Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blood and Steel

If anyone ever doubted the depth and passion of America’s grief almost a decade after the 9/11 tragedy, then perhaps they should think again.

On Sunday evening, August 22nd, after traveling with police escorts from New York to Washington State, a truck bearing twisted beams of World Trade Center steel arrived in Silverdale, Washington as first steps to dedicating a 9/11 memorial some 2,500 miles distant from Ground Zero. I was privileged to play a small part in the historic event, arriving as only one of almost 1,000 motorcycles and support vehicles in the escort of blood and steel to a military honor guard and community reception. It was an historic and emotional event. It was an example of Americans still trying to heal a deep and traumatic wound almost a decade after the original trauma.

The lingering pain and anger from 9/11 has certainly influenced the sometimes mean spirited controversy over the Cordoba House mosque debate. Those still weeping in their heart have trouble understanding how Muslim leaders and apologists could so easily dismiss their feelings about building an elaborate Muslim community center near Ground Zero. Conventional wisdom points to local laws, regulations, religious liberty, a need for tolerance and the terrible reality of New York’s sacrifice. Conventional wisdom says that it is a decision for New York City to make, but what seems to be forgotten is that the attack on the World Trade Center was not conventional. Conventional wisdom does not apply.

While many still desperately try, perhaps in vain, to fully grasp the horrific tragedy and sacrifice of New Yorkers, most Americans recognize that the attack on the World Trade Center was not just an attack on New York City but an attack on the United States of America. Though New Yorkers suffered the physical violence of the attack, as Americans we all wept that September morning and grieved. We helped where we could and in the best ways that we could. It was a traumatic wound on American soil, reminiscent of Pearl Harbor, and it has not yet healed. Almost a decade later, riding in escort of mere bits of steel that were a result of those times, I watched hundreds on overpasses waving flags, people in civilian dress standing at attention and saluting the miles of escort as we passed, cars pulled off to the side of road and groups standing with hands on hearts. I watched tears flowing from adults who remembered when. Americans from east to west across our plains, deserts and majestic mountains are still grieving.

While Mayor Bloomberg and many of the apologist left may be ready to move on, the passion and emotion surrounding the Kitsap 9-11 Memorial Project demonstrates clearly that the country is not. Perhaps when a time comes that the war with Muslim extremists has substantively moved to peace, then we can begin to heal. But today, we still grieve.

Photographs: top center World Trade Center steel rests on flatbed in Silverdale, Washington. Center left: United States Flag draped from cranes at reception ceremony. Lower left: woman touches steel in remembrance.

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