I didn’t get this out on 9/11 because I was working. All of us too far from downtown or the churches in Cordova to get to wear our Class A got to wear our special memorial t-shirts the fire museum was selling, which was a nice change from the blue we normally wear.
We were watching all the documentaries through the morning, followed by the NFL, which proved disappointing. I showed by age a little talking about when I was a senior in high school (2001-2002 school year) and all the guys at my station except for my partner were already on the job and now had 15+ years on. Interesting to see how quickly time has passed and what has transpired since then. History like that tends to leave a benchmark on the lives of people who witness it, and definitely on those live (through) it. I listened to all the radio and telephone calls on the documentary with interest, because I remember sitting in physics class as my teacher taught about thermodynamics and heat transfer in relation to structural steel and why the second tower collapsed faster because it had a greater potential energy from being struck at the top. I think it was just his way of making sense of tragedy as well as keeping us distracted from thinking about what just took place. One of the few times in high school I remember we were instructed to turn on televisions in the classroom and didn’t have class the rest of the day.
Funny how things have changed in the past 10 years since that day. From the standpoint of what I was doing then, and continued to do through college and even now as a profession, things have done a 270. It seems that firefighters, not just in New York but everywhere, were suddenly rockstars. Very much like rockstars, we rode that train as far as it could take us. All of a sudden, doors and windows were open to us to take any training we wanted and order any equipment we wanted. My department bought a new engine and sent people to training for all kinds of things. The money seemed endless.
Today, the rockstar shine is very much gone. Today, public servants who risk their very lives and (more often) sanity for the people of the area they protect are viewed as drains on the public coffers and burdens on the system. Today, politicians that would not have dared touch public safety pensions now fight to strip those away (Ohio Issue 2) or ignore their own laws for collective bargaining completely (here in Memphis). I am all for people paying their fair share, but is it fair to take benefits for yourself while slashing benefits of those underneath you? I never thought so. I would say we have a complete breakdown of morals and ethics in this country.
But also, maybe we caused this ourselves. Were we so proud of ourselves to push the envelope of what we could take when we could take it that we made others jealous? Proverbs 16:18 says that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Did our attitudes of arrogance and pride cause us to walk into a sense of security that we thought that we could never be touched? The false sense of security lulled us to sleep and those who wished more for themselves started taking from us. This is pretty much how America is today. Our pride blinded us to the dangers of those that wished us ill, and our attitudes of superiority led us to stumble, now the Chinese own our debt while they artificially create prosperity.
So 9/11 for me was simply a reminder that 10 years ago almost 3000 people died in an act of violence perpetrated by men against their fellow man, and that while politicians beat their chests about how brave the men and women who gave their lives and continue to do so for defending their neighbors and their country, the little people are still getting stepped on. They shake our hands while stabbing us in the back with the other, they continue to take while we continue to let them take. Meanwhile, while the real problems that led to all of this are still unaddressed.
A little video of a segment from a George Carlin special I ran across illustrates my point.