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Dwyer on Falling in Love with Death

Over at The New York Times Jim Dwyer contemplates the decade since 9/11. He talks about the surprise among troops in 2003 when hearing about NY protests of the war. No one, of course, would be surprised at that today. He then looks back over the years:

Climb the ladder of years, and the view from a decade up is startling. On the near ground, you can see the rubble and loss of war in a place where we had no quarrels that could not have been managed otherwise. In the distance, you can take in the earliest response to 9/11, by men and women who helped one another that morning, who used their last calls to speak of gratitude and love.

With a single glance across time, you behold the profane and the sacred in all their contrapuntal power.

Mounted on the horrors of 9/11, the war in Iraq multiplied them; dead innocent Iraqis succeeded dead innocent Americans at a ratio thought to be more than 30 to one. Yet the only unambiguously useful responses to the day — as we know now, after 10 years, tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars — were made in those early minutes, in deeds not visible to the outside world.

After citing some examples, including a woman who lost a son on 9/11:

That morning, Anne Mulderry sat in the backyard of her home near Albany to wait for news about two of her eight children who worked in Lower Manhattan. Before long, she heard herself howling to the heavens.

Her son Stephen — scrappy college basketball player, family peacemaker — was, when last heard from, in a conference room on the 88th floor of the south tower with a dozen other people, all of them sharing a single phone to make their essential calls.

Much later, struggling to find consolation, Anne Mulderry saw that the choices she faced also confronted the larger world. “How to resist falling in love with death was the question,” she said. “Depression and despair is one way of falling in love with death. Violence and aggression is another way.”

Dwyer continues to look at the effects over the years, and put human faces of life and hope on the tragedy. Read the rest here. The graphic at the top is from rt.com, from their article “US war on terror: the longest-ever knee-jerk reaction“.

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