September 11 2001.
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By Bob Gaydos
Twenty years ago today, like millions of other Americans, I was preparing to go to work. The boys were off to school. It was a sky-blue September day. The news was on the TV, a practice of mine, in case there was something I needed to know about before I got to the paper.
The image on the TV screen froze me and shook the sleep out of my head. Oh, my God!
What was I seeing? They replayed it.
I quickly got myself together and headed off to work. But I stopped for a few moments in a nearby park to gather my thoughts and process what I had just witnessed qThe radio news informed me that, in addition to the two planes flying into the Twin Towers in New York City, a plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and another had hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
After about an hour of processing reports on what had happened, a meeting was held and it was decided that The Times Herald-Record would publish a special edition that afternoo, the first one, I believe, in the morning newspaper's history. My job was to write an editorial explaining what had happened. Or at least trying to explain it. About 500 words."We need it in an hour."
I don't have a copy of that editorial and I'm sure it was mostly emotion. I do remember writing, "America was at war." (Any colleagues who were in the newsroom on that day may feel free to corroborate or add any details you may remember in the comments section.)
The world changed that day. America changed. We the people had been attacked. We were one nation, under the spell of the dynamic leadership of New York's mayor, Rudy Giuliani. America's mayor. We grieved together, healed together and called for retribution together, against whoever it was who had attacked us.
So we started a war against, not the country where the terrorists responsible for the attacks came from (Saudi Arabia): but against a country (Iraq) that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. We justified it by claiming Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction" that it could use against someone, maybe us. That was a lie our government told us. We found out later.
Then we went after the actual attackers in the mountains of Afghanistan. We actually found and killed their leader, then decided to stay in Afghanistan for some 20 years, trying to save it from itself.
In those ensuing 20 years, Giuliani went from "America's Mayor" to embarrassingly ridiculous mouthpiece for every lie put forth by Donald Trump, including the lie that he lost his re-election bid to President Joe Biden because the election was rife with vote fraud.
Also in the ensuing 20 years, the Republican Party steadily turned itself from a party that espoused defense of all Americans into a party of an aggrieved white minority whose leaders in Congress legislate only in the interests of wealthy donors who contribute to their campaigns..Inro a cult that believes and repeats Trump's lies or, worse, repeats them for political gain or out of fear.
Whatever galvanized us into one people 20 years ago (a common enemy I suppose) started disintegrating as soon as we started demonizing any group of people, different from us (Muslims) as the enemy. "Us" became more vague."
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