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Column: Sometimes, I wonder...

Posted: September 10, 2018 4:30 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Seventeen years ago, I strolled into the offices of the Beaufort Gazette around mid-morning. I had been up late covering some government meeting or another, probably even went for a beer or six after that, the better to mute the incessant, migraine-inducing governmental drivel I had endured at the meeting.

Needless to say, I had slept in and I really didn’t have a clue as to anything that had happened that morning.

But, I had somehow picked up on the vibe immediately. From the moment I got into my car that morning, I felt something was dreadfully, horribly wrong.

Now, 17 years from my generation’s JFK in Dallas moment, I can’t remember how I felt watching the planes plow into tall buildings.

But what is truly sad is the thought that there are some people out there who don’t -- or won’t -- remember that day at all. Or worse, they celebrate it as something good, just the punch in the face a bloated, spoiled, overbearing nation of fatuous sybarites deserved.

I do have a record of that day. A young reporter and the paper’s music critic (among other things) at the time, I wrote a column, probably that afternoon. Slang, pop culture and youthful self-importance aside, it does help me bring back thoughts and feelings of a numbing, bewildering time.

It ran in the Beaufort Gazette on Friday, Sept. 14, 2001. Here is a portion:

“Shock. Horror. Frustration. Anger. Like everyone else this week, I’ve been long on prayer, short on sleep, and my dreams have been pretty vile. I know life is supposed to go on. I know that. But that doesn’t alter the fact that I hurt. We all hurt.

After Tuesday, it’s somewhat difficult to write a column encouraging people to go out and have a good time. Somehow, I just don’t feel like it, as though enjoying my leisure time is somehow inappropriate.

On the other hand, now more than ever is the time to realize and relish our freedoms -- to be glad we live here, in this wonderful country, in this beautiful town. I’m not saying go out and rock on for America, remember the fallen with shooters and reverb guitar, that hitting the bars and seeing the bands is what the fallen would want us to do.

Far from it.

But what we need to do now is get on with the business of living, and that includes how we spend our leisure time. Life as we know it is already seriously altered forever. We have officially been introduced to adulthood. We cannot take anything for granted.

So we better get our priorities straight. Quit whining and start working. Decide what is important. Celebrate to the fullest all things wonderful. Fight with every ounce of our being all things pustular …”

And here we are 17 years later. Osama Bin Laden is dead, a status I certainly have no trouble celebrating. Indeed, if we believe in certain things, we can be secure in the knowledge that he is currently writhing in screaming agony for all eternity.  If nothing else, we can at least be fairly certain he isn’t coming back.

But the problem I’m having is that we seem to have lost our heads. We argue bitterly over the dumbest things. We are concerned about all things banal and ancillary and don’t seem to care about anything of substance. We seem to be able to elect leaders with either brains or cajones, but not both.

I can’t believe reasonable people would entertain the idea of rampant socialism any more than I can fathom how anyone would believe corporate America is the answer to making America great at all, much less “again.”

We are utterly divided and it seems to get worse every day.  And I am convinced it will never get better until we go back to considering ourselves as Americans first and anything else second.

Bin Laden failed to bring us down. That was evident five seconds after the first plane hit the first tower. He failed, and failed miserably. He only brought years of death and misery to others.

And yet, with all the division and bitterness and bilious invective I hear, see and read, every day, I sometimes have to wonder: is that miserable, murderous, hell-bent and hellbound S.O.B. winning, after all?


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