Remembering 911 Twenty Years Later

By Ron Munden


For the last nineteen years I have posted the 911 story that I wrote a few days after the planes struck New York and Washington.  As we reached the twenty-year point, I decided it was time to write about my feelings today — twenty years later.

Today’s perspective is Washington-centric.  I have spent very little time in New York but for 20 years I split my time between San Francisco and Washington DC.  During the late 1990s and 2000s, I spent many hours in the Pentagon on the Army’s portion of the “E” ring.  So, I know I passed the location where the third plane struck the Pentagon.

During the period of 1999 though the first six months of 2001. I worked for Booz Allen Hamilton on an Army project. I left the firm in June.  While working for BAH our project team met frequently with Army management in the Pentagon.  On 9/11 my boss, Dr. Jeep Fisher, and two other members of the team were meeting with an Army General in his office at “ground zero” for the plane impact.

In an exchange of emails over the next few days after “911” I learned that all three BAH employees meeting with the General were killed.

So, when I hear “911” my first thoughts don’t go to New York.  They go to the Pentagon because I have an attachment to the place and people directly impacted by the event.

As the United States completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan, I thought – Osama bin Laden achieved his objective.  The event pushed this country into a state of perpetual war and “911” has changed our country forever.  Osama never thought he could defeat the US, but he did feel he could change the way of life in our country.  “911” did that.

Looking back over the last 78 years, I can think of no event that changed the trajectory of the country more.  Sure, Vietnam was bad. It cost many young men their lives and we treated the returning military like shit — but that did not change the fabric of the country.  “911” did.

First, “911” caused people in the United States to decide they were willing to give up their personal freedoms and privacy in order the feel safe.

Second, Americans decided they were willing to send someone else’s son or daughter off to wage a perpetual war because it made them feel safe.

Third, in my opinion without “911” our country would never have invaded Iraq.  “911” allowed the neocons to convince Americans to invade a country and overthrow a government because that would make them feel safe.

“911” made us a warrior nation that fought wars but never won them.

I have one positive memory of “911”.  It brought the country together.  We bought flags.  We sang “God Bless America.” We hugged other Americans without regard to the color or their political party affiliation.

As one commentator said this morning, the country was more united on September 12, 2001, than it had been since World War II.  He went on to say the people of the country have spent the last 20 years destroying that unity.

Sadly, I believe he is right, and this country will never achieve that level of unity again.

The game score for “911”:  Osama bin Laden 1, United States 0


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