On Tuesday September 11, 2001, militants associated with Islamic extremist group Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. I remember exactly where I was when terrorist aircraft struck.
First, two of the planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, I was on my way to Ben’s Chili Bowl to meet with my friend music promoter Robert Brown, when a third hit the Pentagon just outside of the Nation’s Capital in Washington, DC.
I was meeting with Brown to discuss a fundraising Fashion and Hair Show for my non-profit organization, Kids In Trouble, Inc later that evening. I was co-hosting the show at the Sports Bar located in the MCI Center in downtown DC.
I remember my neighbor and friend; Gil Hoffman was driving me to the meeting. We were headed south via 395 to the 3rd street tunnel when I noticed smoke shooting skyward in the direction of Pentagon City.
I never thought of the possibility of a plane crashing into the Pentagon. Without a lot of conversation about the smoke Gil dropped me off at Ben’s Chili Bowl and he headed back home to Southeast DC.
When I walked into Ben’s Chili Bowl it was then I was told of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Robert Brown had yet to arrive for our meeting. I immediately called him to tell him to cancel and we would talk later.
My route back home to Southeast DC was safety first, instead of taking the subway directly across the street from Ben’s, I hesitated thinking there was the possibility of terrorists making the subway one of its targets, I took the bus on U street to the National Guard Armory in Northeast DC. I caught the subway one stop back to Potomac Avenue and boarded a bus to Suitland Road and Southern Avenue–once across the bridge, someone on the bus said, “We are safe now, SE is the last place the terrorist would attack!” While others laughed, the thought just brought a smile to my face–I was still nervous!
I called Robert as soon as I arrived home and we both were in disbelief what had just taken place in New York City and Virginia. Now there was news of a 4th plane crash in Pennsylvania. Flight 93 had crashed into a field in Somerset County (Shanksville). It was reported several passengers and crew tried in vain to take control of the plane before it crashed.
It was business as usual for Robert, he was already thinking about re-scheduling the show for October–the show must go on!
Robert was at the top of his game as a promoter and marketing guru in the music business in the Nation’s Capital. James Brown “The Godfather of Soul” and “The Ice Man” Jerry Butler were just two of the great acts he promoted.
It was two decades ago nineteen hijackers committed murder-suicide. There were 2,977 lives lost and 6,000 others were injured. Three-hundred and forty-four heroic firefighters lost their lives when they went into the World Trade Center to save others. There were 55 military personnel lost at the Pentagon and 265 lives lost on the four planes. The attacks remain the deadliest in American history.
I often wonder did we learn anything from the terrorist attacks 20 years ago?
I remember reading a Heritage Foundation story written by David Inserra relating to the attack. Inserra was a former policy analyst for Homeland Security issues, including cyber and immigration policy as well as critical infrastructure.
He wrote, “The U. S. mindset irreversibly changed that day. No longer did we perceive a world largely at peace following the end of the Cold War. Instead, evil came and found us. The warning signs had been there for years. The World Trade Center was first bombed in 1993. Also, during the ’90s, U.S. embassies and military assets overseas had been attacked. The Taliban had sunk Afghanistan into poverty, violence, and religious persecution and was already known to provide a haven for al-Qaeda. We even knew some of the men who would become 9/11 hijackers and had bits of information about them and their possible activities. Since that fateful day 18 years ago (2021 makes 20 years), we have revolutionized the way we combat terrorism.”
The lessons of war have been hard and deadly. For example, we just walked away from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. We left the Taliban back in control once again. When the Taliban fighters rode triumphantly into Kabul airport last week, they did so in U. S. pick-up trucks wearing American-made uniforms and brandishing American M4 and M16 rifles. They inherited tens of millions of dollars of aircraft and armored vehicles. The group’s fast sweep through the city netted them billions of dollars’ worth of U. S. military equipment and weaponry. The Taliban then spent hours examining the wealth U. S. troops left behind–they must have felt like they hit the U. S. Lottery and didn’t need a ticket.
It is going to get worst according to the New York Times, one headline read, “America Stretches Across Political Divide to Welcome Afghan refugees.” But you ask yourself, how can this be when we cannot get American politicians to stretch across the political divide to abolish lynching in America and the right to vote?
The U. S. is bringing close to fifty-thousand refugees back to America to house, feed, and find them employment to live the American Dream? It has been reported that the Taliban terrorists are holding six American aircraft hostage and not allowing U. S. citizens to fly out of Kabul airport–a ransom note can be expected. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
In the meantime, tax-paying Americans are being evicted from their homes, their unemployment has expired, forest fires, floods, and thugs and cops are playing like it is “The Wild-Wild West” in American cities.
Our problem, now we must sleep with one eye open, and one eye closed to stay alert for the next Taliban attack with our own weapons of mass destruction.
There are now terrorists within and without; Trump and his boys, mass shootings, our kids are in trouble (COVID-19 and gun violence), seniors are being scammed out of close to 2 billion dollars annually (greed), and unpredictable weather across the country. There are some who claim love is the answer, but as vocalist Tina Turner said, “What does love have to do with it? Freedom ain’t free and the price being paid is a little too high!