Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Sunday musings 9/11/16

Sunday musings…

It was a Tuesday. For sure. Tuesday is an OR day for me, and I was with my work people on what looked to be a pretty vanilla Tuesday morning. That’s how you like it in the OR: vanilla. A good day is no memory of the operations whatsoever. A great day is one where you remember some interaction with your teammates, something good or funny or nice.

9/11 was definitely a Tuesday. What I remember is being with one group of my people.

Everything about the day was going just like every other Tuesday. Fast cases with great results. Stories flying back and forth between doc, nurses and patients. Just a joy to be doing my job. Until, that is, one of the nurses came into my room and said a plane had hit a tower. To a person our collective response was something like “huh…that’s weird. How tragic,” and then back to work. Back to normal until that very same nurse came back and said a second plane had hit the second tower. We all stopped after that case and headed to the family lounge, a TV and CNN.

I remember being in a similar place when the Challenger blew up, surrounded by colleagues, patients and families. That’s where I was when the first tower collapsed. After that nothing was normal about the day at all. There is literally nothin in my memory banks about the rest of the morning. I know we finished the cases, but then everything came to a full and complete stop. Clinic hours were cancelled, schools let out, and the wheels of American life ground to a halt. The rest of the day was spent in tracking down my brother (traveling now by car from Chicago to Connecticut), and best friend (stranded in Brazil). The skies were empty for days.

Our new normal had just kicked in.

My parents worried about an attack on our soil from Germany to the east (U-Boats off the coast of New England) or Japan from the west (a friend posted the story of a Japanese pilot who actually fire-bomb Oregon!). As a child our politics and our lives were spent worrying about the specter of a communist attack. As an adult, a father and a grandfather, it is now the fear of Jihad unleashed. The post-Reagan/post-Berlin Wall years of relative peace and security seem so very long ago now, don’t they?

The reality, of course, is that we are far safer than we think we are. Yet our own personal realities are driven by the same psychology that led our parents to fear a coastal invasion, for us to fear Russian bombers. We march on each day, as we must. We march on so that each day’s completion becomes one more tiny victory in yet another long war fought for us mostly between the ears, so much like the Cold War before it. We seek victory once again in the daily act of living our normal lives.

We remember, though. Like I remember that it was a Tuesday. We never forget, nor should we try to forget. It is in the remembering and carrying on despite the remembering that we do our tiny part to honor those who were lost. Today is a day to take a moment away from normal to remember.

I remember.

I’ll see you next week…


Postscript: Deny The Bombers A Legacy

There’s a certain story I’d like to read or hear following the harrowing week in Boston. A postscript, if you will. There’s also one in which I have precisely zero interest. My bet: you feel the same.

Do tell me about the heroes. Tell me about the men and women who turned and walked TOWARD the blast. Talk to me about the civilians who chose not to run away, but to run TOWARD the chaos. Let me know their stories. What were they thinking? What is their back story? How did they come to be at that spot at that time on that day? Make sure to follow-up and tell me how they are doing now, too. Don’t let me forget them either as the white, hot glare of the moment cools inexorably into the impersonal embers of history.

Tell me the stories of our public servants. How they worked around the clock to save the victims, went without sleep to find the perps. Give me the details of how a city’s doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers performed better under pressure than any episode of M*A*S*H, and did so without ever really, truly training for such carnage. Who are they? What did they sacrifice? Make sure that I don’t forget them, either, once the video fades to black.

Impress me with the work of our public safety personnel. The Boston city cops and their suburban brethren in Watertown, Cambridge et al. The Mass State troopers and the FBI agents. Tell me about the teamwork, the absence of turf wars between the services. How everyone was united in the single-minded pursuit of the demons who created such horror. Let me know some of their stories, too, at least the ones that aren’t secret without jeopardizing their ability to do their jobs. When all is said and done keep the stories of the cops, the troopers, and the special agents alive so that we may cheer their bravery, resolve, and results.

But don’t…don’t tell me anything about the cretins who did this other than that which might be used to stop others from following in their footsteps. I care not for their troubles. I care not about their back stories. Tell me only those things about the background story that apply to the hunt for any accomplices, any others who lent succor to these two who had such little regard for life that they purposely sought not only to end it, but to ravage it. No, I don’t wish to hear anything about their wretched lives or their warped rationalizations, nor do I care to see their roles paraded in front of our nation as the survivor is tried. Let us learn what we must to exterminate their verifiable “supply chain”, and then redact any mention of their very lives.

Bury them, and all mention of them. Deprive them of any legacy whatsoever. We cannot erase the reality of their acts, nor can we erase the memories of this tragedy. What is once seen or heard cannot be unseen, or unheard. The cold, hard facts of the story will live on, as they must. The stories of the victims and their families, as well as the law enforcement officers, healthcare workers and civilian heroes, ┬ácan live on through the conscious will of we, the people. But not the monsters. Not the story of the men who did this. No, don’t tell me their stories. Don’t write or speak or show their names. Deny them the very history of their existence.

Deny them their name.