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Five Years and Not Fixed

By LC Van Savage

Five years. Had you forgotten? No. Now it’s all over the news again, and all the pundits and armchair quarterbacks everywhere are solving the mysteries of why 9/11 happened. As there continues to be with the Kennedy assassination and the grassy knoll, there will be endlessly endless investigations into the thing that blindsided America on September 11, 2001. No one will ever agree. No one will ever admit, and no one will ever know. But all of us who desperately try to understand and will always listen to the lessons of history will always wonder why they hate us. Is it because of our various religions or lack of same? Because many American women walk around or are filmed nearly naked? Because decadent, immoral people capture our headlines? No. Too easy. It goes way deeper than that.

Now because of 9/11, we know we are no longer safe, can no longer travel anywhere without fear, so my guess is that the people who planned and flew the plane-bombs have won.

Why us? Well, clearly and historically we’ve done things to tick off the rest of the world and I think it’s time we learned why and stopped doing it. Did the 3000 people who died in the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the crash of Pennsylvania flight 93 deserve to die like that? No. No one on earth anywhere deserves to die like that.

When the first tower was hit, I called our son Erick because 2 years before he’d worked there in a corner office on the 4th and then the 35th floor. He and I talked and then he suddenly shouted, "Oh my God, there goes the other one!" I hung up.

I’ll never forget the day Erick proudly showed us through the two gigantic towers, how we zipped past the long lines straight up to the top and stood there seeing Staten Island where I’d been born, seeing that incomparable panoramic view on a day as clear and beautiful as 9/11 would be. It was like walking through a city of the future; breathtaking, mammoth, beyond belief. Erick had been transferred by his company to upstate New York. If he hadn’t, we’d also be grieving his death today.

Erick lost many friends that day, amongst them a big lovable goombah named "Grapes," so named because he favored purple suits. Erick loved Grapes. Everyone did. Grapes made it out of the building just as it came down but did not make it out after going back in to help his friends.

Erick went to Grapes’s funeral out on Long Island, NY and it was so brutally sad that to this day he won’t talk about it. But he went and said goodbye to Grapes, but it wasn’t Grapes in that coffin. DNA tests told the family later they’d buried some other big man, so badly disfigured they could only guess it was Grapes. His personal trademark, the purple suit, couldn’t be seen because had been burned off. It wasn’t his anyway. How did Grapes’s family survive that cruel, horrific double blow? They had no choice.

Fortunately, many of Erick’s friends and colleagues either hadn’t arrived for work yet on 9/11 or they made it out, but it’s changed them dramatically; they’re not the same. He chats with them from upstate NY sometimes, but the old banter is gone, the camaraderie has shifted by degrees, the laughter isn’t as raucous.

That hideous story is only one of thousands. Why did that happen? What did it accomplish? When will it happen again? How can families move on? Who knows enough about world history to help us understand why we, this great big country filled, we’re told, with great big wonderful adorable lovely, giving people, are so hated that the threats hanging over us are deadly, close, endless and horrifying. Have we earned their hatred?

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