September 11th, 2012

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#622 – Dick Bernard: 9-11-12

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

9-11-2001 seems to have become a permanent fixture in the American psyche. I offer a reflection a little different from what appears to be typical this day.

On this anniversary of 9-11-2001 the front page of the Minneapolis paper had a photo of a beam of one of the collapsed NYC towers as it is exhibited in a park in rural city in southwest Minnesota.

I wondered how this would have played post-December 7, 1941. Who would have suggested dismantling my uncle Franks tomb, the USS Arizona, with parts taken here and there as monuments in various places?

I cannot imagine even a serious thought, then, of desecrating the relic that was the USS Arizona and shipping pieces here and there as relics of war.

To this day, to my knowledge, the Arizona rests where it was destroyed, undisturbed. I’ve been there.

I also wondered how this debris will be looked on by some successor to our civilization coming across this rusted beam in a remote town 150 or 1000 years from now.

It will be puzzling to the visitor to what remains of the United States.

Like everyone, I would guess, I remember exactly what I was doing at the time I heard of the Towers being hit on 9-11-01. I didn’t see it on TV until late in the afternoon of that Tuesday.

The event had a strong personal impact: when I established my first web presence in April 2002, I chose for my Peace and Justice page two photos I’d taken of the twin towers in June, 1972, right before they were completed. A year later I wrote a reflection that remains at that same place on the web.

I remember.

(click to enlarge)

The Twin Towers NYC late June 1972.

NYC skyline June 1972. Photos by Dick Bernard

I wonder what we have learned since 9-11-01.

Sadly, it seems we have learned very little.

On 9-11-01 we seem to have had two forks in the road to recovery from the attack of 19 terrorists.

We could have done the normal thing: after the shock wore off, normally a short period of time, we would have begun to regroup, to learn from what happened, to not react. We could have even found ways to reconcile and for certain not indict an entire religion and race for the vicious attack perpetrated by a few.

Of course, we didn’t do that.

Almost unanimously, our country took the other fork, by far the most popular route: a combination of negative emotions such as revenge, or exploiting an opportunity…. We ended up injuring ourselves almost fatally in many ways. We damaged ourselves far more than the terrorists damaged us on September 11, 2001. Afghanistan Oct 7 2001001

Fast forward to the current day.

The photo of the tower beam on display in Marshall jarred me a bit, but did not surprise because three years ago, at the Peace Garden near Dunseith ND, bordering Canada and the U.S. since 1934 as a Garden of Peace between our two nations, I saw one of those monuments of World Trade Center rubble on the grounds.

I wrote my feelings about it in 2009, and it is archived here.

At the same post, as an Update, much more recent, is a column written this summer by James Skakoon of St. Paul. After his own visit to the Peace Garden, with the same reaction as mine, he happened to find my column on-line, and his comments speaks for itself.

But the bottom line is that it appears likely that we will be solemnizing the tragedy of New York City in 2001 for the immediate future as a monument to War, not Peace. We are compounding our loss from the tragedy.

I hope that there is thought given to changing the emphasis from continued emphasis on war, to more emphasis on the need for peace.