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05 June 2005

Remembering September 11

So I was reading thru the blogs of some Tennesseans over the weekend and came across the blog of Todd, a University of Tennessee student. I found one of his posts interesting, given that I finished reading Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq not too long ago (much more on that later).

Just to give a little background, Todd is a Republican from Knoxville, Tennessee. Riverbend of Baghdad Burning is a female Iraqi living in Baghdad. Her blog is perhaps the most insightful commentary you'll find about life in Baghdad since the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq (you should go to her site now and read it from start to finish; I'm dead serious). Before the invasion, she was a computer programmer who made just as much money as her male coworkers. She was a college student who dressed as she wanted and safely walked the streets of her city as she pleased. After the invasion, Riverbend was unemployed and unable to attend school. She couldn’t walk the streets without two male companions. And venturing outside without a skirt and headscarf was to risk kidnapping or death at the hands of rising hordes of Islamic fundamentalists. Evidently that's what George Bush is talking about when he says that freedom is on the march for democracy's struggle.

Anyways, sorry for ranting. What I really wanted to do is juxtapose Todd's post about forgetting September 11 with Riverbend's post from Baghdad Burning on pretty much the same topic.

From Todd:

This is (from) an extremely good article by the famed Fox News Economic Analyst Neil Cavuto.

"It's funny how only a few short years erase the memories, how we revert to the good images and forget the bad. It's almost as if Sept. 11 never happened. News organizations refuse to show the brutality of that day to this day. We gloss over the issue of terror with sanitized snapshots of a couple of skyscrapers on fire. We never show the sequence of events that led to that fire or the fallout from that fire. We dare not show planes ramming into those buildings or people jumping from those buildings."

Neil Cavuto

I agree whole-heartedly with what he is saying and why he is saying it. I too have found myself forgetting about what happened that day. A day that I will never forget and attempt to not let anyone else forget. We stand at a threshold now. A threshold that could lead us to the top of prosperity, or bury us in the sand of fear. I believe that we as a nation need to cross this threshold. We need to start remembering what is truly important to us. We need to unite so that something like September 11, 2001 never happens again.
From Riverbend:

September 11 was a tragedy. Not because 3,000 Americans died… but because 3,000 humans died. I was reading about the recorded telephone conversations of victims and their families on September 11. I thought it was… awful, and perfectly timed. Just when people are starting to question the results and incentives behind this occupation, they are immediately bombarded with reminders of September 11. Never mind Iraq had nothing to do with it.

I get emails constantly reminding me of the tragedy of September 11 and telling me how the "Arabs" brought all of this upon themselves. Never mind it was originally blamed on Afghanistan (who, for your information, aren’t Arabs).

I am constantly reminded of the 3,000 Americans who died that day… and asked to put behind me the 8,000 worthless Iraqis we lost to missiles, tanks and guns.

People marvel that we’re not out in the streets, decking the monstrous, khaki tanks with roses and jasmine. They wonder why we don’t crown the hard, ugly helmets of the troops with wreaths of laurel. They question why we mourn our dead instead of gratefully offering them as sacrifices to the Gods of Democracy and Liberty. They wonder why we’re bitter.

But, I *haven’t* forgotten…

I remember February 13, 1991. I remember the missiles dropped on Al-Amriyah shelter- a civilian bomb shelter in a populated, residential area in Baghdad. Bombs so sophisticated, that the first one drilled through to the heart of the shelter and the second one exploded inside. The shelter was full of women and children- boys over the age of 15 weren’t allowed. I remember watching images of horrified people clinging to the fence circling the shelter, crying, screaming, begging to know what had happened to a daughter, a mother, a son, a family that had been seeking protection within the shelter’s walls.

I remember watching them drag out bodies so charred, you couldn’t tell they were human. I remember frantic people, running from corpse to corpse, trying to identify a loved-one… I remember seeing Iraqi aid workers, cleaning out the shelter, fainting with the unbearable scenes inside. I remember the whole area reeked with the smell of burnt flesh for weeks and weeks after.

I remember visiting the shelter, years later, to pay my respects to the 400+ people who died a horrible death during the small hours of the morning and seeing the ghostly outlines of humans plastered on the walls and ceilings.

I remember a family friend who lost his wife, his five-year-old daughter, his two-year-old son and his mind on February 13.

I remember the day the Pentagon, after making various excuses, claimed it had been a 'mistake'.

I remember 13 years of sanctions, backed firmly by the US and UK, in the name of WMD nobody ever found. Sanctions so rigid, we had basic necessities, like medicine, on waiting lists for months and months, before they were refused. I remember chemicals like chlorine, necessary for water purification, being scrutinized and delayed at the expense of millions of people.

I remember having to ask aid workers, and visiting activists, to 'please bring a book' because publishing companies refused to sell scientific books and journals to Iraq. I remember having to 'share' books with other students in college, in an attempt to make the most of the limited resources.

I remember wasted, little bodies in huge hospital beds- dying of hunger and of disease; diseases that could easily be treated with medications that were 'forbidden'. I remember parents with drawn faces peering anxiously into doctors' eyes, searching for a miracle.

I remember the depleted uranium. How many have heard of depleted uranium? Those are household words to Iraqi people. The depleted uranium weapons used in 1991 (and possibly this time too) have resulted in a damaged environment and an astronomical rise in the cancer rate in Iraq. I remember seeing babies born with a single eye, 3 legs or no face- a result of DU poisoning.

I remember dozens of dead in the 'no fly zones', bombed by British and American planes claiming to 'protect' the north and south of Iraq. I remember the mother, living on the outskirts of Mosul, who lost her husband and 5 kids when an American plane bombed the father and his sons in the middle of a field of peaceful, grazing sheep.

And we are to believe that this is all being done for the sake of the people.

“Have you forgotten how it felt that day
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away?”

No… we haven’t forgotten- the tanks are still here to remind us.

A friend of (my brother), who lives in Amiriyah, was telling us about an American soldier he had been talking to in the area. (My brother)’s friend pointed to the shelter and told him of the atrocity committed in 1991. The soldier turned with the words, "Don’t blame me- I was only 9!" And I was only 11.

American long-term memory is exclusive to American traumas. The rest of the world should simply 'put the past behind', 'move forward', 'be pragmatic' and 'get over it'.

Someone asked me whether it was true that the 'Iraqi people were dancing in the streets of Baghdad' when the World Trade Center fell. Of course it’s not true. I was watching the tv screen in disbelief- looking at the reactions of the horrified people. I wasn’t dancing because the terrified faces on the screen, could have been the same faces in front of the Amiriyah shelter on February 13… it’s strange how horror obliterates ethnic differences- all faces look the same when they are witnessing the death of loved ones.

Comments on "Remembering September 11"


Anonymous zalm said ... (6/05/2005 10:48:00 PM) : 

Wow, that's moving. Thanks for posting it. I haven't been to her site in a while, and that's clearly a mistake on my part.

And to think I was going to come here to tease you about how cute you are.


Blogger Streak said ... (6/06/2005 07:12:00 AM) : 

Yeah, great post. I will read more of her stuff. and I have no idea how cute you are.


Blogger Nicole said ... (6/06/2005 11:44:00 PM) : 

But see, being such a anti-establishment bastion of alternative information is what makes him so cute. And he's not half bad in bed either. ;)


Blogger Alice Clay said ... (6/07/2005 10:25:00 AM) : 

Thanks for the post. I didn't know of her site, but I went there yesterday and read the entire blog. I'm hooked. Very powerful stuff. It's so eye-opening to be getting an insider's view of this war who isn't appearing on some american news program.


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