Why Americans ‘dwell’ on Nine-Eleven

A few days ago, I was scanning through some Facebook posts when I came across a question that made my blood boil: “Why do Americans dwell on 9/11?”

Nine-Eleven memorial. Cos Cob Park, Cos Cob, CT.
Sunlight behind the 9/11 Memorial at Cos Cob Park, Cos Cob, CT. June 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I wasn’t sure whether it was posted out of ignorance, malice, or both. I started to reply — and then I realized I wasn’t sure what to say. Now, as I watch and listen to the annual reading of the victims’ names at Ground Zero — as I do every year — I will try to explain.

Of course, I can’t speak for all Americans. I can only speak for myself. So I will start by saying that as someone with family that has survived recent wars, I am well aware that there are places in the world where events the magnitude of Nine-Eleven, and worse, happen every single day. Given that, I can see why some people can’t understand — and some may even resent — America’s preoccupation with the terrorist attacks on our country on September 11, 2001.

That being stated, here’s why I will never forget that day, or the days, weeks, months and years that followed. I will never forget it because I was living and working in the New York City suburbs on that fateful day. Like millions of Americans, I witnessed the horror and devastation on TV as it unfolded. Watched in horror as the planes struck and  bodies fell from the wreckage of the Twin Towers less than 30 miles from home. Screamed as the buildings collapsed, another hijacked plane hit the Pentagon and the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93 paid the ultimate price for averting further devastation. Wept as the world changed.

As seen at the 9/11 Memorial. New York, NY. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I will never forget it because I was a reporter tasked with writing about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks and their effects in the small, tight-knit community of Rye, N.Y. There were so many stories of close calls and tremendous loss. There so much sadness. So much grief. So much anger.  There were so many tales of heroism. And there were tales of resolve.

In the face of tremendous adversity, we were united. On that day, and in the weeks that followed, all lives mattered. There was no black versus white. There was no left versus right. We were all Americans. We helped those in need regardless of their race, religion, gender or political ideology. We stood as one.

Today I grieve for strangers. I also grieve for friends who were directly affected by the tragic events that transpired 16 years ago. I grieve for my country — a country ravaged by divisiveness and hate.

On September 11, 2001, and every year since, we have sounded the rallying cry, “Never forget.”

I am afraid we already have.

In NY and NJ, a bomb by any other name is still a bomb

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

BOMB (noun) — “an explosive device fused to detonate under specified conditions” Merriam-Webster.

BOMB (verb used with object) — “to explode by means of a bomb or explosive” Dictionary.com

BOMB (verb used without object) — “to explode a bomb or bombs Dictionary.com

If the circumstances weren’t so serious, the mainstream media’s reaction to the weekend bombing that injured 29 people in New York City would have been laughable. Instead it was just sad.

Rather than focusing on the matter at hand, the media obsessed over:

  • Donald Trump’s use of the word “bomb” in connection with the incident.
  • Whether he used the term prematurely.
  • If and when Hillary Clinton used the same term.
  • Whether the use of the term was appropriate, no matter who said it or when.

Well, here’s a newsflash (sarcasm fully intended): When something goes “boom” and then disintegrates into a billion pieces that fly through the air damaging property and hurting lots of people in the process, it is pretty safe to say it was a bomb.

Black and white photograph of New York Police Department barriers taken by Alexandra Bogdanovic
NYPD barriers. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Of course I suppose one could also argue that by definition an explosion also goes “boom.” However an explosion can be triggered by almost anything. A gas main leak, faulty wiring or even a bomb.

As a former police reporter, I understand why the media initially referred to the incident as an explosion and hesitated to call it something else. I also understand why the media was legally obligated to use words such as “alleged” and “apparent” in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

But I digress. Once all the talk about the use of the word “bomb” got old, the media-fueled speculation turned to whether or not the bombings in Chelsea and Seaside Park, New Jersey, were terrorist acts, whether they were linked, who was responsible and so forth.

Meanwhile, local, state and federal law enforcement officials — who are routinely castigated by the mainstream media — were doing their jobs. A comprehensive investigation, including analysis of evidence found within a few blocks of the Chelsea bomb blast — resulted in the arrest of a New Jersey man on Monday morning.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, the suspect in the bombings, is now facing multiple charges stemming from the gun battle that transpired before police took him into custody.

Score one for the good guys…