Senin, 27 Februari 2012

Eleven Years After

Two week after 9/11 the wind shifted direction from a westerly to a southerly. The plume of smoke swung north to cloak the streets below Union Square with the BBQ fragrance of the massive funeral pyre. My apartment on East 10th Street filled with particles of dead people, asbestos, cindered paper, pulverized steel and ashes from known and unknown sources. It was time to flee New York and I caught the Fung Wah bus for Boston that afternoon. My younger sister was glad to see me."It's good to be here." My sister lived three hundred yards from 128, but the September air of her South Shore neighborhood was a welcome change from charnel house clouds blanketing Manhattan."Tomorrow we're thinking about going down to the Newport Boast Show." Life was resuming normalcy faster farther from Ground Zero."Sounds good." I hadn't been to Newport since the 1969 Jazz Festival. Led Zeppelin had closed out the Sunday line-up of James Brown, Johnny Winter, Willie Bobo, and BB King with HOW MANY MORE TIMES. The weather report for the next day was for clear skies, the same conditions as on 9/11 and ever since I have remarked on cloudless days as 9/11 weather.American presidents, politicians, media, and citizens had said that 9/11 was a day that changed this country forever, but we still drive SUVs, eat potato chips, and worry about the Oscars more than our troops overseas. Worse the Pentagon and its commanders in the field seemingly have a collective amnesia on the Islamic sensibility, for this month contract workers sifting through burning trash discovered the fire-damaged Korans. The NATO general in charge of the Bagram Prison had ordered their confiscation and destruction on the grounds that prisoners were using them to communicate between cells. Reaction was swift from the Afghans. The Bagram base was under siege by protestors hurling stones and gas bombs. Rubber bullets struck countless demonstrators. Four Afghanis were killed during the outburst and then two US soldiers were fatally attacked within the secure confines of the Interior Ministry in Kabul. The military commander of the occupation called for the withdrawal of all non-essential foreign personnel throughout the country and apologized for the error by the NATO troops.Eleven years into this conflict and the struggle to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan remains a challenge to the military, but strengthens the truth of the old adage, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

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