Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Reichstag is burning



Today  in school we had one of our "balancing" classes, designed to remind us that we, by necessity must become imbalanced in order not to flunk out of med school. At least, that's what I take away from the classes. Nevertheless, there are usually some nuggets of wisdom to take home, and today provided a couple. The first one, I'll just briefly mention, is about a doctor who was diagnosed with terminal esophogeal cancer and, during this time gave lectures and wrote a book. It was only last spring he was in the lecture hall, kind of as a dead man walking, lecturing about the important things in life. The students who are now second year OMS's got this lecture, and I wish that we would get the same honor, but alas, he passed a few months ago.

The second half of the class we formed small groups and discussed how 9/11 affected us, what happened to us that day, etc. Of course, many of my fellow students were still in high-school back then and in a few short years this will no longer be a day that "everyone" remembers. I can remember growing up and people talking about the day Kennedy was shot, or the moon landing and even Pearl Harbor. Soon, I will be one of those people, talking about the day 9/11 hit. I know everyone has a story about that day, but, since this is my blog, I'll write mine down -- I wouldn't want to forget any of the details in my old age!

In 2001 I found myself in the first real, serious relationship that I had ever been in. We had purchased a house together in SE Portland, I was working with some friends as sub-contractors making decent money in the construction business. Needless to say, I had no intentions of going back to school, much less moving to Florida, where the girl I was seeing at the time was from. That summer she decided to return to grad school, and she wanted to attend a program in Tampa, FL. Long story short, I was to young and naive at the time to figure this out, but I don't think I was really invited to go along. I didn't let that stop me, however, and we packed up the Honda, with our two dogs and drove to Florida. The girl's father had a business acquaintance who owned a retail flooring company, and was kind enough basically to get me hired sight unseen. This was nice, and I appreciated it, but I soon found myself very unhappy working for someone else, as I had gotten used to basically being my own boss. Now, I was expected to show up at 6 AM sharp and take instruction from the Vietnam Vet who was the other installer that worked there. Awesome. Oh, and the fact I was taking a 75% cut in pay made for a very difficult pill to swallow. I was 22 years old at this time, and I'd like to think that I'd handle things much better these days, as I'm sure the Vietnam Vet nor the couple that owned the business were very thrilled with having me around, either.

I'd been working with this outfit for only a few days when 9/11 occurred. Our job that day was to replace glue down carpet in a mortgage brokerage company. Basically, it was one big room full of desks, with a few offices off to the side. We had to slide all the desks to one side of the room (I remember the Vietnam Vet making me unplug all the computers and phones, as he said he didn't want to mess that stuff up) basically making one big desk on one side, while we scraped the carpet off the concrete on the cleared side. Awesome work -- I can feel my lower back tense up just thinking about it. We'd been working for close to 2 hours when the boss burst out of the office, bringing her TV, on a rolling stand with her. Sure enough, a plane had flown into the WTC tower in NYC. We all watched, (well, I snuck peaks while my Vietnam Vet overlord told me to scrape faster) until the next plane hit. That's when people began to pay attention. I remember seeing it live, as the camera panned upwards as the plane screamed low over the buildings. Of course, not long after that there was the Pentagon incident and the Pennsylvania field crash. By 11 in the morning, I was still scraping carpet, but now the 20 or 30 ladies that were still left in the office were all sitting around this one, older lady who was standing on her desk, reading with a booming voice from the Bible. Of course, she was in the book of Revelation, describing bowls of wrath being poured out. Women were crying, weeping, shaking. I was scraping, wondering when I could go home.

A side note, one I had forgotten about until today when we were discussing how that day impacted us, has to do with the US's central command, which is in Tampa. I'm not sure if this is correct, but I remember people saying that all military air traffic was directed out of central command, and that if there were more attacks coming, this base, a dozen or so miles from where I lived was sure to be high on the list. The description of a nuclear weapon brought in on some kind of ship or submarine into Tampa Bay haunted for me for a bit. I, like most people, was just a tad bit more jumpy than usual in those proceeding weeks.

I've always been very skeptical. Of everything. I'm not sure you could call me a "truther" which is a name given to all those who say that 9/11 either was an inside job, or at least coordinated by our Government. However, I'm open to any and all evidence, from both sides. I've always enjoyed history (in fact, I'd love to be a history professor, but, alas . . .) and I wasn't the only one who soon began to think about the Reichstag incident that preceded the Nazi Party's rise to power in pre-war Germany. I really do believe that it is important to know know, or at least beware of the history of this sordid species, capable of great deceit and manipulation. Anyway, enough of that.

However, the reason I even bring this up, is that I was mildly and pleasantly surprised by my younger classmates today. Overwhelmingly they felt that 9/11 was used inappropriately. One person mentioned that, if he were old enough when 9/11 occurred that he would have joined the Marines, but now, with the benefit of a decade of failed military action in multiple places around the globe, all intimately initiated because of 9/11, he is thankful that he was 14 instead of 18. I really don't know what the real story is behind 9/11. I'm fairly sure it is not the one told on CNN, but that goes for everything. If anything, I felt like there was hope for the future, and that whoever it was, and whatever they were trying to accomplish by flying those planes into those buildings would not get what they want. Granted, the sample population was young medical students, so I'm not foolish enough to think this is indicative of the general population, but I'm thankful for people who are not so quick to buy whatever the mass media news outlets are selling.

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