When I read on Yahoo! News about new pictures released by the FBI from the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, I had to look into it.
WARNING: Both the FBI Website and the Yahoo! story have images that can be disturbing and/or triggering.
Washington (AFP) – Never-seen photographs from the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon released by the FBI this week show the massive devastation that faced first responders.
Twenty-seven pictures from that day depict the crushed walls, blazing fires and eviscerated interiors of the seat of the US Department of Defense.
American Airlines Flight 77 out of Dulles International Airport slammed into the Pentagon’s western wall, killing all 64 people on the plane, including the five hijackers, and 125 on the ground.
One poignant shot shows an American flag tangled in concrete-and-rebar wreckage being cleared by a tractor.
As people who visit this site often know, I just released a new edition of my play, The 9/11 Project, meant as both memento of that day and my memorial to all those who lost their lives because of that attack – in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, and in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Would it be too much to call 9/11 the defining event of the early 21st century?
Perhaps, in that other events of the last decade, like the “Great Recession” of 2008, or the election of Barack Obama – and Donald Trump – can be seen as coming from movements and forces in play long before that September morning.
But that moment – and how America chose to respond to it – defined so much of what came after. We went to war supposedly to overthrow governments we accused of developing weapons of mass destruction, of harboring and supporting terrorists; to find how terrorism flourishes in the absence of governments willing and able to keep order. What was meant to be a quick demonstration of American power and resolve became what is now “The Long War.”
Drone strikes and expanded Government surveillance powers have become a point of controversy – are they unfortunate but necessary tools to fight terrorism, or a betrayal of American core values (or are they both?) Even the fear of Muslims and the feeling America has somehow become weaker as it became more inclusive that played such a part in the last election – it all goes back to that September morning.
I began work on what would become The 9/11 Project shortly after the attacks first as a way of dealing with my feelings of shock and grief. From over a hundred songs that would come over the next ten years I selected thirty-three to at first become a three-part album; but the songs suggested a story – or more accurately, a story of stories, stories of ordinary Americans living and fighting in that roller-coaster of a decade – that would become a three-act musical play, and now this latest iteration. As always, my “mission” with this Project is to inspire Americans to spare some thought, to care what those who go to war go through on their behalf, beyond the usual patriotism and platitudes.
In this latest edition I cut the songs to three but kept all the emotional impact. It’s meant to be easier for school, college, smaller professional and amateur groups to produce. Later this year I want to offer a compete soundtrack for the 9/11 Project.
My current goal is to reach out to theater groups across the country, looking to find some that would help me finally bring this story to the stage. The 9/11 Project is currently for sale here and on Amazon; but if you’re with a legitimate theater group, please contact me for more information.
NOTE: The 9/11 Project script does not come with either production or photocopy rights. For those, you will need to contact me.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled history, LOL.
I’m really looking forward to seeing Spike Lee’s Chiraq premiering December 4.
Chiraq parallels my novel Black on Black (on sale here at Lions Quarter!) in that both deal with gang violence in Chicago and both approach it as something we can do something about—if we’re willing to fight for it—rather than as some kind of hopeless, unavoidable tragedy.
The big difference, though, is that Chiraq is a comedy—that takes balls to attempt, and genius to pull off; I’m holding judgment on the last one until I actually see it.
The basic plot, so far as I understand it, is taken from an ancient Greek comedy called Lysistrata by Aristophanes. At the time it was written, Ancient Greece wasn’t really a country yet; rather it was a region filled with Greek-speaking one-city states and various power blocs of the same; and if they weren’t fighting off a common enemy, they were usually fighting each other. In short, a lot like the streets of Chicago, divided up amongst its gangs.
Lysistrata—“army buster” in Greek—and her fellow ladies (on both sides!) got tired of their menfolk always marching off to war, so they organized a strike: no more Naked Fun Time (If You Know What I Mean) unless they called off their silly war!
In Chiraq, a modern day Lysistrata and her girlfriends seek to bring peace to the streets of Chicago the same way, as exemplified by this poster:
That said, this film as already notoriously controversial. Aldermen and even the Mayor have tried to make Lee change the film’s name. They have called Chiraq “a slap in the face” to residents paying their taxes and working to overcome Chicago’s violent, crime-infested image.
And yet, as Lee insists, he did not come up with the name “Chiraq.” Rappers who live in Chicago did that. They use it when they sing about the almost unending, senseless crime and tragic waste of life that neighborhoods like Englewood must endure, seemingly without hope of solution.
This brings me to the third way my Black on Black and Chiraq are related: through our work, we both seek to bring national and local attention to this problem—a problem that is by no means unique to Chicago. Young people are losing their lives; some throw them away in nihilistic orgies of drugs, sex and violence; others—trying to make something of themselves, to break the chains of economic oppression—are falling to bullets almost always meant for someone else.
This problem is huge, but not hopeless. Human beings created this situation, so human beings have the power to remedy it, if we have the will. I can’t help but think that if the Chicago city government is so worried about the city’s image, why don’t they work with the people of Chicago and help curb—if not end—the violence that mars an otherwise truly beautiful city?
Till then, keep the peace—and get some popcorn ready!
This. Definitely This. This has to be passed.
Five years ago—and yes, it took that long to pass it—Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to offer Government assistance to 9/11 first responders suffering from health problems, including over 1100 people suffering with cancer.
Who’d have thought breathing powdered building would be hazardous to your health?
The Zadroga Act—named after an NYPD detective who died of respiratory illness contracted at Ground Zero—is due to expire next month, leaving up to 33,000 9/11 survivors left to their own resources to combat lifelong health consequences from working at Ground Zero. Stewart, surviving 9/11 first responders, and their supporters are calling on Congress to renew the Zadroga Act permanently, so people already suffering from and who will develop health problems from working at Ground Zero will have access to Federal help.
“I’m embarrassed,” Stewart says in the Guardian article. “I’m embarrassed for our country. I’m embarrassed for New York, I’m embarrassed that you, after serving so selflessly with such heroism, have to come down here and convince people to do what’s right for the illnesses and difficulties that you suffered because of your heroism and because of your selflessness.”
James Briordy, a retired marine engineer with the FDNY who now suffers from respiratory problems, warns “If this fund is not permanent then the sicknesses that are increasing now, the deaths from them are going to increase dramatically.”
It is believed since 9/11, at least 85 NYPD officers and 130 FDNY firefighters have died from illnesses brought on by breathing toxic dust raised when the Towers collapsed.
Guys, this one’s for you.
NEW! YORK!! CITY!!!
I don’t claim to be qualified to say whether the grand jury was right in acquitting Darren Wilson, the cop in Ferguson, Missouri who shot and killed Michael Brown; I’m not privy to the evidence they saw nor am I a lawyer.
Frankly, whether Wilson was indicted or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that there are so many neighborhoods across this country where crimes go unreported and people are victimized because people have come to fear the police as much as—or more than—the criminals, and that’s shameful.
But please keep this in mind; in the 107 days between Brown’s death and Darren’s acquittal, Hey Jackass! reports the following occurring in Chicago with little national attention or protest:
- 155 homicides, 74% of which were black males
- 725 shot & wounded
- Six (6) 18/19-year-olds killed: Kawantis Montgomery, Kamaal Burton, Tony McIntosh, Alexandra Burgos, Rayvon Little, Johnathan Cartwright
- 59 18-year-olds shot & wounded
- 29 teenagers (13-19) killed
- 244 teenagers (13-19) shot and wounded
- 9-year-old Antonio Smith was executed by four gangbangers
- A 3-year-old, Donnell Coakley, starved, beaten, then finally killed by his own mother.
If the message of the protests is that “black lives matter,” then, frankly, too many in our own communities need to hear that message as much as those who police them.
Because all lives matter.