No real winner in decade since attacks

Ten years ago this Sunday I stepped into the shower to get ready for a new day, but there was no way for me to know how that context of a ‘new day’ had changed by the time I towelled off.

Ten years ago this Sunday I stepped into the shower to get ready for a new day, but there was no way for me to know how that context of a ‘new day’ had changed by the time I towelled off.

I walked into my living room to news that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. At the time it was thought to be a wayward commuter plane. By the time I had arrived at the downtown Grant MacEwan campus in Edmonton the second tower had been hit, the Pentagon had been hit and there was no question that the U.S. was under attack.

That day of classes was a wash as we spent the day watching the events unfold on the various news stations.

It’s also how I spent the next 48 hours, only peeling myself away from the TV to catch the bus to and from school. I sat there in stunned silence, like many, trying to comprehend what had just happened and was going to happen.

My roommate had to physically peel me away from the 19-inch box.

My dad had to talk me out of dropping out of school and joining the Canadian Forces.

In the following days we were urged by political leaders on both sides of the border to try and find some normalcy again, to get back to our lives.

At a time when sports and entertainment seemed like the least important thing in the world, for many it was the key to finding that normalcy.

While it certainly didn’t seem natural to be sitting and watching football and baseball with the images of planes flying into buildings still fresh in my mind, that feeling eventually waned and I was able to at least put the events of Sept. 11 on the back burner for a few hours.

I remember watching Jay Leno’s first show back after the attacks as he struggled to answer whether or not there was a place in the post-attack world for a program like his, but that shows like the Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman served a role of respite.

Meanwhile the NFL and Major League Baseball wrapped themselves in the American flag, nothing completely new, but for once it seemed completely appropriate.

Sports and entertainment became even more that glorious distraction that made everything else temporarily less important.

The terrorist attacks did many things.

They spawned two wars, one on terror and another born out of fabrication.

They pitted democracy against fanaticism.

Moderation against extremism.

There has been a cultural war.

A referendum on religion.

And certainly religion has been put up against religion.

The attacks in one stroke became a unifying force that even just for a few months brought a continent together, but it also didn’t take long for new lines of division to form.

The cause of freedom became a rallying point, but in the years since it has almost become a punch line: “such and such means the terrorists have won.”

The last 10 years have brought out the best in us and, sadly, has also at times brought out the worst.

It has been near impossible to keep score as to who’s winning in this new day. The ripples of those attacks are still being felt.

The only thing for certain is an entire generation has lost its innocence.

And for that we have all lost.

jaldrich@bprda.wpengine.com

Twitter.com/Ridingthepine03