A Liberal Clock Cleaning Of A Fringe Conservative

A few days ago, someone I know posted some pretty ridiculous stuff to their wall on Facebook.  Lots of people do that, but what I am finding out lately is that Facebook is becoming the Internet soap box for political discourse.  Yet, what I am also finding is that the lunatic Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh/Fox News fringe who love carrying guns around in public (just in case they need to make sure their double coupons are properly counted at the supermarket, or stop someone from pulling the plug on grandma) somehow manages to shout down intelligent discourse even on there!  It’s usually through sneaky ways: a quick blurb on your wall while you’re talking about a new recipe or putting you on a distribution list of one of those myriad “notes” that famously get you drawn in to making up lists like, “25 Things That Annoy Me About You”.  Well last week, I received this little tidbit which annoyed me to absolutely no end.  It’s not the politics that got me as much as the factual inaccuracy and subcurrent of racism throughout:

Obama’s First Seven Months: Accomplishments
1. Offended the Queen of England.
2. Bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia.
3. Praised the Marxist Daniel Ortega.
4. Kissed Socialist Hugo Chavez on the cheek.
5. Endorsed the Socialist Evo Morales of Bolivia.
6. Sided with Hugo Chavez and Communist Fidel Castro against Honduras.
7. Announced we would meet with Iranians with no pre-conditions while they’re building their nuclear weapons.
8. Gave away billions to AIG also without pre-conditions.
9. Expanded the bailouts.
10. Insulted everyone who has ever loved a Special Olympian.
11. Doubled our national debt.
12. Announced the termination of our new missile defense system the day after North Korea launched an ICBM.
13. Released information on U.S. Intelligence gathering despite urgings of his own CIA director and the prior four CIA directors.
14. Accepted without comment that five of his cabinet members cheated on their taxes and two other nominees withdrew after they couldn’t take the heat.
15. Appointed a Homeland Security Chief who identified military veterans and abortion opponents as “dangers to the nation.”
16. Ordered that the word “terrorism” no longer be used and instead refers to such acts as “man made disasters.”
17. Circled the globe to publicly apologize for America’s world leadership.
18. Told the Mexican president that the violence in their country was because of us.
19. Politicized the census by moving it into the White House from the Department of Commerce.
20. Appointed as Attorney General the man who orchestrated the forced removal and expulsion to Cuba of a 9-year-old whose mother died trying to bring him to freedom in the United States.
21. Salutes as heroes three Navy SEALS who took down three terrorists who threatened one American life and the next day announces members of the Bush administration may stand trial for “torturing” three 9/11 terrorists by pouring water up their noses.
22. Low altitude photo shoot of Air Force One over New York City that frightened thousands of New Yorkers.
23. Sent his National Defense Adviser to Europe to assure them that the US will no longer treat Israel in a special manner and that Israel might be on their own with the Muslims.
24. Praised Jimmy Carter’s trip to Gaza where he sided with terrorist Hamas against Israel.
25. Nationalized General Motors and Chrysler while turning shareholder control over to the unions and freezing out retired investors who owned their bonds. Committed unlimited taxpayer billions in the process.
26. Passed a huge energy tax in the House that will make American industry even less competitive while costing homeowners thousands per year.
27. Announced nationalized health care “reform” that will strip seniors of their Medicare, cut pay of physicians, increase taxes yet another $1 trillion, and put everyone on rationed care with government bureaucrats deciding who gets care and who doesn’t.  Bloomberg reports: Daschle says, “Health care reform will not be pain free. Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them,” while former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm says seniors have “a duty to die.”

OK, I think you get the point that by this time I was beside myself…so I did the only thing I could do.  I wrote an e-mail.  I decided not to send this off like I wanted to, but since I know this individual reads this blog, I’ll just let my prose take care of everything here:

*******************

A,

Rather than post this and get into a long and probably nasty exchange over the Internet in a public forum, I decided to do this privately and correct you on many of your perceived misconceptions of the first 7 months of this Administration.

Has it been perfect?  No.  Am I happy with everything he’s done?  Certainly not; in fact, as a bleeding heart liberal I don’t think he’s done enough and has sold the Left wing of his Party out to many of the Special Interests that dominate Washington politics.  I think he is too eager to please Republicans when it is clear they do not want to negotiate in good faith; I think he should just ram through legislation, just like the Republicans did when THEY had control of Congress.  Everyone seems to forget that was the way things were run.  Then again, Republicans can’t stand the fact that they LOST the last election and are so hell bent on destroying the Democrats that they don’t give a damn about the country.

Take a good look at just who is destroying America: a bunch of rich white men, corporations, and ignorant white Southern men who burn crosses on front lawns in their spare time.  You and the rest of the middle class who actually believe the trash and nonsense that comes out of Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Fox News and every conspiracy site on the Internet are being manipulated.  You THINK you are saving the country…you are in fact trying to defeat programs that are designed to HELP you.  You are instead maintaining the status quo of keeping the same rich white men and corporations in power.

Oh, and another thing: you guys can’t stand the fact that a black man is in the White House.

Maybe not you personally, but a hell of a lot of your fellow Right Wing Americans do.  Just look at the signs that LITERALLY wish DEATH on this man…is THAT America?  Is THAT the way we as Americans are supposed to have a dialog and constructively work together to protect this democracy?  More importantly, is that the way we act as human beings?  When was the last time you saw a gun brought to an anti-Bush, Reagan, or Nixon rally?  NEVER.  Either because they would be arrested for violating SOMETHING (other than a gun law which allows you to carry openly in certain states) or because they would exercise the common sense notion that bringing a gun into a large crowd of people is DANGEROUS.  And disrespectful to the President.

When was the last time you heard a member of Congress interrupt a speech by the President during a Joint Session of Congress?  NEVER.  It is against EVERYTHING we believe in, because we as Americans have a civil dialog (unlike the British who allow such outbursts.  They have their place, and I must admit I find Parliament amusing, but you better not damned well interrupt the Queen).  What that Congressman did was unforgivable; I would still say this if someone did that do former President GW Bush…and believe me, I’m sure there were plenty of folks in that chamber that wanted to do the same thing…we just don’t do that.  Add to the mix that the man is from South Carolina (first State to secede from the Union), is a member of the Sons Of The Confederacy, and as a State Legislator worked to keep the Confederate Flag on the SC State Flag.  (I find the Confederate Flag as offensive as the Nazi flag because it represents treason to this nation.  It represents a lifestyle that was abhorrent.  Moreover, it is the flag of a vanquished ENEMY.  Do you see anyone flying Nazi flags so openly?)

And this is only the tip of the iceberg of what is wrong now; the way we are disagreeing with one another.  It is one thing to disagree with policy and concepts, it is another thing to call the man a Nazi and a Socialist…which is ironic because they’re on opposite sides of the political spectrum.  (I hope you guys just pick one already).  It is another thing to wish death on this man…and bring signs that say the same to a rally all while wearing a GUN.  (Look, I support the Second Amendment.  I am all for gun ownership; and although I choose not to own one, I will not impede your right to obtain one).  When I saw a sign at the DC rally last week (where the crowd was officially placed at 75,000; not 7.5 million or whatever Glenn Beck said it was.  Another thing…where was HE on 9/12 for the 9/12 project?  Afraid some Left winger with a gun and a sign might actually go after him?) that read “We didn’t bring our guns (this time)”, I was mortified.  THAT was a DIRECT THREAT to the President of The United States…and this is OK?  The fact that people are openly advocating the overthrow of the legitimately elected government of the United States is FRIGHTENING.

Speaker Pelosi (no stranger to violence and political assassinations having witnessed the terrible tragedy of the death of a Mayor and a Supervisor in San Francisco in the 70s) needs to be taken seriously in her warnings against violence.  God forbid the unthinkable happens, you will have chaos and pandemonium the likes this country has never seen.  You will have panic and race riots.  You will have Martial Law and suspension of the Constitution to prevent a revolution…and then you may very well have violent revolution.

And that will only lead to the curb of freedom even more, because the “winners” of that revolution will be an extremist regime that will make the Nazis look like amateurs.

And We The People…shall be but a distant memory.

Here’s what’s right and wrong about your “accomplishments”:

Obama’s First Seven Months: Accomplishments

  • Offended the Queen of England.

It was his wife who accidentally grabbed the Queen’s royal posterior, not he.  And for the record, just WHICH country did we have a revolution against, and why are you concerned with having offended a direct descendant of King George III?

  • Bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia.

Observing a customary greeting for the King of Saudi Arabia is offensive?  And you were concerned about Queen Elizabeth’s ass?

  • Praised the Marxist Daniel Ortega.

He’s done a hell of a lot more for the people of Nicaragua than any right-wing regime ever did.  Perhaps that is why he was ELECTED TWICE by the people in free and fair elections, because you see…Nicaragua is a democracy.  Oh, and he was also voted out of office twice as well.

  • Kissed Socialist Hugo Chavez on the cheek.

Again, a customary greeting…and we’re still with the nice international protocol violations, huh?  Too bad you guys weren’t concerned with niceties demonstrated during the 9/12 March of the Wooden Soldiers.

  • Endorsed the Socialist Evo Morales of Bolivia.

He did not endorse ANYONE.  The President does not openly endorse any candidate in a foreign election.  Get your facts straight.

  • Sided with Hugo Chavez and Communist Fidel Castro against Honduras.

Well, perhaps the right-wing junta that overthrew the legitimately elected government of Honduras didn’t exactly thrill him or the rest of the other nations who signed a United Nations statement condemning the action.  You know, guys like Germany and England and Australia…our allies.

  • Announced we would meet with Iranians with no pre-conditions while they’re building their nuclear weapons.

The UN Inspector who was sent to Iran confirms they are NOT building weapons…however, it does not mean they don’t have a hidden bunker somewhere where they are.  Since you don’t know and don’t have proof, and you want to prevent this from happening anyway, YOU TALK.  Oh, and what the hell are we SUPPOSED to say, “We’ll only talk with you if you don’t stop building the weapons you’re not building”?  If you want to obtain your goal, you TALK.  Or would you prefer that we bomb their nuclear facilities off the planet, thus sending harmful radiation and fallout into the atmosphere where it will contaminate the food chain, and perhaps kill your own children eventually…as well as the hundreds of thousands such a strike would cause the Iranians.  Or are they not worth being Human Beings because they are Muslim and they deserve to die anyway?

  • Gave away billions to AIG also without pre-conditions.

That my dear, was George Walker Bush and Hank Paulsen  the previous President and Secretary of the Treasury who gave a final parting gift to their rich supporters, not President Obama

  • Expanded the bailouts.

The additional Bank funding was authorized by the PREVIOUS Congress (at the pleading of Bush and Paulsen) in increments.  If you recall, there were hearings early in the year that made sure they needed the additional funding…hearings authorized by THIS President.

  • Insulted everyone who has ever loved a Special Olympian.

OK, the guy did a bad thing here; I agree.  He apologized.  Like you never insulted me at one time and didn’t realize it until the words came out of your mouth?  Please…

  • Doubled our national debt.

No, that would be President Bush who did that…you know, the Conservative who believes in fiscal responsibility…the guy who loved tax cuts so much he forgot how to pay for a war that he started, and Medicare Part D just for starters.  Oh yeah, he was left with a SURPLUS by President Clinton; he left Obama a few trillion in the hole.

  • Announced the termination of our new missile defense system the day after North Korea launched an ICBM.

A 5 BILLION DOLLAR missile system for 10 missiles in EUROPE…one that is based on technology that has not been perfected yet…in favor of one costing half as much that would deploy missiles on ships in the area of Iran as opposed to putting them in Poland where the Russians would feel a bit threatened.  You know, like we did in 1962 when they tried to put missiles in Cuba.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready for my gamma ray bath and incineration just yet.  Oh, Korea is a separate issue and is in no way linked to this action.

  • Released information on U.S. Intelligence gathering despite urgings of his own CIA director and the prior four CIA directors.

Just like Valerie Plame was outed by Scooter Libby as a CIA Agent in violation of Federal Law, or was this a legitimate and legal decision by the President of The United States as Commander In Chief?

  • Accepted without comment that five of his cabinet members cheated on their taxes and two other nominees withdrew after they couldn’t take the heat.

OK…bad decisions, and bad vetting process.  I agree with you here.

  • Appointed a Homeland Security Chief who identified military veterans and abortion opponents as “dangers to the nation.”

I’d be interested in seeing where the comment was taken from and the complete context of it.  You guys are famous for taking things out of context.  Another thing, it’s at least less harmful than appointing a man whose only experience in life was raising Arabian Horses as head of FEMA.  His bungling cost thousands of people their homes and hundreds are dead because of “Heck of a Job Brownie” in New Orleans after Katrina.  I’d rather have the bad words said…at least they didn’t kill anyone.

  • Ordered that the word “terrorism” no longer be used and instead refers to such acts as “man made disasters.”

HUH?  Last time I heard, he uses the word “terrorism” whenever applicable.  Is he not using it ENOUGH for you guys?  I mean, to me, wearing a gun to a Presidential Rally holding a threatening sign is terrorism.  Killing a man because he performs late term abortions is terrorism.  Should he have used the word then?  I think so.

  • Circled the globe to publicly apologize for America’s world leadership.

More like made overtures to the world that we were willing to talk and protect our freedom and anyone else’s…but not at the point of a gun or bomb them out of existence.

  • Told the Mexican president that the violence in their country was because of us.

Again, CONTEXT.  This was a statement that since we are the PRIMARY CONSUMERS of MEXICAN DRUGS, INDIRECTLY we are responsible for some of the violence.  Just like if you buy cigarettes on the Internet (which I don’t do) the money may support terrorism.  It’s a fact.

  • Politicized the census by moving it into the White House from the Department of Commerce.

And the price of tea in China is…?  Whatever Administration is in charge politicizes the Census; Bush did it…it’s all a fact of life.  Deal with it, you’ll sleep better in the morning.

  • Appointed as Attorney General the man who orchestrated the forced removal and expulsion to Cuba of a 9-year-old whose mother died trying to bring him to freedom in the United States.

I despised what Janet Reno authorized be done in that incident.  He was only carrying out the orders of his superiors…you know, the same way CIA operatives were when they tortured people.

  • Salutes as heroes three Navy SEALS who took down three terrorists who threatened one American life and the next day announces members of the Bush administration may stand trial for “torturing” three 9/11 terrorists by pouring water up their noses.

Waterboarding is TORTURE, not just pouring water up their noses.  We tortured people in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions that we pledged to uphold as part of International Law.  We went rogue, and in the process lost our soul as a nation and in my opinion, anyone who authorized, ordered, and carried out waterboarding or any other technique classified as torture should be prosecuted as a war criminal, as provided for in the Geneva Conventions.  Oh, and he was absolutely right to salute those Navy SEALS.

  • Low altitude photo shoot of Air Force One over New York City that frightened thousands of New Yorkers.

HUGE MISTAKE…I was mortified and offended.  And so was he; that’s why the idiot who authorized it is now on Uncle Sammy’s bread lines.

  • Sent his National Defense Adviser to Europe to assure them that the US will no longer treat Israel in a special manner and that Israel might be on their own with the Muslims.

And Israel should be treated as “special” because…?  They’re Jewish and make good brisket over there?  Or because the Zionists seek to obtain solely for themselves a piece of land “given” to them by a non-corporeal entity whose existence cannot be proved?  I’ll tell you what, God told me I can have your house.  I’ll be over tomorrow and kick you and the boys out and let you fend for yourselves across the street or endlessly roam the streets of Rosebank.  THAT’s what the Jews have done to the Palestinians…and they are systematically KILLING them, simply because they are a different faith.  Just in case you haven’t realized it yet, you are NOTHING to the Zionists either because you are Catholic and not Jewish.  The Jewish State (according to the Zionists) is supposed to remain PURE.  You want to talk about Nazis?  Look no father than the end of Bibi’s nose.  They have The Bomb, have tons of money donated to them by the Jewish population over here (duped into believing that all of the Jewish People are at risk of annihilation from everyone)…let them fend for themselves.  By the way, there is a VAST difference between a Jew and a Zionist.  It’s like the difference between being German or a Nazi.  I know Jews who HATE the Zionists with a passion and want nothing more than to live in peace with the Palestinians.

  • Praised Jimmy Carter’s trip to Gaza where he sided with terrorist Hamas against Israel.

And he SHOULD have praised his trip because it was humanitarian…they were being SLAUGHTERED for DAYS by Israel.  Or are they worthless because they are Muslim?  And if you were getting slaughtered, wouldn’t you try and fight back?  One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter…just ask George Washington.

  • Nationalized General Motors and Chrysler while turning shareholder control over to the unions and freezing out retired investors who owned their bonds. Committed unlimited taxpayer billions in the process.

Congratulations, you own a car company!  Why?  Because if they went under the entire economy could have collapsed; thousands of manufacturing jobs (auto workers, the guys who make the parts, Dealerships) would have been lost.  Yes, there were job losses, but nowhere near as bad as if there was no bail out.  And all of this came about because GM and the other guys ran THEIR companies into the ground by making poor business decisions.  The shareholders of GM and Chrysler are also responsible because they didn’t throw the bastards out of the Board Room.

  • Passed a huge energy tax in the House that will make American industry even less competitive while costing homeowners thousands per year.

I have NO clue what you’re talking about here…evidence please?

  • Announced nationalized health care “reform” that will strip seniors of their Medicare, cut pay of physicians, increase taxes yet another $1 trillion, and put everyone on rationed care with government bureaucrats deciding who gets care and who doesn’t. Bloomberg reports: Daschle says, “Health care reform will not be pain free. Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them,” while former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm says seniors have “a duty to die.”

Medicare will NOT be touched; Seniors will NOT have their benefits stripped.  Medicare is about as sacred as the Pope to these politicians and to the American People…it ain’t going nowhere…or granny will get her gun.  The cost of the Health Insurance Reform program approaches $1 trillion (it’s estimated at $856 billion) OVER 10 YEARS.  It’s COST not TAX…a VAST difference.  No one will be deciding who gets what and when granny gets the plug pulled.  You think this would have died already…you guys just love keeping up the lies, don’t you.  FALSE, FALSE, FALSE.

Hopefully, I’ve enlightened you to the Liberal view of things…and all this was done without a nasty sign or at the point of a gun.  You know, through intelligent discourse, like it’s supposed to be…not mob rule.

K.

********************

As you can imagine, that took quite a while to write, and with each word that came off the keyboard, I just got angrier and angrier.  I am realizing that once again, the Right is using the politics of Fear and Division in order to attempt to regain power, through any means possible.  And the way you hear it from some people, through revolution if need be.  This is not the way we do things in this country.  We are the envy of the world every four or eight years as we have a peaceful transition of  power from one Administration to another.  In many parts of the world, this happens at the point of a gun or not at all.  Just because you are not happy with the results of the last election does not give you the right to overthrow the government.  Trust me, if my liberties were being taken away or my rights under the Constitution were declared null and void, I’d be out there fighting with all I had.  This Administration hasn’t done a damned thing for anyone to be concerned about.  If anything, I think they need to put their foot down more and push through their agenda as much as possible given the sizable numbers of Democrats in Congress.  I think that The President is on the verge of waking up and taking the reins from some of his  advisers who are doing an awful job (Rahm Emmanuel, anyone?) and is going to start playing some hardball.  Hopefully, the Democrats won’t follow with their usual habit of forming a circular firing squad.

The way you hear it from the Right Wingnuts, you’d think that we’re on the verge of Nuremberg rallies, bund meetings, and goose-stepping in the streets.  Oh wait!  That was the Bush Administration!

“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.” – John Lennon

Yet Another Day In September

Somewhere in Washington later on this afternoon, there will be a gathering of people, assembled at the behest of Right-Wingnut Glenn Beck.  A march on DC for the “9/12 Project”, a group that claims to want to reestablish that feeling of oneness and patriotism we all felt the day after 9/11.  To see Beck describe it on his television program, you would think that the idea came forth from the heavens in the form of a celestial vision, or perhaps he saw a burning bush by his apartment building.  We are going to see a bunch of loyal, patriotic Americans who want to take their country back from the evil oppression of President Obama and the Democratic Party who they’ve demonized into Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists…or is that Joe Stalin and the Communists?  Oh well, Communist or Socialist…it doesn’t really matter, because they’re not American anyway.

Please…get a life Beck.  You’re giving us recovering alcoholics a bad name.  You’re supposed to see all the crazy shit when you’re drinking or detoxing, not when you’re sober.  Oh…I forgot; you’re a Mormon and think you get your own planet when you die.  Silly me.  Can I have the number of your cosmic real estate agent, because I’d like a lovely planet not too close to the sun, but one with some nice beaches and attractive women playing bad drunken calypso music?  Yes, the man who can’t even spell “Oligarchy” correctly and who just a few short years ago complained about the sad state of the American Health Care system after a brush with death is going to make sure you get that warm fuzzy feeling you had the day after 9/11/01.

Look, I don’t know how you felt, but I was still trying to make some sense of everything.  I had just been through and survived a terrorist attack.  I had spent a good portion of the night in the hospital talking to psychiatrists and getting pushed, pinned, stuck, and prodded by a team of physicians who thought I could have been carrying some sort of secret plague after I was exposed to  the dust cloud.  I got a few fitful hours of sleep, but I was awakened by a nightmare at 2pm…and I couldn’t get to sleep again for another 24 hours.  So let me tell you how I felt the day after 9/11, sir…let me tell you about how “warm and fuzzy” I felt…

I was shaking constantly.  I was breaking down crying for no reason and at the strangest times.  I was seeing flashbacks of people jumping off buildings because they would rather have died that way than be burned to a crisp.  I was jumping out of my skin when I heard an engine backfire or if something dropped in the kitchen.  And worst of all, I was drinking like a madman trying to get it all to stop…and to forget about the day before.  Trust me, I was not waving a flag and being a patriotic robot.  I was a damned disaster; a shell of a human being, a frightened man who had just lost everything he had mentally in a few short hours.  It was the start of a disability that I still have and prevents me from working to this day…and it was the start of a decent into madness and alcoholism that was to last for another 5 years.

And you want me to go back to the person I was on that day?  Are you INSANE?  I very much want to go back to the person I was on 9/10…a man with a successful career and a family man who just had his second child.  A man who was finally growing up and coming to terms with his life.  A man who would go to work day in and day out to support his family with no questions asked.  A man who went to work one day and never came home again quite the same way.

Sure, Glenn Beck…perhaps in another parallel universe I felt the way you felt; but not in this one.  Please, Beck…do me a favor.  Go back to slugging a few because at least I’ll know where this insanity is coming from.

“Never allow someone to be your priority, while allowing yourself to be their option” – Anonymous

Eight Years On: Memories Of Two Towers Struck Down

I am a Survivor of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

There are moments in History where you know where you were when they happened, and sometimes you become a part of History yourself.  I’ve been to some famous sporting events, watched the first man walk on the moon, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I was on the Tappan Zee Bridge when I found out Miles Davis had passed away, and I had to pull over once I got off the bridge, and cried my eyes out while “My Ship” played softly on my car stereo.  There are moments when you see History and you choose History.  Then there are moments when History chooses you.

When I woke up that Tuesday Morning, I had no idea what was about to happen to me; nor did I have any idea of how much my life would change over the course of the next eight years…but that was a moment History chose for me to be a part of.  It began a very long journey into depression and alcoholism, recovery and triumph over my inner demons.  It began a period of self-discovery and awareness that was not there before in my 40 years on the planet.  But all of this is for a later time.

What I would like to do now is reprint a piece I wrote a few days after 9/11 while I was still very much in shock and totally unsure of what happened and where I was going next.  It has been printed on several web sites over the years, and it resides in the Library of Congress as part of a collection of written history from eyewitnesses and survivors of that day.  It is graphic and intense, but it is MY story of that day…the day when my world, and everyone else’s changed forever.

———Phoenix Uncertain: Originally written on Thursday, September 13, 2001—————-

CATHARSIS I: The Road to Damascus

I need to write all of this down right now, while the smells, sounds, and experiences of the past few days are fresh in my mind. I also need to do this now because I’ve gotten some clarity in the past few hours and I don’t know how long that will last for. I have alternated between disbelief, sorrow, confusion, and anger…and sometimes all of these simultaneously. On Tuesday, the man I was ceased to exist. The light has been extinguished from my eyes. I’ve tried to explain things to my wife and broke down every time. I cannot even begin to explain to my daughter Katie how lucky she is to have her Daddy around, nor can I explain to her why her Daddy screams in his sleep or why he shakes for no reason. I cannot explain to her why every time I head a loud sound or bang, I practically jump out of my skin. All I can do is try and take the medication that keeps me normalized and try and make some sort of sense of the whole thing. Now that I’ve just popped a “happy pill”, I’ve got 8 hours to write this all down, before I descend into my own abyss once again. In the past 72 hours, I have witnessed events that I never thought I would see with my own eyes. What you are seeing on your television is absolutely nothing…and I do mean NOTHING…like it actually was to be there. I keep telling myself that something or someone must have had a greater plan for me, and that is why I am alive today instead of being buried under a ton of rubble. Perhaps that plan just to write this document of my experience to share with others so that they may carry on the memory of those who survived like myself, and the memory of those who were lost. Perhaps it is to share with you that amidst all of the evil, I witnessed some of the finest moments of compassion and humanity that I have ever seen…an affirmation of a belief that I have always held: that we have greatness inside all of us. Perhaps it is about the redemption of my own soul, for like Saul on the way to Damascus, I’m slowly coming to the realization that my life has indeed reached a turning point. I also know that there is no going back to the person I was, and I just have to figure out just who the hell I am now.

CATHARSIS II: Abnormal Normality

TUESDAY, September 11th, 2001: 7:22 AM, Little Silver Train Station, NJ
Kissed my wife and daughters good bye as they dropped me off at the station. Took my coffee, laptop, and briefcase…bought a copy of the NY Daily News. Thankfully since the NY Giants/Denver Broncos game ended late, I don’t have to read about how my team was defeated. Read through the paper all the while sipping my coffee on the one hour ride to Newark NJ, where I will catch the PATH Train (a subway between NJ and NY) to the World Trade Center, just 3 blocks from my office at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza.

8:20 AM, Penn Station, Newark, NJ
Board the PATH train…and actually found a seat! I consider this a good omen for the rest of the day, especially as I was lugging around a very heavy laptop PC in addition to my regular briefcase. It was for this reason that I decided NOT to listen to my CD Player today…it would be just too awkward carrying around a CD player strapped to my waist as well as a laptop and briefcase. I close my eyes to catch a few winks on the 22-minute ride into Manhattan.

8:42 AM, World Trade Center, New York, NY Leave PATH train for the ride 6 stories up a series of escalators to the street level. I decide that my laptop is sitting awkwardly on my shoulder, and that I would fix it when I reached the top of the escalators.

8:45 AM, WTC Path Square (located in the center of the WTC Complex, 1 story Below Ground, where there’s a Shopping Mall)
Reach the top of the escalator, and begin to fix my laptop. As soon as I get myself situated…something happens…a sound…something different. Sounds like a crash at first…then a low rumble…then a “whoosh” throughout the complex. People are starting to run, and once others see people running, they too scramble for the exits. At this point, I think it’s a good time to get the hell out of there, and start to run toward the exits as well. Someone, in his or her haste to get out, knocks me over. I’m falling face first toward a plate glass window in one of the shops. Somehow, I manage to contort my body so that I land on my left knee pretty hard, but my face hits the floor. I’m dazed…compose myself for a minute…and realize I have to get out no matter what just happened. My knee is killing me, but the endorphins take over, and that pain is quickly gone. I feel something warm on my chin, and realize that it’s blood. My fall knocked one of my front teeth into my lip, putting a nice gash in it. I wipe some blood away, and follow another crowd into the lower level of the Border’s bookstore, which also has an exit to the streets…it’s much less crowded, and a calmer exodus of people. I reach the street and exit into the air. There is a burning smell…I’d never smelled anything like it. There are thousands of papers falling from the sky in a quiet procession of calm amidst the chaos. A paper rain, much like one of those party favors that you might have had when you were a kid…you know, the fake champagne bottles filled with confetti. I start to walk across Church Street. I can see smoke, but because I’m so close to the tower, I can’t really see anything. I begin to walk westward toward Broadway past St Paul’s Chapel. As I walk, people are looking up at the North Tower, then looking back down at my blood stained face. I see their eyes are filled with confusion. When I reach the corner of Broadway and look up I can finally see what happened. There, at the top of a building that is approximately ¼ of a mile long is a HUGE hole…several stories in length…plumes of smoke and flame billowing higher into the air. I can only stand there, watching in disbelief as I realize that what we had all feared had probably taken place: a bomb had gone off in the World Trade Center.

CATHARSIS III: Another Ulysses

APPROX. 9:00 AM, Broadway
It’s funny how the mind operates. You know, kind of like when you see a magic trick, you can’t believe what you saw…or when your team makes a triple play…or when you witness a birth. You know you’re seeing something, but your mind sends signals that it’s just not possible, but there it is. From out of the Tower, I’m seeing debris fall…but it’s coming in very irregular intervals. Usually, debris falls in a pattern as a structure is weakened, and at the same rate of descent. This debris was sporadic, and it wasn’t just falling in a straight line from the Tower…it was arcing. I saw it happen once, twice…but on the third time, I saw what I thought was debris MOVE, I thought I saw arms move…and I realized that debris cannot move, nor could it have arms. I had just seen people throw themselves from the North Tower to escape the consuming flames. I began to shake, began to shout “No F***ing way!” and “Oh my God” at the top of my lungs. Someone came over to me and put their hand on my shoulder and asked me if I was all right. I think I said something to the effect I was, but they offered me a bottle of water and some tissues to wipe the blood off my face. I accepted and I asked if they had seen the explosion…and that’s when they told me it was a plane that had crashed into the North Tower. They also told me it was an airliner. The brain couldn’t register that one really…except for the fact that I thought it was a terrible accident, and thank God it wasn’t a bomb. Another person in the crowd came up to me and asked if I needed help getting to where I was going. I realized that my hands were trembling and couldn’t hold either the tissues or water steady and my knees felt weak. Brain kicks in again: yeah, take this guy up on his offer. It turned out he worked for my company but at another location. We began to walk toward my building, and I notice some debris along the way. About a block from my office, right in front of the Federal Reserve Building I see some debris that catches my eye: some tacky looking upholstery that looks like it came from an airline headrest. It was then that I saw a seat cushion and an armrest…THANKFULLY empty.

APROX 9:12 AM, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
I walk one block further south to my building, and reach the Plaza. Just as I’m about to turn to enter my building, I hear the whine of jet engines. I look down the block at the South Tower, and see a fireball engulfing the building, showering flaming debris across the skyline, arcing outward and in my general direction. There is a low, rumbling sound, very much like what I had heard earlier…a sound that grew as the flames spread and debris rained down upon Manhattan. The crowd begins to run frantically toward the east, away from the falling debris. I overhear someone say that it was another jet that collided into the South Tower. It was then I realized that this was no accident, that my greatest fears were realized: we were under attack. It was at that moment, I knew that I had to somehow survive this…get the hell out of there…and get home to my family. I had just become a modern day Ulysses.

CATHARSIS IV:The Silence before the ROAR

APPROX 9:20 AM, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
I’m pretty superstitious. I usually sit in the same seat for a baseball or football game if my team is winning. I never pick up a penny “tails up”, and I don’t walk under ladders. In some convoluted manner, the Universe played a trick on me, for I work on the 13th floor of my building. It never bothered me before, but on a day like Tuesday, there was just no way I was going to go up into my office…so I decided to go downstairs to the Branch to use the phone to call my wife to let her know I was OK. (A footnote here and an important one because it’s going to come into play later: The Branch is an underground structure, kind of like a rectangular “donut”. It is just below the Plaza, with a circular glass enclosure in its center containing a fountain. There is an opening at the top of this enclosure to the Plaza to let light in. From the Plaza level, there is a circular wall that allows viewing of the fountain from the Plaza, and it’s quite beautiful when viewed from inside the branch at the level of the fountain.)

Just before entering the Branch, I meet up with a co-worker who sees me and is pretty amazed at my condition at this point…I can only imagine: A deer in the headlights look accompanied by a bloody face. I try and tell him what’s happened so far. It turns out, he’s not going to his floor either…and he helps me into the Branch. Needless to say, the Branch had been closed to all but employees with ID. I also know the Branch Manager, Assistant Branch Manager and many of the staff well because I’ve worked with them directly when I was in the Branches myself. I got in there; they sat me down and got me some first aid as well as some water. I called my wife, told her I was OK and told her of what I was going to do next: try and take the Staten Island Ferry and get to either my parents or my in-laws and have them drive me home. I just wanted to get the hell off Manhattan as soon as possible, especially with the thought that there were two ¼ mile buildings a few blocks away that had the possibility of collapsing. I called my parents and told them of my intentions as well. Needless to say, I’m pretty shaken up at this point. I decide to sit a few minutes to try and relax, collect my thoughts, and move on. A woman named Maxine (who I’ve never met before) sat with me and comforted me. She also spoke with my wife during my phone call and said she was taking care of me. God Bless her…she was a BIG help. We turned on the radio to listen to the news, to see exactly what had happened, and it was just as we feared: two jet liners were hijacked and were rammed into the World Trade Center…and one other thing that hit us all like a ton of bricks…the Pentagon was also attacked the same way. Nothing was the same anymore.

CATHARSIS V: No World Order

APPROX 10:15 AM 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
Some people talk about a “New World Order”. At this point in my life, there was definitely a New World, but anything but order. I had finally calmed down, and was about to make my way toward the Staten Island Ferry when the unthinkable happened: That ROAR happened again…that ungodly Roar that still was imprinted in my head from the last few hours… …And then I saw the debris and smoke fill the glass enclosure around the fountain. The ground shook, and we all began to rush toward the escalators that would take us to the vault sub-basements in the Plaza. We arrived down there followed by a cloud of smoke and dust…we made our way through passages that led to the underground cafeteria where security told us to go. My first thought was that my building was attacked, but something completely unexpected happened. We had just found out that one of the icons of the New York Skyline, one of the World Trade Towers had crumbled to dust…and that rubble had spread across Lower Manhattan, washing across the Plaza. We were told to stay put…it was safer here, and there was NO visibility AT ALL outside. More people started to file into the cafeteria…all of them covered in dust…stark white ghosts with terrorized eyes peering from the rubble that had been strewn onto their bodies. Among them were two people who worked in my department. I rushed up and the three of us hugged and held onto each other. We got a table in the cafeteria; got some of the water and wet rags they were handing out to help us breathe. …And we sat…for two hours…and waited for news of when we could leave the building. In the meantime, there was another dull roar in the distance…THAT ROAR… …And the other Tower had fallen. …And God only knew what the rest of the world outside looked like.

CATHARSIS VI: A Hole in the Sky

APPROX Noon, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
Now I know what my cat feels like when I let him out of his carrier after we bring him back from the vet. He always wants to get the hell out, and yet he steps out gingerly, unsure of what he can expect. I kind of felt that way as I exited our building after we were told to head toward the East River. I also felt like a B-Movie actor on one of those bad 50’s “Day After…” movies, the ones usually used for cannon fodder on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. There was dust everywhere, and it looked like it was snowing in September. There had to be two inches of dust and debris on the streets as CJ (one of those guys I mentioned earlier who worked with me) and I made tracks for the South Street Seaport. We’re wandering around, towels around our faces like some post-apocalyptic version of TE Lawrence and The Shadow trekking across the Nafud, or Paul and Jessica across Arakis in “Dune”. We looked back where the Twin Towers had been…the same two towers CJ and I came through every day from the PATH (she’s from North NJ)…the same two towers that had dominated the skyline since we were children (we’re both 40, born a month apart). There was nothing. Absolutely nothing…except for a huge black cloud where those beautiful towers once stood gleaming in the sunshine. It was as if you used a photo program on your PC, highlighted the Towers, deleted the image and filled the blank area with smoke. It hurt to breathe (and I’m a smoker, so I can just IMAGINE what a non-smoker would have felt). The dust stung your eyes and skin. It was raining dust…a horrible snowfall on a late summer day…a snowfall that contained pieces of building, asbestos, paper, jet fuel, and God only know what else. I was reminded of Good Friday for some reason… We finally got to the River, and began to follow the exodus uptown toward God knows where. All CJ and I knew was that we had heard there were ferries still running to NJ (the SI Ferry was shut down at this point, so my first plan was abandoned) and we had to catch one. The air was clear, and I decided I REALLY needed a cigarette at this point (NOTE: A martini was my first choice, but the bars were closed). I offered one to CJ…who hasn’t had a cig in 10 years…she took it, we lit up and moved on.

CATHARSIS VII: Dorothy and The Scarecrow

EAST RIVER ESPLANADE: Approx. 12:30 PM
I’m thoroughly convinced that The Universe has a sense of humor. CJ and I stop and look out at the river just below the Brooklyn Bridge. We can see hundreds of people walking across the Bridge to Brooklyn, the same for the Manhattan Bridge in the distance. It’s actually a beautiful day; there are no clouds in the sky…there are people just sitting on benches on the esplanade looking out at the water…some are fishing…some are making out. Order amidst chaos. We had just come from chaos into one moment of perfect beauty. I think to myself that this is really a beautiful day, and I imagine myself at the Shore or in my backyard with my kids…and then it hits me… …No beach to walk on unless I get home. No backyard and no kids and wife unless I get home…and God only knows what else happens on this day. Snap back to reality…we’ve got to get home. CJ and I meet a Police officer who says ferries are leaving from Pier 11 for NJ and directs us Uptown. Just a slight problem…Pier 11 is just South of us a few blocks, so CJ and I are headed in the wrong direction. Like I said, the Universe has a sense of humor…

SOMEWHERE ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE: Approx., 1:00 PM
CJ and I have walked for a while. I’m still carrying the laptop and briefcase, and I really can’t feel the pain in my knee yet, but at least my lip has stopped bleeding. Needless to say, both my shoulders are killing me. We walk around trying to find Pier 11, just Dorothy and the Scarecrow trying to find Oz. We walk through neighborhoods that we would never walk through regularly, and people are coming up to us and asking if we are OK (we’re covered in dust at this point). They give us water and comfort. We see others helping people…a woman in a wheelchair giving directions and a bottle of water to two people…four people hugging in the middle of a street glad to find each other…Police Officers with their arms around people offering them comfort as well as direction. I realize at this point what my Dad always said about the blackout of 1964 (he was trapped in the subway) that New Yorkers are people who put all differences aside when in a crisis. We finally find a cop who points us in the right direction…we head back downtown.

CATHARSIS VIII: Just Click Your Heels Three Times…

PIER 11, New York, NY: Approx. 2:00 PM
We found OZ. No emerald city here, just a bunch of ferries that were going back to New Jersey. CJ and I parted company here. She headed back to Jersey City and one of the few remaining trains that were running out of Hoboken. I got on a high-speed ferry bound for the Highlands on the Jersey Shore, about 10 miles northeast from my house. I decided I’d worry about how to get home from there…I’d walk if I had to. The Police search our bags before we get on… The ferry is VERY comfortable, complete with bar that is, unfortunately closed…it costs approx. $18 each way, about twice my cost for the trains (which were NOT running at this time), but they were ferrying everyone at no cost. They gave us water, and there were two clergymen on the boat, a Catholic Priest and a Minister, both Chaplains of the Highlands Fire Department. A call comes over the loudspeaker asking for 50 volunteers to take the next boat. People get up and leave, willingly with no problems. I see the Priest and yell out, “Father, are you riding this boat?” He says yes. I decide to stay.

NY HARBOR, Approx. 2:20 PM
The boat leaves, and the Scarecrow decides to look back at the Emerald City. The Towers are gone. The Black Void is still there. The Scarecrow loses what Brains he had left and breaks down. Like the Towers, I’ve just crumbled into a pile of rubble.

IN TRANSIT THROUGH NY HARBOR AND THE ATLANTIC:
The Minister sees me and comes over to talk. He was in Viet Nam for two tours of duty. I tell him what I’m feeling, and he tells me what happened to him. He’s describing what I’m feeling to a “T”. I’m amazed that someone else can describe what I feel…and realize just how fragile we really are as humans…and I also realize at this point, I’m not the same person who woke up that morning. We both pray publicly. It is my first time praying in public since I was 14. Like I said, the Universe has one hell of a sense of humor.

CATHARSIS IX: …And Say ‘There’s No Place Like Home’

HIGHLANDS, New Jersey Approx. 3:00 PM
We arrive in New Jersey The Minister walks me off the boat and asks if he can do anything else, and I tell him he did more for me than anyone in a very long time. I follow the crowd off the gangplank. We are told that we will have to present ID. We are also told that if we are covered in dust we will have to be decontaminated. I am told to go to the “left” line. My belongings are put in a bag; my laptop and briefcase are scrubbed by men in isolation suits by hand. I am told to stand forward a man with a fire hose that then proceeds to spray water on me from head to toe. As he is doing this, I can see the NYC skyline in the background. What two gleaming towers, had once dominated, was now dominated by a huge cloud of smoke and a gaping hole where the towers should be. I was told to turn around so they can spray my front. They do so…and I have been baptized into the New World. I’m handed my belongings, and a Police Officer takes my statement as he was informed that I was in the WTC when the first plane hits. It’s the second time that day that I’ve told my story…but this time more emotions are coming out…and I find I cannot look anyone in the eyes when I talk to them… I’m directed toward a bunch of vans, busses, and private cars where I’m told that someone would drive me home. I walk slowly, drenched…laptop and briefcase still present…away from the water and toward a parking lot. All I can do is stare straight ahead and make no eye contact with anyone. I feel like I’m there (here) but somewhere else. A woman named Doreen asks me where I’m going, and I tell her. She says she volunteered to give rides to people, and really has nothing to do…mainly because she was just laid off from Nike the day before. She offers me her cell phone to call my wife…it’s the first time we’ve spoken my phone call in the morning. I tell her I’m coming home in a few minutes. Doreen assures her I’m shaken, but OK. We drive off to my home.

CATHARSIS X: Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

We arrive at my house…and I run to my wife (holding our month-old daughter) and my 4 year old daughter, Katie. Everything comes back to me in a big rush…I break down. We all thank Doreen, and I give her a big hug goodbye. In the next few hours, I try and explain things to my wife…and some of them I can…most of them I cannot. We call my doctor who tells me to go to the ER at the Local Hospital for a chest x-ray and some tests…apparently the stuff I was exposed to may have contained asbestos…and God only knows what else. While getting tested, they had me speak to a Psychologist…just like others who were coming in. I told my story the best I could, and she was a HUGE help for my family and me. I needed to talk and I did…and I realized that there is a lot I still have to deal with.

CHARTHIS XI: Phoenix Uncertain

I’m hanging in there as best as I can…and for the past five hours, I’ve been spilling my guts out for those of you I know, and those of you I do not. This has been my story, and there are thousands of others such as I. I mentioned before that I am not the same person I was when I woke up on Tuesday. Quite frankly, I’m not sure who the hell I am anymore…but these things I do know: *I am a Father of two beautiful girls *I am a loving husband of, quite simply, the most amazing woman on the planet AND THOSE THINGS ARE THE ONLY THINGS THAT ARE MY LIFE! Please…just take the time to hug your kids, wife, partner, loved ones…NEVER take them for granted! Hold on to your friends and keep them close…chances are that this has touched us all in one way or another.

We have all been transformed in one way or another by this event. We are all filled with a plethora of emotions…I certainly know I am.

Let us work together to seek justice for those who have been killed or injured. Let us offer a hand to those who need it, whether or not they have been there first hand. Let us all show the strength of humanity and compassion that we are all capable of. Let us rebuild our city, our nation, and our fragile planet.

Let us go forward with one voice that says we shall never allow this to ever happen again.

God Bless You, Your Families, The United States Of America, and our Beloved Planet.

Arkangel3 BORN: Mar 14, 1961 DIED: Sept 11, 2001 REBORN: Sept 11, 2001

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Coda- September 11, 2009: It’s always interesting when I go back and re-read this piece.  When I first wrote it, I was scared and scarred emotionally and physically.  I had just been through an event that I never in my wildest dreams thought I could have been privy to let alone be a part of.  Eight years have made me a much different person than I was on that fateful day or when I wrote this a few days afterward.  I have literally been through hell and back.  I was diagnosed with Acute PTSD as a result of the September 11th attacks, I am disabled because of it and I try and live with it every day.  I was also diagnosed as having Bi-Polar disorder and I am also a recovering alcoholic.  It hasn’t been easy.

While that day still lingers for me and thousand of others, it is also a significant point in Human History as well as in my own life.  It is a point at which we choose a path to go down in our life as individuals, as a nation, or as a planet. For my own personal journey, it has been a source of self-discovery (and rediscovery); of sadness and pain, and occasional joy and triumph.  But what has been born of pain has made me more Human than I could have ever hoped to be otherwise.  And the most painful thing I had to work through was the most challenging obstacle to overcome: the guilt of surviving while so many others died.   I was spared, and somehow came home to the loving arms of my wife and children…and yet, I could not get past the guilt of living.   A painful reminder was the sight of my neighbor on a daily basis; her brother was killed in the attacks.  I saw her go through the grief and anguish over the next few years, and all I could think of was what she was thinking every time she saw me…perhaps asking the Universe why I was alive and her brother wasn’t.  And every time I saw her I kept asking the same question.

Last year when I started this blog, I was looking for a quote from Robert Kennedy to close out a post.  I came across something RFK quoted from the Greek poet Aeschylus at Martin Luther King’s funeral:

“And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair and against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God”

What Bobby was trying to tell those gathered in the Church and the Nation was that although we might not understand why that happened, and the pain it caused us; there was a reason for it and it would be revealed in time.  That eventually the pain of the loss will go away, and from it something new will come.

I was struck as if hit by lightning.  In that very moment, my guilt began to wash away and the pain of having survived the attacks began to abate…for I had finally begun to forgive myself.  For all the pain I had caused my family, for all the pain I had been through…I began to forgive myself…and thus begin to slowly live my life again.  The key had been turned and the circle closed, for that part of my life was finished; now I have to deal with what is coming and I do that a day at a time.  I do that by trying to be the best human being I can be on a daily basis, and sometimes I fall miserably short in that lofty goal…but I am human after all.  There is always tomorrow…and why I was spared I may never know; but I have a tomorrow…and that is all I can ask for.


One Year On…

One year ago, I started this blog with the intention of trying to change the world one word at a time.  Well, at least my little corner of the world.  I think I might have succeeded on some levels, certainly on a personal one.  I tried to blog as much as I could; most especially during the election, once or twice a day.  Lately, I’ve been ill and it was the end of the summer, so I took some time off to spend with my kids before they went back to school…but I have a lot of free time back on my hands right now, so I’ll be posting at least three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.  I might even pull a column from the past as a reprint on the other days of the week, especially if it deals with current events.

I have to admit, bloging is an interesting experience; you just sit down with a blank canvas and “go” on some days; and on others it’s like pulling teeth.  That’s why I am not a great believer in forcing a post on a daily basis; if it’s taking me that long to write something, then it’s not worth posting because chances are it’s of low quality.  (Although I have to admit a few times I did post that sort of stuff and incredibly people loved it.  Maybe I’m too hard on myself).  It’s been great talking about everyday events and trying to put a funny spin on them, or writing about an historic election that I must admit at times had me pulling my hair out (and thank God I have plenty of that left).  I also loved being able to share some of my philosophy and beliefs in the Universe with you, and if I touched something in you along the way then I was doing my job.  That’s what writers do: we are SUPPOSED to touch something inside you, make you feel a certain way or think twice about your own beliefs…at least that’s the way I see it.

I also started this blog one year ago in a very different place than I am now.  I was at the verge of accepting what happened to me on 9/11 and the results thereafter.  I was definitely at a crossroads, and this blog helped me to focus myself on what had to be done personally and hopefully professionally as I embark on writing a novel.  The past few months have been rather a lull for me creatively and personally, and sometimes that can be a good thing.  You take the time to enjoy and appreciate your family.  You take the time to get ideas and get some sketches down on paper.  More importantly, you interact with your friends and other human beings more instead of furiously typing away at the Mac.  All of these things combine to refresh the spirit and create a new beginning.  So now I am ready for the next phase of what has to be done in my life…and this blog is certainly a part of it.  Hopefully, you’ll stick around for the ride…just make sure you fasten your seatbelt!

Special Note: Tomorrow I will be re-printing a piece that I wrote a few days after 9/11 that kind of went viral back then and every year that I reprint it, it does the same.  It’s my first hand account of what happened to me on that horrible day 8 years ago, but it’s also accompanied my my current thoughts on the event.  I hope you’ll read it again, or for the first time; it’s one of the pieces of writing that I am most proud of.  It’s unfortunate that it had to come from such incredible events…then again, when you are witness to history, sometimes you have to tell your piece of the tale so that no one will forget that day and so that it will never happen again.

I Was A Teenage Socialist!

30 years ago when I was a youngster of 18 attending a small college in Vermont, I registered to vote in that state.  At the time, my politics was very left-leaning, and my grade advisor (who was only in his 20’s with a PhD and two Masters) was an unabashed fan of jazz and he was also a registered Socialist.  I learned a lot from him over the two years I was at that school; so over drinks or coffee (usually with Miles Davis as the soundtrack), we would both bemoan the fact that Ronald Reagan was President and that any chance at a serious Progressive agenda was DOA.  The vast tentacles of the Right were infiltrating every portion of my life, most especially in denying me the Guaranteed Student Loan for my 3rd and 4th years of college, because my father made too much money; which is why I had to change schools (and eventually my major from Political Science to Journalism).  But back in 1979, influenced by my ideals and hatred of Republicans (Nixon’s resignation just shook me to the core) I signed a piece of paper that made me a card-carrying member of the Vermont Socialist Party.

You see, it’s quite simple.  I believe in single payer Health Care for all Americans.  I believe in single payer Education for all Americans up to and including a Bachelor’s Degree.  I do not believe in the Death Penalty except in cases of Crimes Against Humanity.  I believe in a woman’s right to do as she chooses with her own body (quite a Libertarian view in fact) as well as access to the same salaries as their male counterparts.  I do not believe in the United States being the Policeman of the world (yet another Libertarian view).  When I had to register for Selective Service (we were the first to do so along with those born in 1978), in large black marker I wrote on my application, “Conscientious Objector”.  I organized protests at an all-boys Catholic High school (something not easily done), most of them “silent” by us choosing not to do something and doing something else.  I wrote a rather unflattering letter to the Editor just prior to my graduation; about recent events in the school that caused the administration to deny us a Senior Day.  They wanted me to edit it myself and to tone it down in tenor…I refused.  They published it anyway, and I still hear about it from my classmates.

So you see, by registering a Socialist, I codified my beliefs under one umbrella; the beliefs that were already there but needed a name to unify them.  The beliefs of Socialists clearly reflected my views at the time, and I proudly became one.

As the years wore on, I became a Registered Democrat and then a Registered Independent, as I started to vote for the candidate rather than the party…which I till do.  Only now, I am a proud Registered Democrat.  I did so last year in order to support Barack Obama in his quest for the White House.  This too came as a decision based on several years of being a free soul thanks to being downsized in 2004.  Yes, I was also disabled; but in the quest to find myself, I awakened those core principles which had remained buried for so long.  I took my new found life experiences and codified them under the Democratic umbrella…and here I am today.

I sit poised to remember something horrible that happened in my life 8 years ago, as the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center loom on the horizon just 7 days from now.  But what happened to me was that out of those ashes and flames, I was born anew.  I have my mental (and now physical) challenges directly (or perhaps indirectly) related to that day; challenges I face on a daily basis.  But I have become more open in my heart, and more willing to allow my Humanity to shine through in a way that has never shone through me before.  The fact of the matter is, I give a damn.

And this is what motivates me politically.  This is what and who I am now.  I have come full circle…and although I have a label on me politically, I am so much more than that.  I wonder how many Republicans can say that, now that their once great Party has been taken over by zealots and wing nuts?

“Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.” – Alexander Hamilton