Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering 9/11,
and what we need to learn from it

I remember where I was when the Twin Towers were struck in New York City.  I was watching Good Morning America, which had outside cameras on their building that caught the entire event, and where the anchors cut to immediate coverage.

Like Pearl Harbor, like presidential assassinations, it marked an extraordinary catalyst that changed our history, that dramatically changed how we live and think.

As someone over the age of 15, and reasonably familiar with the 9/11 congressional investigation and the 9/11 commission report, and the legislation to enable 9/11 law suits against Saudi Arabia, I was surprised that I either overlooked or passed over a remarkable story about the heroic action of a female fighter pilot.  The WaPo did an excellent profile of this remarkable and patriotic female member of our armed forces:

F-16 pilot was ready to give her life on Sept. 11

Penney was to stop Flight 93 — knowing the pilot could be her father.
Maj. Heather Penney, and her father Col. John Penney, both pilots.
Maj. Penny flew an F-16 on Sept. 11, 2001, that was destined to intercept
and possibly bring down Flight 93.
Penny Family Photo

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything,   Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.
The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.
Except her own plane. So that was the plan.
Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.
“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”
This is all the more remarkable in the context of the current presidential election cycle, where the GOP candidate is praised by retired high level military officers who signed an open letter supporting him, who want women out of the military in any significant numbers and especially in front line and combat positions.  We have a presidential nominee for the GOP who blames military rape on women serving in the military, while ignoring that the serious problem with his argument, and the same fault with his campaign's statements: most military rapes are men being raped by other men. 

That fails correctly to define the problem of sexual assault, and it blames the victim.  More to the point, in a volunteer military, it deprives the armed forces of the services of highly patriotic and highly competent personnel.

Sadly we have the divisive push from the right that is anti-women, anti-Muslims (and those mistaken for Muslims), anti-immigrants, the anti-LGBT, and the usual other deplorable assorted racists and intolerant bigots. We are weaker now from ignorance, not because of what we did to oppose terrorism, but because of what we did not learn, because of hate and suspicion and bigotry, because of political division that benefits the right in propagandizing their base for fund raising and right wing voter turn out.

From the Independent:


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