Sunday, September 11, 2022

The 21st Anniversary of 9/11/01 - (Did 9/11 change everything?)

We were concluding a multi week car vacation that had taken us to see family and friends from Maryland to Wisconsin to California to Colorado, and Missouri and back. The “just the basics” highway motel in tiny Greenup, Illinois was, thankfully, open with vacancies as we arrived after 11:00 PM. Our two young children, then 4 and 1, were just looking to get a little food and then some sleep as September 10, 2001 ended.

We awoke to see the news and gradually packed up the car and headed to the DC area, all the while wondering if we were making a mistake in leaving the quiet Midwest for a hornet’s nest that would be a major military target.

I look at these photos every year. 9/11 changed everything. Or did it? 

For years I said, “Yes.” But, the Al-Qaeda successes ended by 10:30 AM when the heroes of Flight 93 fought and then ended the terror threat while sacrificing their own lives.

Yes, our defense strategy (and airport security) did forever change. But day to day life?  No. There were those at the time who said that Americans must sacrifice more. But, surprisingly, President Bush called on us to live our lives as normally as possible. “Go shopping.” And we did. Our economy did not crash. He was right. Send the signal that the terrorists did not win. The volunteers who comprise our armed services took the fight to the terrorists and the countries that harbored them.

If my two kids born years after 9/11 asked if that day changed everything, I would now have to say, no, it did not.

By contrast, look what happened with America’s response to COVID-19. 

We literally STOPPED shopping, sending millions of workers home as thousands of businesses shuttered by government orders. We shut down schools completely for weeks. Then, only opened them for at-home lessons over the computer. Masks began to be worn. National and local Elections were conducted, without proper security, by mail. 

The physical and mental health consequences of COVID -19 were and are still devastating.  The 6, 12 or 18 months of nothing but “virtual” schooling has demonstrably been shown to have caused dramatic and probably permanent learning losses, especially amongst the least privileged children in our nation.

Even today, 30 months after America responded to COVID, millions of people wear masks as readily as they wear socks with their shoes. Government employees might still be working from home three, four, or five days a week in many departments.

Who to blame? Al Qaeda? China? Donald Trump? Anthony Fauci? Joe Biden? Yes. (except Al Qaeda). But really, wasn’t it the local and national media which cleverly hyped us into a panic to draw more readers and viewers as well as impact the potential for certain candidates to win elective office?

Donald Trump’s inexperience caused him to rely greatly on experts whom he didn’t really know. When Birx and Fauci share frightful mortality projections, Trump didn’t have a core philosophical foundation to NOT implement the unprecedented “15 days to slow the spread” to protect hospital access. Shutting things down made no sense to me. By what logic would they be allowed to re-open, I asked. It’s a virus and we didn’t anticipate a vaccine for five or more years. But, I did accept the logic of flattening the curve to save the hospitals.  Soon to be followed by 30 more days. By the end of that period, while Trump knew the “cure was worse than the disease,” it was too late. Protecting the hospitals was no longer the goal. The unrealistic goal of “Zero COVID” seemed to be the aim. Schools stayed shuttered in most of the country the following Fall, despite  his own Education Department pushing hard ( ) for a full reopening and with ample evidence that children were safe from serious harm.

So,  no, 9/11/01 did not change America. The date that changed everything is Friday, March 13, 2020.

TV News as it happened

Four year old Kristen looking for toothpaste on 9/11.


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