I was at my desk getting ready for the day on Sept. 11, 2001. The TV in the newsroom was on and that is how I learned of what had happened. (As a side note, the main art on our front page that morning was a picture of a Wisconsin farmer who had grown a giant tomato plant. It seemed pretty trivial before the paper was even a few hours old.)
Tonight, watching a rerun of on the History Channel of “102 Minutes that Changed America,” it seems more painful now than it did even then. Back then, the morning was a blur as we worked to publish an extra edition and plan our front page for the next day.
It may be hyperbole to say so, but it is a day that changed the United States as a nation in ways that aren’t all good. The sense of unity and goodwill that enveloped much of the country nine years ago quickly disappeared. It has been displaced by anger, mistrust, division and shouting. Half of the country blames President George W. Bush for using the terrorist attacks as an excuse to get into a war that in hindsight many think we should not have started. Much of the rest of the country is convinced President Barack Obama is Muslim.
A reader who frequently posts comments on my newspaper’s website today said of Obama: “Barry didn’t even show up in NYC for the 9/11 ceremony. He sent the vice failure instead.”
I don’t think President George W. Bush attended every 9-11 ceremony during his remaining years in office — not that it would matter. And maybe this reader missed the news that Obama DID speak on 9-11 at the Pentagon, which also was attacked on that horrible day nine years ago.
All of it really makes me worry about our future. And I don’t mean that as a comment about Obama. I’m not sure he was the man for the job, but it doesn’t matter any more who we elect as president — half of the nation will only find fault with him or her.
As a nation, I don’t think we’ve fully recovered from this tragedy and I don’t know if we ever will.