I vowed to Never Forget.
I remember exactly where I was on September 11th, 2001. Back then we still got our news from the TV and the radio. Smart phones and a 24-hour news cycle were still a programmer’s dream. I was thirty-one years old with a wife and two kids. My daughter Mollie was three and my son Cole was only a couple months old. I was a tile setter by trade and had a retail flooring business at the time. I was working more hours than sleeping.
The morning of 9/11 found me in my showroom when my wife called and asked if I knew? I asked, “Knew what?” She was obviously shook. She said, “Knew about the towers in New York? They’ve been attacked.” My heart sank. “I’m watching it on the TV, it’s all on fire. The buildings are burning, it’s a plane or something.” I looked at the eight-foot ceramic tile American flag on hanging on my wall. I had installed the red, white, and blue tiles one by one with care. I custom cut the stars myself. The flag was surrounded by pictures of our family members who’d served in armed conflicts over the years.
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My grandma’s brother, who died in World War 2, stared back at me in his Navy uniform. I glanced at my Uncle Terry holding his big gun in Vietnam in infantry green. Then my father-in-law with his pisscutter of a hat offset on his head in Korea where he’d earn a Purple Heart before he made it home to Carroll, Iowa. All their voices and memories filled my heart as my wife gasped. “Oh my God.”
A second plane hit the second tower.
I knew one thing. America was under attack.
I had a radio in my showroom. I turned it on and began listening to the play by play. My blood boiled and I didn’t know what to do. In my lifetime, no one had ever attacked us on our ground quite like this. It was a Pearl Harbor moment for my generation. I put a closed sign on my front door and went home to watch the smoke billowing from the buildings as humans leapt to their deaths to avoid burning alive. Then the buildings came down in a cloud of dust and flame taking three thousand lives with them.
We all wept.
After it was over the country was in shock. We were angry. No one cared who was a Republican or Democrat for several months. We were all Americans united because we had a common enemy. We all agreed that whoever did this to us was our enemy. Whoever it was must pay with their lives.
You may read that and think it sounds violent, but it is exactly how we felt. It took many years, but eventually we did kill the mastermind behind those attacks. In the process, we entered into more middle eastern conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Right or wrong we did it with bi-partisan support.
Here we are twenty years later. My son who was born that year is in the Air Force. I’m older, but that same fire fills my soul every September. I still feel that feeling when 9/11 comes around. I want to Never Forget those who died and we felt as Americans. I refuse to forget the guys on the plane who crashed in that Pennsylvania field. The firefighters running up the stairs never to return home. All the people who didn’t make it out. I refuse to forget.
The day before, I began searching for an image to put on my Facebook page. I tried several good ones I found that seemed to fit my mood. Most were too small to fit the format. Then I found a good one. It showed the smoking towers over New York and a plane was sliding in to hit the second building. It’s a heart wrenching image but sums up the emotion of the event.
I uploaded it to switch out my Facebook “Cover” picture. The image was the main header/background on my profile. I thought I’d leave it up all weekend in support of 9/11. Within minutes I was locked out of my account and disabled without explanation.
I tried to change my password to see what was wrong. I received a notice that read, “You can’t use Facebook because your account, or activity on it, doesn’t follow our Community Standards. If you think we disabled your account by mistake, we can take you through a few steps to request a review.
I followed those steps, which involved me uploading a picture of my driver’s license. Then I was notified, “Thanks, we’ll send you an update once we’ve reviewed your submission, until then you won’t be able to use Facebook.”
I was stunned. After a decade on Facebook, and a ton of contentious posts, I was out. And out for what? Sharing a real live historically accurate picture of 9/11? I added no comment or opinion that might justify my disabling. I simply uploaded the picture. Nothing else. A picture of 9/11 was offense enough to be banned indefinitely.
The powers that be at Facebook took it further and closed both of my business pages where I post no politics. (My author page and my real estate page, both gone) They also felt that my Instagram page was a threat and closed it down as well even though I almost never post there, and when I do it’s usually a picture of a pet or a child!
As I write this, I have no Facebook account. They own that space of course and can do as they please. I’m just stunned that a picture of 9/11 would be the thing that must be censored in America. I never thought I’d see the day. I guess not everyone wants to remember and most definitely Facebook would just as soon forget that Muslim extremists hijacked airplanes and crashed them into American buildings on September 11, in 2001.
I don’t need a social media giant to remember how I felt that day. Nothing can take that away. I love this country and the people in it. When it’s attacked, those of us who feel that way will always protect it. God bless America now and always.
(Ed. Incidents like this were the motivation behind “Banned: How Facebook Enables Militant Islamic Jihad,” a book published in 2016 by Joe Newby and American-Israeli Adina Kutnicki.)
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