Today, I remember and mourn the departed from that horrible day, as the last Americans to live their entire lives, until the last desperate hour or so, in something akin to freedom, never knowing or imagining the nannyist police state our homegrown terrorists in our own government would emplace in the aftermath of actual terrorism. And because many of the victims did what real Americans do: they ran into burning buildings, to help their fellow citizens. They took on serial killers with rolled up magazines and butter knives. They died as a sacrifice to a bloated bureaucracy that had grown stupid, fat, and complacent, and wholly abrogated its mission to preserve liberty, and then turned around and made it ten times worse in the aftermath for the free people, rather than the perpetrators.
And that's it.
The endless wars in service of the military industrialist complex, the serial rapes of the Bill of Rights, the demagoguery by an endless conga line of liars, cheats, and thieves, I give no thought of whatsoever.
It's another anniversary for me. That day, that very morning, twenty years ago today, was the first day I was employed to work in the Emergency Department. I'd been a nurse for six years, but spent most of that as the medic on motion pictures and television shows, but having decided that wasn't why I became a nurse, decided some weeks earlier to return to the hospital, and get into the game, get paid for what I was worth, and make an actual difference, instead of merely doing my best to make sure my services were never needed by watching over the pampered playthings of the studio industry.
I had finished all the b.s. HR classes the previous week, and was driving in to work from 5:30AM PDT that fateful Tuesday morning to begin my first shift in the world's busiest E.R. About halfway to my first day at work, the first plane crashed into the Towers. Bound to the limitations of radio, I assumed it might have been another overcast day, and some wandering pilot had clobbered the skyscraper, much like the lost pilot who had done the same thing to the Empire State Building decades before.
Shortly before arriving at work, the second plane hit.
I needed no one in officialdom to confirm for me that we were, at that point, being hit. Two collisions isn't a coincidence.
My fellow Southern Californians, many sitting at home and watching what transpired on a bright, crystal clear morning in the Big Apple on their televisions, had already reached that same conclusion.
I know this, because I was approaching the nexus of three of the busiest freeways in Los Angeles, at a quarter to 7AM local time on a weekday. And I was absolutely alone. It was like being Charlton Heston in The Omega Man: driving on deserted freeways and streets at what should have been the busiest part of the day.
I got to work in time to hear management tell the previous night's shift they were all being held over indefinitely, "because planes may start coming down into downtown Los Angeles any second. We just don't know, and we're Main Trauma receiving for the whole downtown."
And then, shortly afterwards, I watched the Towers collapse, live, on the waiting room TV.
First one. Then the other. Watching what appeared to be tens of thousands of people snuffed out in an instant left an overwhelming dread, and a numbing shock. It made for a pretty memorable first day on the job.
So I've spent most of my professional career with the entire nation at war. I helped train nurses and medics who later deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, again and again, because U.S. big-city trauma centers, at that time, were seeing more gunshot wounds in a month than the Marines saw in the first six months in Afghanistan, so such centers were the keepers of the keys to how to do trauma medicine right. Until endless tar-baby retarded slogfests over there turned into an orgy of maimed and shattered people, from IEDs from here to Hell.
I watched as liberty turned into a police state, rather than common sense precautions. We should have known how wrong and how badly this was going to go, when instead of depriving the terrorists over there of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we did it instead, Japanese Internment Camp levels of wrong, to our own free citizens here. And then doubled down, every single time. Our leaders never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
I watched another generation of vets become the new Vietnam vets, used and abused, for nothing, and discarded both en masse and one by one, in return for giving arms, legs, and souls to a pointless effort, because some jackass thought we could impart democracy to people who can't even read, and then twenty more thought that gender and perversion and whiteness were more important enemies to fight than people willing to fly airplanes into buildings in service of their 6th-century way of thinking.
I even had the chance, as a disaster turned into an endless and pointless meat-grinder, to rejoin the military. They moved the goalposts that far, out of sheer desperation, that guys formerly retirement-age were now inductee age, including me, if I'd wished it. I did the math on that: now single, combat arms, prior-service Marine NCO, trained trauma nurse. And realized I'd probably be shipped to the Baghdad ER after a cursory two-week indoc and OCS, and spend my entire career trying to turn meatsacks blown inside out back into the brave soldiers and Marines they were mere minutes earlier, while dodging incoming rockets and mortars myself. There's a reason I don't work the cancer or burn wards (it's spelled Kobayashi Maru), and the dotMil already had not one, but four bites at the apple for my services from my earliest youth, and managed to not need me for anything more hazardous than killing people off in Cold War "peacetime", with a tedious predictability. I have the multiple DD-214s to prove my readiness to offer my body for this country, but five times was a bridge I could not cross. I stayed where I was. And now, despite all our nationwide efforts, my wars, rather than being distant memories, are the nightmare future of my every waking day, stretching beyond any horizon of things to come that I can see. So don't worry, kids, if you couldn't get to SWAsia. The fallout from the first 9/11 means very soon, the war will be on your doorstep, and it's gonna be an all-skate boogalooapalooza. Guaran-damn-teed.
As one bitterly accurate brilliant wiseass put it this week, we spent two decades, trillions of dollars, and thousands of wasted lives, to replace the Taliban with...the Taliban.
Only government can fuck up something so simple in so colossal a way. It wasn't hubris, or anything so complex. It was purely and simply what happens when the stupidest, most evil, and most power-hungry incompetent and corrupt people in the room have been given the keys to the machines for 40 years, non-stop.
Looking at the America of today, twenty years onwards: if you told me terrorists wanted to destroy the biggest corporations we have, along with the Pentagon, the Capitol, and the White House, and then they did it, the average bystanding American would look at that act, and vote any such groups a perpetual monetary allotment in the high 10 figures per annum, make them our firmest allies, and send them our undying thanks. Because the kakistocracy who thinks they're running this fornication of the original intent have done a much better job of wiping their asses with the Constitution, and setting it on fire, than terrorists would have if they'd crashed into the National Archives with a 20MT nuclear weapon that detonated on impact.
Don't get me wrong, the terrorists of 9/11/01 are perpetrators of one of the vilest crimes in human history. Not for what they did, which was intrinsically horrific and evil enough. But for the avalanche of serial failures of our would-be overlords inflicted on a once-great nation since, from the inside, that have gotten us to where we are now:
So far past Totally Fucked, we can't even see Totally Fucked with a telescope pointed far behind us.
For unleashing that, there is no circle of Hell low enough, nor everlasting enough, nor flames hot enough, to provide suitable recompense for what they unleashed.
And the internal conflict upon which brink we're all teetering - make no mistake, it's going to tip into that abyss - is going to make this country's last Civil War look like a church picnic egg toss.
If you can't mourn that catastrophe, I don't know you, and I don't want to.
May God have mercy on the enemies of this great people. For I shall have none.