Armen Chakmakjian

Anger still fresh 10 years later…

In Random on September 11, 2011 at 5:33 am

I knew someone on flight 11.  I won’t go into the story how I saw them the day before on sept 10th and how I found out the day after.

I will tell you that when I saw the United flight crash into tower 2 my reaction was to say out loud, “this is beyond Sumter, beyond Pearl Harbor.  These guys are nuts…they really don’t know what they’ve just done.”  I hadn’t yet heard about flight 77 and 93…they only confirmed it…

I was very angry.  I was crying for the people on the planes (still not knowing my colleague was on it) and in the buildings as I was driving home early.  Imagine, that day was planned layoffs and an announcement of a pay cut that was in progress when we got word that something was happening.  Of course the company stopped both things temporarily.

I was pissed.  I wanted us to blow up a country, maybe a religious site in a tit-for-tat.

I also knew that the backlash would come.  I remembered the 444 day hostage crisis in 1979.  I knew that I looked middle eastern and would get some trouble, stupid comments, harassment.  At that time I protested that I was born here, I was American.  No I wasn’t Iranian.  No I wasn’t a muslim. I was Catholic.  I was Armenian.   These explanations were to no avail at that time 21 years before.   And it did happen again.

That night I barely slept.  The next day I went into work.  I was told my colleague was on the plane.  I went back to my cube and fell in my chair…shock overwhelmed me.  I called my wife.

This time people pulled out flags.  We put one up on our house.  I put one on my wife’s car to protect her..  I wore my 1700 year old design cross on the outside of my shirt at times.  But I was getting worried about the almost mindless flag waving.  The flag waving was a poor substitute for vigilance against our sworn enemies.

10 years later, I’m watching the 9/11 commission report on CNBC as I write this.  I’m watching the bumbling and bungling of the FAA, the CIA, TWO administrations leading up to that day.   I think about taking off my shoes at the airport last week when I went to Chicago.  I watched my 16-year-old son get his bag swiped on his first flight since he was 1.5 years old.  He never knew a day where you just got on a plane easily.

Life has changed.  Bin-Laden is dead, but the mindless hatred of the United States and the western world still exists.  The Arab spring is NOT a movement leading toward a more egalitarian and democratic set of governments.  It will be 1848 in Europe all over again which led to a deeper darker nationalism that would eventually result in WWI.  This time it will be a massive fall back into the Muslim 15th century of theocracies.  and this time with a suddenly hairy chested China provoking things, oddly in the face of  that same problem on and inside their borders.

On TV now, they just got to Tower 2 going down.  And now Tower 1.  Anger.  A debrief of a police officer who was in tower 1 evacuating people when it came down.

Anger.  And deep sadness.  Anger at our enemies, and the bunglers in the government and our own complacency.  Sadness when I hear the stories of families that talked to loved ones on cell phones minutes before they lost them.  Sadness that we let this happen.

Two blown up countries later, several downed regimes and a world economy stagnated we finally killed the mastermind 15 years too late.  Yes 15 years.

Anger and Sadness…I think of the firefighters over and over, running into the burning towers as people were descending.   Proud of them because they represent what we are all supposed to be as Americans.   We go in when no one else can or will.

We have survived pure hatred.  But it persists.

Eventually we will fix the buildings, the economy, and our restore our way of life…or maybe transcend into a better one.   But in the meantime, we have to be vigilant.    God Bless (and protect) America.


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