Unpopular Reflections on Post-9/11 America – Sept. 11, 2021

My “awake” part of this 24-hour spin on Mother Earth’s axis began in the wee hours of the morning when I came to consciousness screaming — scaring the crap out of Wifey Poo in the process — because evidently calf cramps are a thing for middle aged men.

How Do You Cheer in Cross Country?

Boy The Younger’s first-ever cross country meet was a success. He finished in the top half of his age bracket, crossing the tape in 32nd place at 15:17. I realized while I was watching runners go by in the races that preceded his that I have exactly one cross country cheer: “You’ve got this!” It seemed to me after the sixth time I said it to some random kid who ran by looking like she wanted someone to just shoot her and put her out of her misery that I didn’t quite “get” cross country cheering. In baseball, there are a wide variety of cheers based on the situation. For example: “All right now, two strikes, choke up, put the ball in play!” or “One more strike, just like that one!” I’ve got a few weeks before BTY’s second meet. Any suggestions on how to step up my cheer game?

Conflicted About 9/11

I sit here on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 feeling much the same way as I have for all the previous ones of these things, which is to say, conflicted.

I was shepherding a weekly newspaper toward its print deadline when the first plane smashed into a tower of which, as a small boy, I had stood at the base staring up in amazement. Days before, I learned Wifey Poo was pregnant with Boy The Elder. I remember feeling torn between having an important job to do to chronicle what was happening at the local level while simultaneously wanting to stand constant sentry over my suddenly growing family. I was as patriotic as the next guy in the days and weeks that followed. I remember listening to “God Bless the USA” with the windows down.

I also remember how, by the time we’d all traveled around the sun together again, none of those “good” things that happened at a societal level in the wake of the tragedy remained. And it’s gotten progressively worse with each subsequent trip.

Let me state this clearly: I honor the brave men and women who have stepped up and fought the wars of the previous two decades. I appreciate the sacrifices of those who did not come back alive. I cried tears then and will at some point cry tears again for the victims of religious zealotry gone mad.

But I’ve fallen out of love with America and its institutions. I watched as torture, decades-long imprisonment of innocent people and the creation of a surveillance state became an OK thing as far as a majority of my countrymen were considered. I then sat back and saw the citizenry, including people with whom I share blood, practice its own particular brand of zealotry by electing and — despite Himalayan-sized piles of evidence of his moral, ethical and legal failings — attempting to re-elect the most dangerously unqualified man to ever have sat in the Oval Office. And then I watched as, inflamed by their sore-loser messiah, these zealots coalesced into a mob that conducted a Third World-esque insurrection led by a shirtless moron wearing a Fred Flintstone grand-poobah hat.

With each passing anniversary, I felt more and more uncomfortable with what the dominant narrative said I should feel. It’s one thing to remember the victims of the tragedy, but to feel any sort of patriotism and pride for the country that has gone so significantly off the rails since that one sunny Tuesday in September? I can’t do that.

Which leaves me feeling conflicted. Because I used to be one of those “love-it-or-leave-it” flag-waving patriots. I voted for good-ole’ Dubyah and still think he handled the aftermath of the crisis about as well as any human being ever could. Then again, so did Trumpeteer Rudy Guliani and he somehow ended up with brown goop dripping down his face and as a punchline in a Borat sequel.

I’m conflicted because I know what an American is supposed to feel today, but I don’t feel anything close to it. I mourn for the victims’ families who were broken that day. But I don’t like what America has become in the wake of the tragedy and I can’t seem to make myself feel something that I don’t actually see.

My Facebook newsfeed has fed me the same message from friends and family all day. “Never Forget.” I’ve never forgotten. I dare say no one 25 or older ever has or ever will. But the America I loved isn’t the America that exists, and I’m starting to wonder if it ever will again.

The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day

 ‘In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people. When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own.’

George W. Bush

As I was saying…

Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. Because I’m sure by reading this today, someone will want to kill me tomorrow and I’d love to give them the honor.
  2. Breezes that keep a hot day from being disgusting.
  3. Big tall glasses of iced tea.

More From ‘A Puzzle Known As Life’

Grandpa — May 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sad Anniversary😞My Back! 😳Dachau😭 Thirty-five years ago today, my first grandparent died. Grandpa was my favorite grandparent, and in looking back, I think it was because of his willingness to join my world. Grandpa played games with me endlessly. He taught me how to play rummy. He would spend hours onContinue reading “Grandpa — May 17, 2022”

Family — May 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double-U🧸Big Sis 🦸‍♀️Preggo Healer 🤰 Anyone remember Speak & Spell? If you’ve seen E.T., you’ve seen it before. Don’t know why, but I was thinking about this toy the other day. For some reason, spelling wasn’t school if you had one of these things to play with. I can still hearContinue reading “Family — May 13, 2022”

Gambling — May 8, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Losing Money 🥊The Best F’N Mom Ever👩Heat 🥵 Wifey Poo and I took our weekly date Saturday and went to the city made famous in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie: East St. Louis. No, East St. Louis isn’t in Missouri and no, it’s not a popular data destination, but whatContinue reading “Gambling — May 8, 2022”

It’s the End of the World As We Know It — April 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Why We Suck🤡No Finishing Power🔚McReally? 🍔 The world is dumb, and America is the leading idiot. I don’t reach this conclusion with any sort of glee. It’s simply what I see. Societies hold together because of three things. Shared stories Strong institutions Social networks that engender trust. The past 10Continue reading “It’s the End of the World As We Know It — April 19, 2022”

Off — Dec. 6, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Detached 💭Intentions for a New Year 📆Red is Deadly 😷 Today sucked. The problem is, I don’t really know what the hell happened. I woke up just after 6, later than I have been recently, and I felt so significantly off that I truly don’t remember much of the first 45Continue reading “Off — Dec. 6, 2021”

Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oh Deer 🦌The Thought Gap 🧠Unplugged 🔌 I was sitting in my as-yet-to-be-named home office this morning when this big boy ☝️☝️☝️ walked out of the woods into my yard. It’s the opening day of deer season in Missourah, a day of significance for many local inhabitants on par with theirContinue reading “Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021”

Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What Makes a Sloth a Sloth? 🦥Launch Day is Nigh 🚀Talkin’ Free Speech 🎙️ I find myself going down some interesting rabbit holes lately. For example, tonight I wondered why exactly sloths are so slow and how exactly such a creature could survive in a survival-of-the-fittest world, especially when they liveContinue reading “Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021”

Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wrasslin’ 🤼‍♂️Wifey Poo 🦶Costco 🛒 Boy The Younger and I found ourselves this evening in the most difficult-to-spell-without-looking-it-up building in the Midwest, Chaifetz Arena, home of the Midwest’s most-weirdly named college basketball team, the St. Louis University Billikens. But we weren’t there for hoops. We were there to watch the oddContinue reading “Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: