I experienced 9/11 very differently from most Americans because I had just moved to Toulouse, France to be with my girlfriend who (obviously) was French. This was back in the old days before the immigration crisis when you could get away with staying in Europe for months (or in my case – years). I can’t be positive of the timing but I was either at the airport or at the train station in Paris when it began. I wouldn’t find out what happened until I arrived at the train station in Toulouse.
I’ll never forget the look on my girlfriend’s face as she met me at the station. I saw her on the platform as the train pulled in so I stuck my arm out the window and started waving. I could tell something was wrong right away. I opened the train door and she just started telling me what happened. No greeting. No “How was your trip?”. She just launched into a full description of planes hitting the twin towers and then coming down. I’m not going to lie – I seriously thought it was just a weird prank at first. Who would be so evil to do something like that? How could that ever happen in America? How could that ever happen in New York City?
We turned on the TV as soon as we got home and managed to find a station in English for me. I watched the towers as the jets slammed into them. I watched people jump to their deaths rather than be burned alive. I watched the towers fall. It still didn’t feel real. How could this happen to us? We’re America. I told my girlfriend before we turned the TV off for the evening - “Well, I don’t know who it will be… but we’re going to war with somebody” which was sad but also mildly amusing as my good buddy Nero who was in Denmark with his girlfriend had said “Bear, when you and I are both on European soil world war three will break out.” It’s almost like that bastard knew.
Over the next few days and weeks I really felt a genuine outpouring of sadness and solidarity from the French. American flags were in windows. When people discovered I was American they would say how sad they were about 9/11. That would gradually fade away as the Bush administration launched the Iraq War. At first, I felt their scorn for the war was too much. Now I only wish I had felt like them from the beginning rather than being blinded by anger at what happened and a national media fully intent on parroting government talking points.
If you had said “Bear – we will still be involved in those wars in 2020” I would have never believed you. Never. Or if you had said “Bear – both political parties will mindlessly continue those wars” I would have laughed. Surely, once we figured out how odious those wars are we’ll bring the troops home, right? The Bush / Obama establishment nightmare didn’t care and even now as President Trump tries to end those wars the establishment fights back. I fully support Trump trying to bring the troops home. We’ve spent trillions on foreign wars while the bridges and dams in our country collapse. Enough. We’ve continued to let our soldiers be murdered overseas while our cities’ water pipes become toxic and damage the brains of our children. Enough. My brother was hurt and could have been killed by a roadside IED in Iraq. Enough.
“You want to just pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan?”
A Biden presidency would mean a return to the establishment. The establishment doesn’t care about your kid getting blown up overseas. The establishment doesn’t care about your drinking water. The establishment doesn’t care when dams fail or bridges collapse. We’ve seen what they want for America. Can you imagine another presidency staffed by the same Obama staffers so we can have the same failed policies for another 4 years?
Today we remember 9/11 for what happened on this day in 2001 but we also need to see what it has led to in 2020. We know these wars are failed policies. We know they were started by false pretenses. We know they were continued by both Republicans and Democrats. We also know Donald Trump wants to end them and bring the troops home. The choice is clear. Vote Trump this fall.