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Posts Tagged ‘September 11’

Corner Saloon

Corner Saloon

As the nation pauses today to remember the lives lost 13 years ago…

I’m reminded of how many times I have ask or answered the question, “Where were you on September 11?

The typical answer is geographical. Meaning, where you were physically attributes to your Sept. 11 comprehension or experience, of course, but try reflecting on where you were mentally and the emotions you felt in the aftermath.

On that awful day like most, I was angry and confused and to be candid some helplessness did seep in.

Thirteen years later my resolve has waned a bit and it’s getting harder to remember a time when we haven’t been at war or gearing up for “counter-insurgency.”  Sure there is ample room for debate on how and why America got to where it is today, but on this day I’m feeling sadness about the thousands of people who died on Sept. 11 and the thousands more since. I’m sad for the families who lost so much, and the Americans who have perished.

Corner Saloon Field

Corner Saloon Field

Yesterday the good folks at Paradise H-D and the Corner Saloon put their talented marketing minds together and along with a bunch of motorcycle enthusiasts we joined together at “Taco Wednesday” to remember the 9/11 anniversary and honor those who choose to serve our great country.

Thank you for your service!

Photos taken by author.

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It’s been a disturbing week.

Earlier in the week I watched a program on the History Channel – 102 Minutes That Changed America.   It was video taken from numerous vantage points in NYC spliced together to provide a minute-by-minute recant of the events on September 11, 2001.  Major shout-out to History Channel for running it without the onslaught of a bunch of inappropriate commercials!

Like many of you I remember exactly where and what I was doing on September 11th and the gamut of emotions I went through.  While watching the History Channel replay the events I started to reflect about the eleven years since 9/11 and how much has changed.

Ugly barriers went up around public facilities not to mention how navigating airports has become a new kind of nightmare.  The American lexicon included new words like: Taliban, al-Qaida, extremism, anthrax, axis of evil and ground zero.  There was the federalization of airport security, enhanced border security, Patriot Act and domestic spying through the Presidents Surveillance Program (PSP) and FISA amendments.  You can view a number of law changes HERE.

1st Sgt. Troy Wood

Even more disturbing is how the post 9/11 glow of “lets-all-get-along” has faded.  Nothing has deteriorated faster than the political discourse.  The culpability extends to both parties.  The bitter and divisive assaults have not lifted up the nation in a more principled and honorable direction.  One side shouting that we have a foreign-born, socialist, anti-colonialist, Kenyan-like Muslim who pals around with people bent on destroying the economy through Obamacare.  The other side shouting about an “obstruct and exploit” strategy… sort of a “scorched earth” mentality to win at all costs.  It’s really the same old antics to manipulate the public dialog, rather than elevate it.

Then there was the attack in Libya which killed J. Christopher Stevens the U.S. Ambassador and three other Americas by protesters angry about an American “film” – “The Innocence of the Muslims” – which they deemed hurt their religious feelings and justified murder.  Piling on were the flag burning attacks in Yemen and the U.S. embassy in Egypt.

But, I’ve digressed…

What I wanted to write about is how living in Portland, OR isn’t like living in a military town, where everyone is either a service member or is related to one.  Here in “P-town” we’re all caught up in our own little latte worlds.  And having lived in both types of communities I think it’s somewhat easier for folks in Oregon to be complacent and forget about the war.  Meanwhile service members continue to render salutes and follow orders into fierce battles in Afghanistan… Sure there is ample room for debate about how and why America got to where it is today, but I cringe at the thought that it’s getting harder to remember a time when we haven’t been at war.

Troy Wood (L), James (R)

And speaking of the war, I wanted to provide a shout-out to a couple soldiers, who went under-appreciated each day of their lives while serving in the conflicts.

One of my riding buddies (James) served in Baghdad, Iraq during the onset of the war.  I remember receiving an email from his family with a photograph of him sitting in a boat on the Tigris River.  I posted it up in my work cube.  It made me feel connected and the photograph served to remind me of the harsh conditions he lived and I when I looked at it I would hope for a safe return.  One of his best friends was 1st Sgt. Troy Wood.  They served together in Iraq as combat engineers and bridge builders, but also spent time patrolling the rivers.  It was dangerous and difficult work.  And, I’m fairly certain they didn’t join the military to bow and kowtow to everyone on earth who hates us.

Sadly, I learned this week that Troy passed away as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.  I didn’t know Troy, but as a 20 year Army veteran and dear friend of James, I guarantee you he was a good and generous man.  I’m deeply sorry for your loss James.

During this 11th anniversary week, I suggest that we not only honor the lives lost on 9/11, but that we honor the men and women that have and continue to serve our country – they go under-appreciated each day of their lives.

Photos courtesy of Jake Wood.  Cartoon courtesy of Rick McKee.

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First Responders at Vehicle Fire on I-5

10-years ago changed everything.

That’s the mantra we’ve heard over and over the last couple weeks on the remembrance run up of the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001.  Within 24 hours of the attacks the first newspaper had already labeled the site in New York as “Ground Zero.” If anyone needed a sign that we were about to run off the rails, as a misassessment of what had actually occurred that should have been enough. Previously, the phrase “ground zero” had only one meaning: it was the spot where a nuclear explosion had occurred.

But, in certain areas of our collective lives everything did change.  It was an accurate description. Security increased.  The U.S. went to war in two far-away lands.  Ugly barriers went up around public facilities. Navigating airports became a new kind of nightmare.

And since 9/11, counterterrorism has been the FBI’s No. 1 priority, consuming the lion’s share of its budget—$3.3B, compared to $2.6B for organized crime—and much of the attention of field agents is a massive, nationwide network of informants. After ten years of emphasizing informant recruiting as a key task for its agents, the bureau now maintains a roster of over 15,000 spies—many of them paid $100K per case.

Then there is the heightened “ten year” terror threat.  It was frustrating to search the news for facts. Dozens of stories, all using the same stilted cop jargon, told us to be suspicious of every unattended car and empty milk carton we saw, but to bravely go on about our business. Someone said they heard there were truck searches in downtown Portland. I haven’t seen anything like that, but who knows.   The advice is to be suspicious of suspicous swarthy passers-by. Hows that for being politically correct?!

Some will debate that the event has been used as an excuse for two wars, runaway military spending, and the stripping down of our civil liberties.  For me the saddest thing is that the victims of those suicidal monstrosities have been misused ever since.  While I agree that it’s not a good idea to waste a lot of time nursing hurt feelings. Or is it a good idea to wallow in the past either. Too much of the 9/11 ceremonies seems to be doing just that. That and photo ops for our leaders.  Don’t get me wrong, the morning of September 11, 2001, gave me one of the biggest shocks of my life. It’s right up there with the day Kennedy was shot. I can give you minute details of where I was, what I was doing, how I found out what had happened, and how shaken I was.

But does anyone else find these overdetermined celebration and remembrances troubling.  We do need to remember the day we were attacked and should never forget the fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters who lost their lives or the families that lost loved ones on that day.  We should never forget the first responders who rushed to the aid of NY that day.  But, shouldn’t the remembrances be more private?

Independent of how you come down on the topic, the sad truth after spending wasting BILLIONS is that we are not any closer to safety and our way of life in the U.S. is attacked every day in so many ways. From desperate people who believe that guns and intimidation are the only way to maintain their self esteem to the undocumented drunk driver with an attitude that they are above the law.  The one thing which doesn’t seem to change is watching the dishonest manipulation of our politicians by those with selfish agendas and those politicians running with open hands and empty values with delusions of power and greatness toward the highest bidder.  (Latest example: Geoff Morrell goes from the Pentagon to BP)

All of that said, I do want to express the sadness I feel for those who lost special people on 9/11 and in our ongoing wars.

Photo courtesy of OSP… First responders on scene of a truck fire on I-5 this week.

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Sunset H.O.G. Poker Run

The attacks of September 11, 2001 shaped the nation and the course of history.

Prior to this date most people would not have considered the possibility of an enemy attack on U.S. soil.  Nine years later it’s easy to forget that 2,749 lost their lives and seven buildings were destroyed. Recently President Obama announced the withdrawal of 90,000 combat troops from Iraq, marking the “end of America’s combat mission”, but who would have believed we would have a death toll of over 4,000 troops from the two wars?

I recall the events not to dwell on the tragedy, but to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, to honor the veterans and to remind myself that terrorist fanatics want to destroy the very principles of freedom and democracy that I write about on this blog. Sure the posts are slanted toward issues more relevant to motorcyclists, but it’s the same principles of freedom none the less.

We all remember where we were and what we were doing that day.  After watching the towers collapse, seeing the Pentagon and the western Pennsylvania crash I remember feeling a sense of desolation and anger.  But, I also remember how proud and inspired the first responders as well as Rudi Giuliani made me feel by their actions.  I remember the World Series just 6 weeks later in New York, the opening pitch by George Bush and a stadium full of people determined to not let this act change everything.

And speaking of freedoms, I’m not even a little conflicted about the $100M development of a mosque near ground zero.  I think it’s in poor taste and no matter how you spin it; the people behind the mosque are using our open arm kindness as a weakness.  And here is where hipsters will inundate my inbox with missives telling me I don’t know jack, that I’d better do the public a favor and stop writing, but pure and simple it’s an insult to the victims of 9/11.

There are and will be many motorcyclists paying tribute on September 11th.  There is “America’s 9/11 Ride” that raises money for families of active-duty first responders’ children.  There is the “Ride With The 40” which honors the hero’s of Flight 93 and lots at a the local level.  Here in the northwest is the 18th Annual Sunset HOG 9/11 Poker Run which is open to all flavors of motorcyclists.

I’m not sure yet if I’ll just watch a documentary or participate in one of the rides.  I plan to do something to support the victims and remember the attack.

Photo courtesy of Sunset H.O.G.

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FireTruck-FlagLike many of you I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on the morning of 9/11.

The sunrise was starting to peek out and you could tell it was going to be a beautiful fall September morning in 2001.  I was up early preparing for a flight to the bay area and in an odd and very uncharacteristic behavior I had the TV on — which I never do — as I prepped.  The announcer interrupted the show about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center and in a few minutes I watched the 2nd plane crash.  I didn’t know what was going on, but knew it wasn’t no accident.  I have friends who work in the city and I went to the PC and sent off a couple emails.  I never did make my flight and remember feeling a sense of violation and anger at both the perpetrators and our governments failure as I watched the TV news for most of the day.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 years ago.  The Alan Jackson song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” best sums up my feelings today and I wanted to dedicate this post to the victims and hero’s of 9/11.  And while we’re at it let’s not forget the military on the battlefield.

Photo courtesy of NJ Monthly.com

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