An Unpopular Opinion On 9-11

The opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the other moderators or members of the Christianity Without The Insanity community.   – Mr. O.


I remember 9-11, 2001. I was working a sucky minimum wage job after getting laid off from the phone company where I was a software engineer. The post Y2K fallout put a lot of us tech types out of work and we took anything to make ends meet.

My commute was long, way too long for minimum wage, so, of course, I had the radio on. They cut in on the music to say a plane had hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. It had just happened and things being what they were in 2001, no one knew at the time even what kind of plane it was. The local radio folks speculated it was a little plane and not many people were hurt.

By the time I got to work at the big-box store the news was on every TV. We learned the details as they came in. It was a big plane. There was fire and smoke. Soon they were non-stop broadcasting a live feed of the towers.

And we watched as the second plane hit the south tower.

Our boss sent us all home right after that. He said he was closing the store and we needed to be with our families.

I got home to my homeschooling wife, always the teacher, telling the kids what was happening in calm tones. We watched together as they reported about the Pentagon. There were images of people jumping from the top of the towers. And then they fell.

And then they fell. First one, then the other.

And like every American, we wondered what would happen. We thought of those that died, and we prayed and we went to church that night because we didn’t know what else to do. And we heard about the firemen and the police and so many others that saved so many, yet so few.

And time passed. And there was war. And another war. Neither, it turned out, was directly related to the attacks on that day.

And time passed.

Now, here we are, 15 years later. We’re still reeling from the events of that day, in spite of the rebuilding. Our children, if they remember at all, have only vague memories and old images on TV. Freshmen in high school will study the events as something that happened before they were born.

And we remember. We remember the day with sadness, displays of patriotism, remembrances of those lost, the firemen and police and civilians. But also veterans for some reason, though the wars came later.

And that brings me to my unpopular opinion.

I respect and honor veterans. There’s a history in my family dating back to the Revolutionary war. Men and women in my family served and continue to serve. And they deserve respect. Especially those fallen.

But here’s the rub. And this is where I may lose followers and even make some enemies….

War is not a patriotic act. Not every soldier is “fighting for our freedom”. In fact, I will say that no soldier has fought for our freedom since World War II.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the soldiers themselves are not willing to fight for our freedom, I’m not saying they’re not doing their patriotic duty. What I’m saying is that since the invention of the nuclear weapon, there hasn’t been a need to fight for our freedom. I am saying that Korea, Vietnam, and just about every military action that came after WWII has NOT been about freedom. No matter how ‘patriots’ want to romanticize military service, to insist that we stand during the national anthem to ‘honor’ veterans, and a whole list of other demands, US military actions since the middle of the 20th century have been more about politics, land, oil, and a lot of other things.

Just not about freedom.

And I think it’s wrong to insist that 9-11 be made another military ‘holiday’.  Honor those lost. Remember the acts of terrorism. But don’t romanticize the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq as some great patriotic act. We know now that neither country was directly involved in the acts of 9-11 and we’ve spent thousands of lives and trillions of dollars not just on the acts of war, but on making reparations for our hasty invasions, for our need for revenge.

And now we have more terror. Isis lurks around every corner – an organization (if you can call it that) that was birthed directly because of our actions in the middle east.

We messed up. And unless we admit that, unless we stop worshiping the war dead and making patriotism our national religion, unless we stop glorifying the mistakes of our collective past, we can’t move on, move ahead and listen to each other.

This year, 9-11 is Sunday. You might be reading this after the fact, but as I write this, there are hundreds on my facebook timeline insisting that as our National Anthem is played before the football games players and others currently participating in the protest started by the 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick be FORCED to stand, rather than sit or kneel as is the form of their protest. Because veterans deserve the respect on ‘their’ day.

9-11 is not ‘their’ day. It’s not anyone’s day. It’s a day of mourning. Of remembering. But it’s not Veteran’s Day. Or Memorial Day. Or Flag Day, or 4th of July, or any other day we’ve chosen to ‘worship’ veterans.

We need to stop the cycle. We need to stop glorifying war-time military service. Honor those who served as is appropriate, yes, but not in excess, not to the degree that everything is about veterans.

The flag is not about veterans. The National Anthem is not about veterans. 9-11 is not about veterans. The first amendment is not about veterans. Nor is the second, nor any of the rest. (The second is all anyone cares to talk about these days.)

The most honorable thing we can do for current and deceased veterans on 9-11 is work to not make any more war vets.

My unpopular opinion may be mine to share because of the freedom I have, and there are events in this country’s past that were acts of protecting and creating that freedom. But my unpopular opinion is that none of those acts have happened in my lifetime. Nor my parents’. And 9-11, especially, should not be used as an excuse to romanticize war and make excuses to squash the freedoms we claim veterans have served and died to protect.



27 thoughts on “An Unpopular Opinion On 9-11

  1. I agree.
    On a side note, and not to take away from this beautifully worded essay, veterans, while having a very noble part to their souls, are not made up entirely of nobility, goodness and right, and should not get a pass on the social scrutinies with which the rest of us deal. They are humans, and should be evaluated as such, not elevated to some godlike being who can do no wrong. If we stop holding them to recognized and verbal standards of decency, we’re inviting the unscrupulous to take advantage of our chauvinism.

    • Yes! ! This glorification of “our brave men and women” to the point where it squelches rational thought and discourages any and all criticism of military or government, lest the critic’s patriotism be questioned, is a horrible thing.

  2. Patriotism does not necessarily have to relate to the military or to war .. it can simply be love and support of country. Our country was attacked on 9-11 and this is and should be the catalyst for patriotic acts , displays , feelings etc. Further, Patriotism does not require that one ignore the faults or mistakes of the government of ones country. In fact , one could argue that such action or lack thereof would be “false patriotism”. Your critique of the glorification of the military is understandable. However, acts of aggression against our Country will always require the necessity of our demonstrating our ability to defend ourselves, even when the aggression is “defensive” on the part of the aggressor. That’s just the nature of aggression. Although one might argue that our foreign policy during the last 8 years has demonstrated a little of the principles of “turning the other cheek” … and that’s good. Hopefully , we will continue to consider that principle in our future foreign policy.

  3. Yes. Thank you for writing what I have not yet tried to, because I know it will become a rant. Now, I can share your thoughts as reflective of my own.

  4. I agree 100% and hope this is a safe place to say something I’ve been feeling: 9/11 has become National Sanctimonious Wallowing Day. Yes, the event shook us up and transformed the country (for the better, short term; for the worse, so far, long term). It shook me up personally-I realized how much of my religious faith was built (unconsciously) on a silly notion that God was protecting our country from most of the evil in the world, when the fact is geography and a decent system of government made by some pretty smart guys protected (most of) us. But in the grand scheme of things, emotional trauma of people who didn’t lose loved ones and didn’t live in the devastated areas is not worth dwelling on. I wish that the people who died that day-some amazingly heroic, some just ordinary cowardly sinners caught in the wrong place at the wrong time-could be remembered quietly & reverently, not with “patriotic” displays & drummed-up outrage at football games. (If the day is not too sacred for a noisy, excessive spectacle like a football game, it’s certainly not too sacred for a protest against unjust death-which is what we’re supposed to be commemorating in the first place.) But quiet reverence is not something our culture is particularly good at.

  5. Powerfully said and agreed in total.

    This 9/11 with imperialist presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump maintaining the perpetual beating of US war drums, I thought it was a good time to again share my letter-to-the-editor written on 9/11/2001 and published the day after in the Spokesman Review:

    This morning (Tuesday) I received a phone call from a friend from Nicaragua telling me of the attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York.

    All day I heard talk of the terrorists and I recalled a song from the protest movement of the ‘80s, when U.S.-sponsored and financed wars of terrorism were fought against the poor of Latin America and other parts of the world. The song asked, “Who are the terrorists?”

    I thought of the Noriegas, Montesinos, Somozas, Marcoses, Batistas and other CIA bought-and-paid-for dictators and agents. I thought of what is called international aid and development, and the faces of the children who every so many years starve by the tens and hundreds of thousands in Africa.

    I thought of the international financial system and its stranglehold on countries seen as pools of cheap labor and resources. I thought of President Eisenhower and his warnings of the military-industrial complex. I thought of Palestinian youth with stones confronting Israeli tanks and machine guns. I thought of David and Goliath. I thought of the two-headed beast.

    I turned on the TV and saw the collapsed twin World Trade Towers. I thought of the New World Order and the World Trade Organization. I thought of the propaganda machine and began to hear the beat of war drums.

    David Brookbank

  6. I would be interested to know if any of you that agree with this essay have ever served this country in Military service? I, as a Vietnam vet have never asked to be “worshiped” but simply understood. While I can agree with some of this essay I find much of it insulting. Just my opinion and I am sure that in this context I will certainly be the minority. Then again, I did serve this country in honor of all of the amendments including free speech.

    • Frank, please tell us why you feel much of this essay is insulting. I didn’t get that from the essay, but no, I have never served. My father did, and never spoke of it. I heard about the horror he experienced from a friend of his. It’s one of the reasons I chose the work that I do, helping people with traumatic memories. I truly would like to understand you and am asking this respectfully. Sincerely, Cynthia

      • Ms. Jenkins, I am currently seeing a therapist at the VA for issues I had while serving in the USAF during the Vietnam war. I have been vilified as a Baby burner by one young lady, my Father in law fought in Belgium during WW2 and called us, to my face, Drug addicts and losers because they won their war. My own father would not talk to me about my experience as he too fought in WW2. My mother in law said I was not in a war zone as I served in Thailand and that was only for R&R. This is only part of my experience when I came home. I am now dealing with what I have in my memory of my time stationed overseas and in the USA. The closing remark, “And 9-11, especially, should not be used as an excuse to romanticize war and make excuses to squash the freedoms we claim veterans have served and died to protect.” Trust me, I am not “romanticizing my time in the service. I also do not wish to be “worshiped” either. Simply understanding what we have been through and what we have to work through in our minds would be a nice start. Politicians love to say “We are doing this to keep our wives and children safe from – – – inject your favorite demon here”. If you think for one second that I sleep better thinking I helped launch B52’s with wing racks and bombays full of bombs to indiscriminately kill the enemy and everyone near by you have a very warped idea of what we have to deal with everyday. I do not expect you or anyone that has not been through this to begin to understand. I have been through two therapists before I got to the VA and found a man that has been there. He is able to finish my sentences if he so chooses. You can not and never will begin to understand. If you work with a Vet do them a favor and encourage them to go the the VA. What ever red tape she/he has to go through is well worth it. I do not intend to go any further into this with you but please do not take that as a slight. My own wife of 46 years was there before I went and was there when I came home is having trouble understanding. Be safe.

      • I served in the USAF in Thailand too during the Vietnam War, but I don’t call myself a Vietnam veteran because I did not serve in Vietnam. I did not find this article insulting, I agree that the U.S. engages in war for the wrong reasons – mostly for regeme change and exploiting natural resources.

      • Sir, your experience is not mine. I am happy for you David I hope you have a good and long life. I should have know better than to open myself up here..I am an idiot and I am through here.

      • Frank, I see your feelings were not recognized on this thread.
        Please do not stop sharing. You never know who you may touch when you speak. So many others are dealing with the same horrible after effects you are. You are strength for those still searching.

      • Thank you but I just can not keep this banter going. I am not pretending to be a war hero and I am not trying to gain sympathy. My experience added to my upbringing has brought me to this place. I can not continue to try to explain my life to someone that mesures me by his ruler. I understand that the politicians are guilty as charged but much of the anger was placed on the service people that were dumb enough to TRUST in what they were told. I lost all trust in SEA and am just now understanding why. This is useless. I am just getting myself more ramped up.

      • Frank, thank you for sharing. There is so much about war that those of us who never served can never understand. To us, war is a word not an experience. For us, it is something to support or decry. What we will never know are the day in, day out details – the 24/7 nature of being in strange lands, doing every day things like eating and then loading bombs onto a bomber or flying the bomber and dropping the bomb knowing innocents are likely in its path. Or walk with a gun through a field or mountainside, hoping you don’t get killed, knowing you will be called upon to end another’s life if you come across them. Crawling through underbrush, hoping a bomb is not planted in your path. These have never been our realities. They were your realities, likely realities that haven’t receded since they occurred. I pray the treatment you are receiving from the VA, allows your mental horror to fade and the rest of your days be ones of a gentler mental peace. Thank you for your years of service, your years of endurance of angry and ignorant recriminations, your tenacity to keep getting up every day, putting one foot in front another and being a survivor. Your service mattered, you matter and your voice matters. Please take gentle care of yourself.

      • Frank, I want to thank you for your service, first and foremost from the bottom of my heart. I am an Army Vet that served 3 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. It took me awhile after I left the Army to get my ass to the VA and seek help for my issues. But I’m thankful I did. And it was mainly due to talking with Vietnam Vets that I had come across over a year or two. And though we served at different times and in different branches, I have the upmost respect for you and every other Veteran that has served before me, with me, and after me. And you are absolutely right about asking if the readers of this article have ever served in the military. We are the minority, but we are a band of brothers.

      • Frank, you went through horrific times in Viet Nam. AND, have been slapped in the face ever since. Your personhood has been violated. You deserve recognition –even celebration for facing death every day in so many ways.
        I believe the writer of this essay was much more addressing the idiocy our leaders have implanted into the general public to give us reason to continuing raping, robbing and pilfering countries that did nothing to us.
        His admonition was to our leaders.
        War is Hell. I’m glad you found affirmation with the VA. Thank you for your service.

  7. I really “pissed off” a veteran, once upon a time, when I told him that I also was a Vietnam War veteran. He asked me where I had served. I replied, “In Washington, D.C. at a little church across the street from the World Bank building on I Street. The vet looked confused. So I explained that I had been manning a site where injured Vietnam protesters could come for first aid. The aid was being provided by EMTs from the Mennonite community while I was a student pastor at the church. We had a lot of bloodied protesters come to the church, that night. The whole area seemed like a war zone.

    Having said that to the vet, he looked at me fiercely and called me every name in the book, including the f-word.

  8. Yes. If we really cared about veterans, we’d stop sending them to war, and we’d clean up the VA, which rarely serves veterans adequately.

  9. Here’s a vet that fully agrees with you. The super patriot hype seems to come from those who never served anybody or any thing. War never solves anything. It may temporarily remove some of the worst actors, but does noting to fix the underlying problems. True of the Middle East; true of our cities.

  10. Patriotism is the opiate of the people. So appreciate your post. I am a former serviceman and served in the Canadian military. I have always found excessive patriotism, especially wrapping oneself around the flag, and romanticizing war, to be one of the most egregious things we can do to our citizens, when we use patriotism as a form of coercion to get them to do acts they would not rationally do at any other time, were we take kids and turn them into killers all for the sake of revenge and getting even with whoever the perceived enemy happens to be. Time to turn the spears into plows. Time to work for peace. No more war.

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