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Goodwill Hunting

It was two years ago today (Sept. 11) that I watched as the events at the World Trade Center unfolded. I was at work when the first reports started circulating that a plane had hit one of the towers. I remember thinking that this could not have been an accident. Then the second plane hit, and it was clear that this was an intentional act. Someone hooked up a TV in the office and workers began to gather around.

It was a bright, clear day and the billowing smoke and debris drifted across millions of TV screens that morning. The image of the burning towers soon circulated the planet, as news reports shot across satellite feeds and internet connections. The images were hard to believe. The second plane hitting the tower was replayed repeatedly and live cameras showed people jumping from the flaming buildings.

I had a doctorís appointment that morning to get a leg injury Iíd suffered during a softball game checked out. In the corner of the waiting room was another TV displaying the burning towers accompanied by speculative commentary. There wasnít a pair of eyes in that room that werenít glued to the images of the event unfolding. There was a hushed quiet in the room.

Then it happened. The first tower fell, imploding rapidly to the ground in a massive dust cloud that spread out through the streets. Then the second collapsed like the first, spreading a wave of gray dust that engulfed everything in its path. It was reported that other planes were hijacked and the Pentagon was hit. Thousands were presumed dead.

What followed this dramatic display of disregard for human life was an amazing outpouring of grief and solidarity by people from around the world. Millions lit candles and gathered in demonstrations of support and condolence. Temporary memorials sprouted up around the world as masses of people gathered in disbelief at the terror that had befallen this country. There was an honesty and a sincerity in these acts of support that was truly overwhelming. The Internet and international news coverage were soon aglow with images and statements of solidarity with the tribulations faced by this country.

While I had certainly never witnessed in my life anything like the terrorist attack that occurred that day, I had also never witnessed the kind of outpouring of support that followed. While I saw the attack as a display of the worst in our species, the worldwide displays of solidarity that continued to stream in afterward seemed to show the best in us. As the debris of the World Trade Center smoldered and burned, there was a growing radiance of candlelight that seemed to pierce the darkness that then seemed so thick. The simple act of lighting a candle seemed to shed such meaningful light. In my lifetime, I had never witnessed such an expression of goodwill toward this country or, for that matter, toward New York City. It was unfortunate that it had to follow such a dark criminal act.

Two years later much has changed. In just 24 months, George W. and his administration have managed to squander the vast amount of worldwide goodwill that had accrued following that terrible event.

Itís been subsequently revealed that the government had received clear forewarnings of the attack and had taken no action. These forewarnings included a briefing given to George W. on Aug. 6, 2001 that such a terrorist plan was in the works. No one has been held accountable for the failures that allowed this terrible act to occur, and this administration seems to have gone out of its way to prevent a thorough investigationóreducing our rights to find the truth.

It was recently revealed that assurances by the EPA that the air in the area was safe shortly after the attack were not true. George W.ís decision was that the people should be lied to about the air quality for national security purposes. No one has provided an explanation for how it could be a threat to national security to tell people the truth about the quality of the air they breathe. Ironically, the environmental policies now being pursued by this administration are trying to worsen the air we all breathe.

The Bush administration worked with the United Nations to eradicate terrorists from Afghanistan, but the new government there can only claim a semblance of control over the capital. Opium-growing warlords have reclaimed the countryside, resuming their export of drugs to the world and building their personal armies.

When the U.N. didnít buy George W.ís lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and refused to join the battle, George W. decided to go it alone. The U.S. Department of Defense led the charge into a quagmire of a war that is currently eroding the U.S. economy while ensuring a continuous flow of body bags home. Ironically, the world that came out in such support for this country following Sept. 11, came out by the millions to protest George W.ís war in Iraq. All that goodwill garnered following Sept. 11 evaporated as bombs exploded over Baghdad.

With all the death, destruction and loss that has transpired since Sept. 11, I find it hard to believe that the American people have not demanded that this administration come clean with the truth. With all the damage George W.ís done to this country, I find it amazing that no impeachment proceedings have been initiated. In comparison to President Clintonís lie regarding a sexual act, the lies of George W. have been far more profound in effect.

I hope that we can all take some time around this anniversary to remember those who died on Sept. 11 and the pain of those they left behind. I will be lighting a candle of hope not just for those lost, but for those of us who remain, for peace, and the truths that still must come to light.

óTom Nattell 

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