It's strange--I spent nearly a year living in the suburbs of D.C., and in all that time it's almost impossible to remember many days that were gray or overcast. It snowed maybe twice in the winter, there was occasional rain. Mostly, though, the sky remained a dazzling blue.
After that terrible day in September, of course, even that beautiful sky seemed threatening.
The ten year anniversary of 9/11 is playing out in depressingly predictable fashion, with trite retrospective TV specials and memorial events that just go through the motions and, most ludicrously, t-shirts and placards proclaiming ridiculous homilies like "We Remember" and "Never Forget".
Like it's even possible to forget. Even more terrible than the day itself was the lingering fear, still in the air for days and weeks and months thereafter. Constantly scanning the sky just in case, or flinching at every backfiring car, or steering clear of every unattended package in Metro stations.
Just living through those days took its toll. Our hearts beat faster, waiting for the other shoe to drop. And if anyone I knew had died in the attacks, even a pacifist lefty like me would have been in full "Let's kill those dirty bastards" vengeance mode. But through it all, I was never so naive as to think that what happened was somehow unprovoked. While we in this country believed we were under attack, many people in other nations simply thought of it as retaliation.
How could we go around meddling in the affairs of other countries without thinking it would eventually come back home? This nation has done some pretty unsavory things, ostensibly for the cause of freedom and democracy--though just as often for profit--while too many of its citizens remained unaware. We've made a lot of enemies. Can we honestly claim surprise when some of them decide to fight back?
At the time, asking such a question was considered tantamount to treason. To this day, some would claim my views as part of the "Blame America" crowd. Except...I'm not claiming there's any blame to be had. No one would ever say we deserved to be attacked. But it happened anyway. Sometimes, to quote that great American icon Clint Eastwood, deserve's got nothing to do with it.