, 2001, I drove to school worried about a statistics quiz that I had brushed off studying for the night before. It was third period and I knew I could fit in some last minute studying in between 1st and 2nd periods but it wasn’t looking good. I got through 1st period English, 2nd period physics, and reluctantly dragged myself up to the third floor to face the music. I opened up my textbook and tried to cram in a few last minutes of memorization before our teacher came in. The bell rang and he didn’t appear. I sighed in relief and continued studying.
5 minutes went by, no one came. We started talking about the mythical 10 minute rule. For those not initiated in this particular aspect of mythology, students at my high school believed that if a teacher didn’t show up within 10 minutes of the start of class - we could leave.
A few more minutes passed.
Finally our teacher entered the classroom, looked at all of us terrified, and said, “Something’s happened.”
Today, 10 years later, I remember the fear, the uncertainty, and those who lost their lives on September 11th. I wish I could say the fear and the uncertainty have disappeared. On Thursday, after President Obama’s address to Congress, information of a “specific, credible, but unconfirmed” threat were made public. Living in Washington DC, I am worried about what someone may do on the anniversary of September 11th. Mixed in that worry is no longer simply the fear of an attack but, also, how our country may change in the shadow of another act of terrorism.
Because, even as I remember the victims of 9-11, I also remember all that we have lost to our fury and fear over the past 10 years. I remember the victims of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I remember the victims of torture and those whose civil liberties were sacrificed. I remember the lost opportunities to save the disadvantaged in our country, and around the world, with all the resources we lost to wage war. I also remember what we have accomplished.
In 2006, our pressure helped marginalize Vice President Dick Cheney and his plan for a military strike on Iran. We stopped our country from building a new generation of nuclear weapons, compelled the Senate to approve the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and opposed those who beat the drums of war to Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of us, and those who we work with, we have brought arms control back to the forefront of international discussion.
As we mark this anniversary, we have a choice.
It is easy to surrender to a feeling of helplessness in the face of our divisive politics. And, yet, we know that if we do not make our voices heard - no one else will. Talk to your friends. Talk to your neighbors. Ask if they’re frustrated with the path our country is on. Ask them to join you and PSR as we move to make sure that we never again surrender to our fury and spend billions of dollars that could be used to save our planet. Join your local chapter or, if there isn’t one in your state, create one. Together, as PSR members, we will make a difference.