by Jerry Agar
How much has changed since the attacks of 9/11?
One powerful memory is the sight of members of congress, Republicans and Democrats spontaneously breaking into God Bless America on the steps of the capitol building. They were as one, Americans, under attack and finally united.
Watching the Republican and Democratic conventions over the past few weeks it doesn’t seem like that now.
Except that it is. Political fighting — in Canada as well — is very 9/10. It is so yesterday, and that is good. It’s how a democracy and a free people behave. We argue, vigorously, but we don’t take up arms against one another. Take up arms against us, as the terrorists did that day, and we are one.
We were one with the United States then. We bravely allowed in-bound flights to divert from their American destinations to Gander, Newfoundland, with no way to know whether danger lurked.
One letter to the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke of, “all the goodness and kindness that was showered upon us by our neighbors and friends from Canada.” Western civilization was and is under attack, and we are a part of it.
Ultimately the terrorists failed, because they did not know who we are.
They targeted the twin towers because the towers were a centre of commerce. But western civilization is not about money, it is about freedom. Money is just a tool of freedom and individual self-realization.
The U.S. immediately began the task of rebuilding on the twin tower site. Almost as quickly, they began to argue about how to do it. That is sort of heart-warming in a way. Back to business.
Of course, we went to war, and more than 150 Canadians have died in Afghanistan, a country most of us couldn’t have located on a map before 9/11. For the loved ones of those brave men and women, life has changed for the worse, and forever. God bless them.
Mostly life has not changed day to day for the rest of us. We go about our business and don’t think about 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The difference is at the border and the airport. We haven’t been attacked at the airport. But then we haven’t been attacked on the subway like our friends in London, England. Big difference in cost; no difference in result.
The massive cost eats money that could be used in the search for terrorists among us — who may one day attack the trains — or left in the pockets of the taxpayers. It has resulted in lost productivity and some degree of privacy.
The intention was good. In the wake of any tragedy, we seek a solution, hoping that if we change procedures, rules or laws we can prevent another family from having to suffer through the loss of a loved one.
At airports we’ve spent enormously and we are not safer as a result.
The attacks set us back. They thrust horror, confusion and pain into our lives — either the intense personal tragedy of the senseless loss of a loved one or the furious anger of an innocent nation.
We have rebuilt.
We have responded.
We will survive.
In the end it is about freedom, and in many ways, little and large, freedom is worth fighting for. Terrorists, foreign and domestic, can’t take it away. Let’s not give it up.
— Agar is the 9 a.m. to noon host on Newstalk 1010
Categories: Contributor Columns