9-11 Pentagon

Not a Sweet 16 at all

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I know we have a President who lacks context.  But, its pretty clear the rest of our elected officials are also oblivious.

16 years ago, America took a hit.  And, we’ve done very little to make sure we won’t take another hit.  We are just as susceptible for a terrorist attack on our electric grid, our water supply, our road networks as we were back then.  (Think how America would react if 20 million or 100 million folks lacked power for a few days- and it wasn’t due to a hurricane, but a terrorist attack?    Panic, anyone?)

Sure, we finally killed Osama Bin Laden.  I was at the largest public event in America when that happened.  An extra-inning ballgame of my beloved Phillies.  The Mets players could not figure out why the Philly Phans were cheering (when the Mets came to bat in the 9th inning). But, that still tells us nothing of what we learned.

We’ve abrograted our civil rights covenant with the “people”.  In the name of “being safe”.  But, we’re not safe.  We’ve lost our ability to fly at will anywhere in the country or the world.  We need to be searched (sometimes strip-searched, just as I was a month ago leaving for Frankfurt), we need to check baggage- for a fee! (and the airlines were NOT required to improve their ability to load and unload this cargo, so now we arrive 2 hours early for a flight and wait for an hour after the flight), and we get charged for non-existent security (where some peon examines our driver’s license and computers, after making us wait for 30 minutes in line).

Our young ones are learning that war never ends.  The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war we have ever fought. Proving that nothing is secure.   And, we have a President who implores Americans to fear strangers.

In the meantime, we don’t force the power companies to secure their facilities.  To bury their power lines.  Change the algorithms so that some ding-dong (either employed by them [Federal Regulators to Investigate San Diego Power Outage] or ensconced halfway around the world in Russia) can not shut down our power grid. Our water providers (check Portland, OR or Washington, DC for starters) have reservoirs that can be poisoned by anyone.  National Airport (no, I won’t call it Reagan- and neither does the travel industry since it’s designation is still DCA) allows anyone to approach the runway and take potshots or fire RPG’s  at aircraft- while they disallow private aviation, as a “safety precaution”.  (There are many other examples.)

We can’t approach the White House, the Capitol, and a plethora of other government buildings.  The federal government is abandoning sites it’s used for decades to move further out- even though these new sites lack mass transportation capabilities- so they can have “buffer zones” from the public.  (Yet, they close Walter Reed Hospital, which had the buffer zone and tons of open space,  to move to crowded Bethesda, where the streets were already overlaoded.)

We were united for a brief 15 minutes of fame on 9-11.  That is long gone.  Now, instead of rooting for and building our country together, we make decisions JUST to …. one up the other party.

I was in New York City 16 years ago.  I left right before the planes hit the World Trade Center.  (Yes, I am sorry they were hit, but they were an architectural monstrosity that were erected to continue to charge tolls to the denizens of New York and New Jersey.  After all, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, after building the WTC,  now had tremendous debt to retire.)   Another plane hit the Pentagon shortly thereafter.  Those first three planes were populated with teachers, young students, and techies off on major adventures.

United Airlines Flight 93 might have hit the Pentagon, the Capitol, or the White House.  But, the 40 people on board this flight were more athletic. And, they had the hindsight that the Pentagon and the World Trade Center were already hit.  And, they acted- selflessly- taking that plane down and dying to save the intended target(s) from unmentionable harm.  (My hat is off – and I stand at attention- with their memory. And to the countless police, fire, and rescue who lived- or died- saving others that day.)  And, my deepest regard for the Air National Guard’s Lt. Heather Penny and Colonel Mark Sasseville, who were ordered that fateful morn to scramble  F-16’s from Andrew’s Air Force Base – with NO weapons on board- and to take down Flight 93.  By ramming it (and presumably losing their lives in the process).  After they were in the air, they found they did not have to perform that act, since the passengers did it for them.

Let’s stop repeating the same stupid mistakes.  We can protect ourselves.   If we work together, stop coddling our water, energy, and infrastructure firms,  which don’t want to spend the money to protect OUR assets (after all they bill us for them)- NOW!

My children deserve it.  So do yours!  Let us hearken to the admonition of one of those heroes, Todd Beamer…”Let’s roll!”

Time’s a-wasting!

Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

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