"Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?"
9/11. Of course you remember where you were. That day was a summons, a call; many answered it, in many different ways. Our team is here because of it. In all probability, so are you.
This September 11th we honour those who answered that call, and those who answer it still. Amidst the clamour and tumult of all the 9/11 related posts and articles over the past 4 years, some stand out and speak more truly to the essence of that dark day - and the challenges that lie before us still.
All of us are called on define the parts we play, and the exchanges we will make. What part will you play? "Ah," you say, "but I'm not a writer, or a hero." Funny, but I've got a few people in here who would have said the very same thing.
- Today's required reading: I'd argue that it's science fiction author Dan Simmons' story "The Time Traveler" - and its follow-up.
- In addition to the main war, let's not forget the fight against the usual assortment of fools and quislings at home. As allegation that the US government was behind 9/11 become more mainstream on the Left, we recommend Popular Mechanics' definitive new book that covers the various conspiracy theories out there as only dedicated engineers can: Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand up to the Facts. Yeah, we'd noticed that.
- Screw the 9/11 Commission. Eminent military historian and classics scholar Victor Davis Hanson mercilessly lashes 25 bipartisan years of foolishness and inaction in The Fruits of Appeasement. Democrat and Republican adminstrations alike find themselves squarely in his sights, as VDH methodically dissects the follies that have led us to this point in history.
- Bill Roggio and Marvin Hutchens, meanwhile, offer a Flash presentation that chronicles the Islamist war on Terra - before 9/11, and after. (Warning: graphic footage)
- United Flight 93. The first victory. Even Dave Barry got serious for a change and wrote about their story last year. Cox & Forkum has a 2005 cartoon and more links for y'all.
- Hugh Hewitt offers some thoughts on the New Realism in America, triggered by the growing realization (despite the best efforts of many to downplay it) of the true nature and depth of our enemies. We'll see, but Stanley Kurtz' Memoirs of a Gloomy Hawk does come to mind as a theme with legs.
- Tarek Heggy offers a ray of hope from his home in Cairo. "Why Do I Write" could just as easily be titled "Why Do I Fight" the denial, religious intolerance, human rights abuses, and backwardness that afflict his part of the world.
- Here are some additional thoughts from Khaled Abou El Fadl, a noted Muslim thinker and human rights activist, on "Islam and the Challenge of Democracy." The post also includes a report on the progress, challenges, and shortcomings among reformers in Egypt and the Palestinian "Authority". Some of them mirror the progress and shortcomings of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism; see this comments discussion for more.
- In 2003, Dan Darling took a look at al-Qaeda's key enablers and possible co-conspirators for September 11. Where were they now, after 2 years of the War on Terror? In 2004, he offered us something else: a roster of the al-Qaeda leaders we've killed or captured since 9/11. In 2005, it was Where the Enemy Stands, 4 Years On. And the war continues....
- A complete 9/11 timeline. Bet there's some stuff in there you weren't aware of.
- We would be deeply remiss without mentioning Morgan Stanley hero Rick Rescorla, who refused to leave until he was sure all his people were out. He's still there. Those who served with him in Vietnam say he was the bravest men they had ever seen. On 9/11, he proved it again. Read. This. Story.
- And Abe Zelamowitz, of course, "The Saint of the Burning Towers" who chose to wait inside with his disabled friend and refused to leave.
- There were many tributes after September 11. But here's the greatest eulogy I've ever heard or read. It's for Capt. Francis J. Callahan of Engine Company 40 and Ladder Company 35, FDNY, who perished Sept. 11.
- For equally impressive accounts, in 2003 the New York Times offered these reconstructions of some of the heroism displayed by Port Authority workers and others who didn't make it out. Two of those notable others were Frank De Martini, an architect, and Pablo Ortiz, a construction inspector. See also the interactive features in their 9/11 portal page sidebar.
- In 2005, Tigerhawk writes about his cousin Welles Crowther, who died saving people in the towers. He appeared out of the chaos as "the man in the red bandana", issuing crisp instructions, guiding the injured, speaking with command but wearing no official rescue gear. "Anyone who can walk," he said, "walk down the stairs. Anyone who can walk and help someone else, help. There are people here you cannot help anymore, so don't try to." As Tigerhawk's email notes: "Since various agencies that recognize individual heroism (Carnegie, for example) have elected not to make distinctions between the "sheep" and the "sheepdogs" on September 11, we need to find our own comfort in unofficial recognition." Unfortunately.
- Reid "Photodude" Stott did us all very proud with "It's OK, I'm With the Firemen..." Photodude methodically retraces fellow photographer Bill Biggart's final steps, and narrates this utterly riveting story with the help of the recovered images taken from Bill's camera and others.
- The Wall St. Journal won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage. Its offices were in the complex. See esp. Daniel Henninger's article I Saw It All. Then I Saw Nothing.
- GayPatriot: What 9/11 Taught Me About Dancing. He has 3 people to remember from 9/11. Smoking can save your life, a wonderful teacher was lost, and a great American hero was found when he joined his last team. They'd all be proud of GayPatriot's 2004 remembrance. (Hat Tip: Instapundit)
- NY Times' outstanding "Portraits of Grief" series includes obits and anecdotes for everyone who perished on 9/11. Including Dave Barkway. Rest in peace, my friend.
- Gerald Van Der Leun remembers where he was in New York that day. He even kept a diary.
- The falling. Dear Lord. Jeff Jarvis tells us more than we want to know - but the thing is, it's true. It's real. If there's any ray of comfort in this post, it's his explanation of why the NYC Medical Examiner won't classify any of those 200 or so people (!!!) as "jumpers" or "suicides." A seemingly-trivial thing, but in my religion that would matter a lot.
- WeckUpToThees! Some Americans have taken to calling Sept. 11 Patriots Day. Fuz reminds us that the holiday name is already taken, and not to be disturbed.
- 2006 RE: "The Path to 9/11." I think semi-fictional "docu-dramas" are a TERRIBLE way to cover recent political events, of any sort. TV networks should not be making stuff up and presenting it as anything approach a historical narrative. Period. Especially when they could have run equally riveting and 100% true incidents from Clinton's tenure to illustrate his utter failure over almost his entire term in dealing with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Dean Barnett seems to agree.
- Here in 2006, the US military has a web site devoted to the 5th anniversary of the attack. Lots of accounts, profiles, and commentary re: 9/11 and after. Five Years Ago: A day we will never forget.
- The very best 9/11 site done using text rather than pictures and sound? I've given it a lot of thought, and I vote for Jeff Gates' Dichotomy pairings page - very real and very artistic all at the same time.
- Jane Galt's blog was originally "Live from WTC" - written every day from a trailer at Ground Zero. She led us to an outstanding 7MB ushost.net presentation about 9/11, made shortly after the attack. It's no longer online (anyone know where to find a copy?), but for lower bandwidth types, Donald Sensing has a photo set for you.
- I'll leave the final image to Patti Davis, President Ronald Reagan's famously leftist daughter. "There was no announcement, but there was a flag. It was large and tattered, lashed to a wooden pole. The arms waving it were thin and dirty. They belonged to a homeless man whom I had seen before along that same stretch of highway; usually, he held a cardboard sign asking for money. Now, in the early dawn, while California was waking up to what New York already knew - that America had been horribly wounded and might never be the same again - this man had found a flag somewhere and was waving it like a proud soldier, announcing to passersby that he loved the country whose streets he calls home."
- The innovative techniques and approaches used in building the Twin Towers...
- ...And the mechanics and science behind their fall.
- Perhaps you'd prefer a fast graphic depiction? from Tim Wilkinson's work at the University of Sydney.
- USA Today explains what happened and reconstructs the journeys of several survivors. Their investigative journalism here was top notch. Too bad they've pulled or hidden some of their great multimedia links, but the linked articles are uniformly excellent.
- "Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell." Priceless satire, written as only The Onion can. "I was told that these Americans were enemies of the one true religion, and that Heaven would be my reward for my noble sacrifice," said Alomari, moments before his jaw was sheared away by faceless homunculi. "But now I am forced to suckle from the 16 poisoned leathern teats of Gophahmet, Whore of Betrayal, until I burst from an unwholesome engorgement of curdled bile. This must be some sort of terrible mistake...."
- Rand Simberg also has a satire for the 2 year anniversary. It makes its point. In case that point wasn't blindingly clear to you, however, he explains in 2005 and provides a link to other posts he's done in the same genre.
- Also in the "too true to be funny" category is this fictional account, in which the terrorists were caught and 9/11 thwarted. Naturally, ridicule, protests, recriminations, and apologies follow. It was published in The Vallejo Times-Herald (California).
- A firsthand account. From the 51st floor. Draws you in tighter, the more you read it.
- Steven Den Beste explains the initial strategy for the War on Terror, from root causes to goals to approach. Really. We didn't know at the time what it was really costing him to post this stuff. Tigerhawk would later update it, and meet with Den Beste's full approval. Note that the "Plan B" exposition would (will?) be a lot shorter and more to the point.
- For deeper background, here are some reading recommendations: some key articles on our "must-read" list - or would you prefer some key blog posts that summarize the war's goals and stakes in "3 Touchstones, 3 Conjectures"? We've also got a piece that covers America's new post-9/11 foreign policy doctrine, and the scope of the threat we all face. Will The Bush Doctrine, like the Truman Doctrine before it, eventually become bipartisan?
- Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you editorial cartoonists Cox & Forkum. Sometimes a picture really is worth 1,000 words - but the 2 they added make all the difference (Hat Tip: alphapatriot).
- Doktor Frank publishes a post from a punk socialist who lost more than a friend on 9/11 - he lost an entire system of belief. An excellent, emblematic post for something that happened to a lot of people. Found via Judith Weiss, who had a very impressive 9/11 links collection of her own in 2003. Love the new look, Judith.
- I think the Brothers Judd win the prize in terms of impressive link collections, though. Wow. History, articles, essays, key speeches etc. from Sept. 2001. Even a section called "Words & Songs of Comfort and Rage."
- You knew that James Lileks would have something to say. Even by a higher Lileksian standard, his 2002 essay was excellent. Here's 2003. "When I was a kid," it begins, "I was terrified of the End of the World...."
- Jim Cramer's passion isn't confined to MSNBC's Kudlow and Cramer. "The Making of a Hawk" shows a liberal who wasn't just mugged by reality, he was thrashed within an inch of his life and left for dead. Keep reading until you get to the part about his closet.
- Brendan Minter, 2003: "The significant question, however, isn't where chance found each American that day. Rather it is where each American came to stand when it was time to confront the enemy. Where were you?" The question still applies. Where ARE you?
- Writing in 2003, Jeff Jarvis resents the "PBSification" of the War on Terror. By 2004, his quarrel has expanded to include his entire journalistic profession. We are falling. All of us. It's well written and timely. (2006: Five Years On: Tragic proportions: "Cue Jay Rosen quoting Raymond Williams: 'There are no masses, there are only ways of seeing people as masses'...")
- In 2004, Pejman's "1096 Days" post talks about his new home in Chicago. Yes, he lives in a target. No, he doesn't intend to think of it that way. He wants a nation that "...remembers the past, but cherishes the presents of the present day. And she looks expectantly to tomorrow--urging us all the while to follow the example of a man who was a son of England, but who was America's son too..... "Lift up your hearts, all will come right. Out of depths of sorrow and sacrifice will be born again the glory of mankind." "
- California Yankee's son attended a 9/11 memorial in 2004 at George Washington University, and wrote about his realizations. Best lines: "We all require assistance at times. Hope can falter, but others can right it. Lives may end, but others will remember the deeds done. Freedom may fall under attack, but those who live it and believe in it can save it."
- Ken Layne, back in 2002: "How many wanted to do something? I know quite a few of us started these Web logs because we couldn't do anything else, weren't allowed to do anything else. It might seem worthless, typing into a browser window instead of going after terrorists. But it's something." Yes, Ken. In a democracy, where public opinion is the real strategic battleground of this war, it surely is something. Thanks for being part of it with us.
- Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds has been a big part of it. On Sept. 11, 2005, he's also giving shooting lessons to a Marine. Every little bit helps. That post also includes a link to his own writings on the day of Sept. 11, 2001.
- Some good guidance for parents with kids, courtesy of Fred Rogers. When Fred Rogers was a boy and would see scary things on the news, his mother would say to him, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." Yes, we did. One of them, Fred, was you. Had always been you. Thank you. And thank you, too, to all the people out there who helped - and who are still helping.
"Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can't you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors' pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield!"
-- as sung by Rick Rescorla, Sept. 11, 2001. WTC South Tower (full background on the song, incl. music files)
Never forget. Never yield. The stakes are far, far too high.