by Jan Baughman
(Swans - September 12, 2011)
by Jan Baughman
(Swans - September 12, 2011)
Ten Years Of Forgetting - © 2011 Jan Baughman
As the country memorializes the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it is important to remember not only those who lost their lives on that tragic day, but also those whose lives have been forever changed.
The collective grief, compassion, and sudden sense of vulnerability that brought America together on 9/11 was quickly supplanted by the "you are either with us or against us" mentality. Since then, we have failed to find unity out of adversity, and the divisiveness has reached new heights.
First responders, particularly the firefighters, have seen a 19 to 32% increase in cancer -- a statistic that is likely to rise as the latency period increases, yet the Zagroda bill passed by Congress in 2010 -- 9 years later -- to provide medical coverage for the resulting illnesses, does not cover cancer. It will likely take many more years and much scientific debate to convince the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that an association exists between the toxic Ground Zero exposure and cancer.
Capitalizing on a thirst for revenge, an opportunistic war was waged on a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and "We Support Our Troops" bumper stickers became a declaration that opposing the war on Iraq was unpatriotic. Meanwhile, our troops became pawns in this unjustified war, and our "support" for them has had its limits. Unemployment among Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans ranges from 15 to 20%, far exceeding the official national figures. Suicide numbers are rising at an alarming rate, with hospitalizations among soldiers for suicidal thoughts up 7,000 percent over the past five years; and deaths due to vehicle and motorcycle accidents, drug overdoses, and other causes among California veterans are three times the number of California service members killed in those conflicts during the same period.
The illegal torture of alleged terrorists and their imprisonment without due process continues, while the masterminds of said torture remain free at large and free from consequences.
As for Iraq, a search on the status of "Iraq reconstruction" provides scant information from 2011 but for a report to Congress by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGOR) dated January 30, 2011. In this report, we learn that violence continues, the "lack of sufficient services [water, sewage, and electricity] will be the most likely cause of future instability," "Iraq's southern oil fields continued to be the focus of international investors' attention...," and "...virtually all of the 910 U.S. government civilian employees now working at U.S. Embassy-Baghdad are performing tasks unrelated to supporting the reconstruction effort."
On this solemn tenth anniversary, ceremonies and memorials will honor the innocent victims and we'll relive the first-hand or televised horror we experienced that day. We will be transported back to a heightened state of alert, we will be told to be vigilant, and we will hope that an anniversary attack does not ensue. But when we say "We Will Never Forget," we ought not have selective memory. We owe those who died on 9/11, and those who've suffered in its aftermath, so much more than the legacy we have created thus far.
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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art17/jeb231.html
Published September 12, 2011
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