The US markets will open soon. The dollar will open lower. The Dow will open lower. The euro is at the brink. European financial institutions are getting hammered. Greece is on the verge of default. Italy, Portugal and Spain are scrambling to attract investors.
Bank of America is ready to trim payroll by 40,000. Wells Fargo is trimming projections. Credit ratings of French banks are set to lower. Germany has opted to save their crumbling banks and toss the euro zone’s sovereign debt to the wind.
Today, none of that matters. After spending Sunday viewing the emotional 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, America has every right to stand down for a moment and peer into the looking glass.
It is also time for the country to reflect about what has happened since those attacks. The noted Presidential Historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, put it best when summarizing the effects of 9/11.
Yesterday, Kearns eloquently capsulized the last ten years as the most reckless decade in American history. She pointed to the nearly 6,000 troops that have recklessly been killed in reckless wars. She emphasized her point by referring to the 40,000 wounded men and women who have been seriously injured with life-altering wounds.
Kearns raised the reckless conduct that has threatened the nation’s financial integrity. She cited the reckless behavior recently exhibited by Congress. Kearns made these statements in an NBC interview that had the backdrop of the names of victims being read at Ground Zero.
As wives, mothers, fathers and children drove an emotional message straight to the heart. Kearns’s message became more powerful by the minute. So powerful that it was necessary to call a friend and hash it out.
I cried when my father died. I cried when my mother died. I cried powerfully when I first faced the Wall at the National Mall in 1997. Visiting schoolchildren were hushed by my reaction. The sensation was so powerful that I literally had to turn away from the Wall. My wife was stunned by the response.
Caregivers at the Wall handed me tissues and patted my back. I do not know how long the Wall paralyzed me by the power of an experience gone by. Eventually, I turned back to the Wall for some amount of time before taking refuge near the Korean War Memorial. We sat for hours. Eventually, it eased. I felt cleansed. It lasted for one or two years. Then, I had to go back.
When in the area, I visit my parent’s gravestones every week. Suzanne goes by every day. Sometimes, I just stand there. Sometimes, it is comforting. Sometimes, it is very sad.
Yesterday was powerful; more powerful than imagined. I love America. I realize the unrealistic way we have lived. I believe that wars of hearts and minds are fruitless.
I am blessed with a new, robust heart. I am blessed with 8 grandchildren; 6 boys 9 and under and 2 granddaughters aged 9 and 2.
What have we done? This is a question I asked 43 years ago and many times since. As usual, Doris Kearns Goodwin got it right. We have been reckless. It would be more reckless to continue our national bickering, our political inaction and do something constructive, not destructive.
Yesterday, I cried… a lot. I cried for the tragic loss of life on September 11th. This crying was different than what marked my first visit to the Wall almost 30 years after the fact; different too than the death of my parents. Every now and then a tear would just roll down my cheek. I kept a white towel around my neck all day.
I did cry for lost loved ones. I did.
But, I cried for our children and grandchildren. And, it would not stop. I cried because they will not enjoy the relatively safe and terror-free world we were afforded. I cried because of the uneasiness our children will share with Pakistanis, Afghans and Iraqis and throughout the world.
What was done on 9/11 was reckless. Our response was reckless. This recklessness must stop and we must begin to care for the lives our young will lead.
We know that is the best gift we can give. When our children can age safely, laughingly and without having to look back over their shoulders, then and only then, will the crying stop.