Friday, September 9, 2016

What will we remember when we think back fifteen years to September 11?

When I think back to Sept. 11, 2001, I have my own personal image I keep in my mind from that day.
As we viewed it from Chicago

It was as I walked through downtown that morning while most businesses were quickly shutting down for the day to allow for an evacuation of the Loop as a precautionary measure – in the event that anything similar to had what just happened in Manhattan and suburban Washington, D.C., was in store for Chicago.

I RECALL THE sight and sound of Chicago Police motorcycles riding all over the downtown area with their lights flashing and sirens roaring, trying to create the visual image of a heavy police presence that would pounce down on anyone who did anything even remotely suspicious.

And while I heard that, I happened to look over at the Borders Books store that used to exist on State Street (it’s now the Old Navy store), where I saw a store manager standing in the display window quickly concocting a sign that informed people the store was closed for business until further notice (it wound up re-opening a day later).

Like I said, the Loop was in a state of chaos. People were headed for the commuter train stations in hopes of catching a ride back home for the rest of the day. In fact, I was one of the few people headed to an office – instead of away from one.

I would up spending the day at a makeshift United Press International bureau, then got to see the Loop later in the afternoon by which time everybody was gone and it seemed like a ‘ghost town.’

ALL BECAUSE OF the activities by fanatics citing their religion as an excuse for acts of vandalism against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (with speculation being that had the plan been carried out to its full extent, the Capitol building and White House also would have been hit that day).
'Loop empties' makes Page One

We literally wondered if someone had in mind a plan to hit the Sears Tower as well. It led to the precautionary evacuation that pretty much meant that for Chicagoans, Sept. 11, 2001 was not so much a day of horror, but one in which we got an excused absence from work.

Which makes me wonder what we’ll think about on Friday – which is the date that many communities throughout the Chicago area have chosen with which to have official ceremonies paying tribute to the memory of that date.
A view from up and close

One which some people are determined to think lives “in infamy” even if their sense of history is so weak that they have no concept of what that famed FDR quote refers to, or who President Roosevelt even was!

I WONDER ABOUT the point of many of these ceremonies, which I wonder if they will be so filled with all the patriotic gestures one can think of that they wind up becoming trite remembrances of what we actually felt that day.

For one thing, they’re being held now instead of on the actual anniversary date of Sunday. Which makes me suspect that organizers fear people would be too preoccupied with the Chicago Bears season opener against the Houston Texans to care much about a patriotic ceremony!

Has Sept. 11 become just a date? Rather than an event in which we remember how 15 years ago our sense of our nation’s invincibility was challenged, and we might have to consider the concept that someone else would have the nerve to try to challenge our society.

Because that’s what those particular attacks were – meant to strike a blow against the western world that some perceive as leading us into a 21st Century that has deviated too far from their vision of the ideal.
A little over the top

TO THE POINT that Chicago pretty much shut itself down for a day, and I still remember the fact that commercial airlines were shuttered for a week. Car rental agencies received a boon as certain people learned that the three-hour flight across the country was actually a three-day drive if done by automobile.

It's something that ought to be thought of seriously, and not just an excuse to listen to a poorly-sung national anthem while people struggle to remember the proper words to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Which is what is too likely to occur in ceremonies held across the metropolitan area and the nation come Friday.


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