Thursday, September 11, 2008
Like many people I mark this day as one of reflection. Seven years ago the biggest news story - until around 8:30 in the morning eastern time - was Chandra Levy. She was an intern for a California congressman and she had turned up missing. With the hubub of the Clinton administration and interns, the reporters were wondering where Chandra was and what had happened to her.
That all changed one Tuesday morning in September.
I remember I was at my desk in the newsroom and one of the engineers shouted from our audio intake center "hey, turn on CNN, something just hit the World Trade Center."
We all tuned in and were watching when the second plane hit the second tower. We stayed glued to the televisions for the next few days.
I remember how quiet Washington was that afternoon. I had to walk to Union Station to catch the train to Alexandria, where I would catch another train to my home. But walking across the Mall in DC, there was no murmur of traffic. Only silence. I remember the wind was blowing a little bit from the Southwest, because pieces of paper skittled across the Mall as I walked. But it was so quiet.
It would remain quiet for the next few days. The FAA grounded all air travel to make sure there weren't any more terrorist attacks. My home is near Dulles airport, so planes passing overhead was something that we got used to. Sometimes I joke that I should paint a big arrow on my house with the word "Airport" above it.
But not on that Tuesday. Silence. Only the wind, and the leaves beginning to fall, and the bewildered look of people who had lived through a very long day.
The White House sent out a press release today outlining the Bush Administration's accomplishments since September 11, 2001. The development of the Dept of Homeland Security, the reauthorization of the FISA, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
But the capture of Osama Bin Laden was not on there. The bad guys are still around. And even if they aren't they have disciples more than willing to carry on their evil schemes.
And they are evil. Osama Bin Laden was quoted in an interview with a Pakistani reporter shortly after the war in Afghanistan started seven years ago. He said "the bombs may fall and we may be killed, but it does not matter. We love death. In the U.S. they love life. That is the major difference between us."
If that doesn't cause you to wake up, I don't know what it will take.
So when I vote this year - and I will vote - I will remember this day and that Tuesday seven years ago. Who has done the most and who has done the least to change the target painted on our country. I'm not sure I will be able to vote for either candidate.