Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years

NOTE: This post will remain at the top of my blog through September 11, 2006, 11:59PM EDT. For more current postings, scroll below this post.

Five years ago, the largest terrorist attack ever conducted culminated in the murder of nearly 3,000 people, the destruction of the World Trade Center, devastated Lower Manhattan, badly damaged the Pentagon, wreaked havoc on the airline industry, and marked the most audacious and deadly attack by Islamic terrorists against the United States in our history. Since that fateful day, we have been living with the repercussions and the horrors witnessed by millions who saw the attacks in person or live on television.

I happen to be among those who saw the horrific attacks unfolding in person, working in the West Village and I can remember exactly where I was on that day, and those recollections are as vivid today as they were on this day five years ago. I can recall everything from that day, from the sight of the empty sky to the awful smell that persisted in Lower Manhattan for months after the towers collapsed.

I wrote the following last year, and much of it is still relevant today:
Heroes will still be heroes - rushing into danger to save innocents without regard to their own safety. Politicians are still as inept and vainglorious as they were before the attacks. They play the blame game as they always have. The rebuilding of Ground Zero has been a monumental struggle, in part because PC has inserted its ugly head - we have to build a cultural center that includes anti-American groups like the IFC and The Drawing Center because people can't be allowed to mourn the murder and senseless destruction caused by Islamic terrorists. We have to hear from these anti-Americans that it was our fault.

All this comes back into full view as we witness the response to Hurricane Katrina. The heroes are still the heroes - rushing in to help those who can't help themselves. That hasn't changed. Firefighters and law enforcement rushing in to fill the breach. Politicians who blame bureaucracies that were part of their job description in the first place. Corrupt officials trying to cover up their misdeeds with misdirection and playing blame games.

Calls for investigations and commissions, which will not reveal anything that we didn't already know because they will overlook the real juicy bits for the sake of political expediency (Able Danger anyone?).

Anyone sense a pattern here? I do. Only the names and places have changed.
Thankfully, the IFC and Drawing Center were removed from the Ground Zero plans, but the 9/11 museum and memorial are still plagued by troubles including securing money through fundraising for the $500 million project. And yet, this past week we saw the opening of an interim WTC Tribute Center, which will serve as a museum and memorial until the permanent structures are built at Ground Zero. One has to wonder why it took so long to make this happen given the modest cost to produce what many have described as a truly emotional experience. Yet, thousands of artifacts being stored at a hangar at JFK Airport await a final home at Ground Zero, including major structural members, parts of the antenna that capped one of the towers, and personal artifacts large and small.

Ground Zero largely remains empty of permanent construction, but there is hope. The signature Freedom Tower is finally getting underway, as several insurers have relented to permitting the Port Authority to draw upon insurance proceeds due Larry Silverstein under his insurance policies. Foundation and prepwork has been going on at the site since March. Construction has begun on the foundations for the 9/11 museum and memorial along with the transit hub. Designs for the remaining office towers were released only this past week. The response to the three designs by Sir Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Fumihiko Maki, has been largely favorable. Construction at Ground Zero is not expected to be complete until 2012, 11 years after the terrorist attacks, but this is significant progress. The economic outlook downtown looks brighter, as inventory of rental space downtown continues to show strength, which increases the likelyhood that the three office towers will be built.

People are still trying to find ways to memorialize the events of 9/11 and the terrible toll. One such exhibit at the New York Historical Society recreates a storefront that became a shrine after 9/11 as the owner of a store a block from the Twin Towers turned his store window into a monument to those killed in the attacks by preserving the dust and debris that entered his store much as it was on 9/11 after the towers came down.

We find that the 9/11 memorial in Shanksville, PA continues to include significant elements based on Islamic designs and symbology despite an outcry by survivors. Meanwhile, you've got folks who are continuing to deny the heroism of those who died on Flight 93 when the plane crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside. I'm not sure why they think that those who rushed the terrorists to keep them from killing more people on the ground, most likely somewhere in Washington DC - either the Capitol or White House, are not heroes. Their sacrifice meant that others would live. Ace has the details.

We find that the death toll from the 9/11 attacks continues to rise, as several rescue workers have succumbed to illnesses that may have been due to their service at Ground Zero during the relief and recovery efforts. There are ongoing questions over how the federal government responded to the air quality at Ground Zero in the hours, days, and weeks following the collapse. Has the city, state, and federal governments turned the rescue workers and all those who toiled at Ground Zero during the days, weeks, and months following the collapse into the New Liquidators? I fear we have.

Airline security isn't what it should be, even after billions of dollars are spent on new policies and procedures. Security is uneven and presents opportunities to terrorists who might seek to exploit them either here in the US or abroad.

The threat posed by Islamic terrorism still isn't taken seriously by some on the left, who rather think that the current Administration or the US in general is a bigger threat to peace than Islamic terrorists and their sponsors in the Middle East whose goals are reestablishing a caliphate and imposing Islam on the world at the expense of the West and all that it stands for. Submission to Islam or death and destruction are the choices presented by the likes of the Islamists in Iran and the various Islamic terrorist groups including al Qaeda, Hizbullah, and Hamas. All the while, these Islamic terrorists and their spawn seek to destroy whatever is built at Ground Zero, the latest such plot was to flood the bathtub where the Twin Towers once stood, and where the new Freedom Tower, 9/11 Museum and Memorial, plus the other office buildings and transit hub would be located.

The Islamic terrorists have been fascinated with the World Trade Center site since the early 1990s, when the plan to blow up the Twin Towers was set in motion culminating in the 1993 WTC bombing that killed six and wounded more than 1,000 people.

Meanwhile, the far left thinks that the jumpers and other scenes from 9/11 and the collapse of the WTC are images that should be reserved for America's Funniest Home Video consideration. Curt at Flopping Aces has the vile details. Instead of placing blame of the attacks on the Islamic terrorists, they concoct conspiracy theories that put the blame on Bush, Jews, and everyone but those who have claimed responsibility - the Islamic terrorists themselves. Of course, videos showing Osama meeting with various 9/11 hijackers and planning the attacks undermine any such theories, but are treated as nothing more than CIA plants to throw people off from the real story.

Have we gone so far from 2001 that folks can use the events from that day for satire or bad humor? Apparently so, even as the threats posed by Islamic terrorists continue to this day. Yet, we've also seen movies that do not trivialize the events of that day including United 93 and World Trade Center. Also, there are very good documentaries and other media presentations that highlight the horrors of the day, both from the personal and emotional aspects to the science of the collapse of the towers. Ed Morrissey explores that issue more deeply. Meanwhile, CNN will be providing a full replay of its coverage from 9/11/2001 beginning at 8:30am edt and running straight through to midnight.

ABC is running a 2-part miniseries based on the 9/11 Commission Report, The Path to 9/11, which has received quite a bit of news because of its perceived bias against the Clinton Administration. Indeed, some of those officials, along with Democrat members of the Senate, called on ABC to either edit the scenes or can the movie while threatening ABC's broadcast license.

That's just the tip of the iceberg of media programming and other remembrances, as this story notes.

Finally, for those in the New York metro area, here's a guide to various events and memorializations around the area.

I've been continuing to cover the situation in my Battle for Ground Zero series (search).

On this fifth anniversary, people are recalling the events of this day in ways large and small. Among those posting on this day: James Joyner, Hot Air (and here), Gateway Pundit, Michelle Malkin (whose blog marked the time of the attacks, the time the towers came down and has been blogging a torrent of postings all day - including a statement that she will not submit to Islam), AJ Strata, Old War Dogs, Bizzyblog, Sister Toldjah, Stop the ACLU, Ed Driscoll, Cold Fury, Pajamas Media, Tigerhawk, Joe Katzman at WoC, LaShawn Barber, Lorie Byrd at Wizbang, Jay Tea at Wizbang, Pamela at Atlas Shrugs, Don Surber, Uncooperative Blogger, Kim Priestap at Wizbang, Rick Moran, California Yankee, Ed Morrissey, and Discarded Lies (and here).

And for those who wonder about whether the hijackers ultimate destination, I think The Onion got it just right.

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