I want to say something profound about today. I remember where I was when I heard the news about the World Trade Center. I remember putting flowers at the embassy. I remember the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. I remember the Osama bin Laden videos and I remember his death.
But mostly today, I remember those who have died in terror and in violence: the office workers and the plane passengers who must surely have felt such overwhelming fear; the emergency personnel who faced an nightmare task and yet tried anyway. I remember the soldiers who died far from home, over three thousand of them to date. And then I remember the civilians, those who have died at the hands of Taliban fighters and coalition troops and NATO bombs, whose lives must surely have been transformed into a living hell when they should be a wonderful vista of hope and opportunity. I think of the car bombs and the airstrikes and the raids-gone-wrong and the soldiers-gone-mad, of the massacres in Kapisa and Kunar and Kandahar. The mothers and daughters and fathers and sons and uncles and teachers and shopkeepers. The brides and grooms. Those are the ghosts I find in my consciousness today.
I think: maybe we are doing something wrong, to have trapped so many people between two walls of violence. Both sides will tell you they are right, and you are forced to pick a narrative. Personally I don’t believe in right or wrong, and I am a strong believer in the shaping power of circumstance. But at the end of the day, that kind of thinking seems out of place.
A lot of people have died as a result of the immense ripples of what happened eleven years ago today. Whatever you believe, today is a good day to remember them.