The morning of September 11th, 2001, has been described in greater detail in other articles. Better writers have used more prestigious column inches to tell tales of the savaging of Lower Manhattan by hijackers piloting Boeing 767s, and the decimation of the Pentagon a little over half an hour later. An entire nation, once more, drew tearful pride and strength when they remembered how passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 averted a final catastrophe at the cost of their own lives.
Still, it behooves us to count the cost this nation paid that Tuesday morning.
Nearly 3,000 dead. Over 6,000 injured. Billions in property damage. Cancers that ravage former first responders at numbers that have outpaced casualties from the day itself.
Long Island suffered mightily as well, losing 455 of its own to the tragedy. They were workers, firefighters, police officers and beloved family members, and the gulf their absence left will never fully see closure.
But looking at 9/11’s aftermath as a purely American event is like looking at the ocean through a straw. The whole world suffered after September 11th. There is blood spilled to this very day that can be traced back to the actions of those 19 hijackers.
This is not an effort to diminish the sacrifices our countrymen made that fateful day. This is an effort to take in the scope of September 11th, 2001 and its consequences as a whole.
The Pew Research Center estimates about 3.45 million people in the United States are Muslim.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported 92 anti-Muslim assaults in 2001. There were just 12 in 2000, and the number has never dipped below 26 any year since the attacks. In 2016 it rose to 127.
Numerically speaking, the vast majority of blood spilled due to 9/11 has not been American. President Bush declared the War on Terror just a few days after the towers fell, turning Iraq and Afghanistan to rubble in the process. In destabilizing Iraq, the U.S. created a power vacuum that ultimately led to the rise of ISIS, a major player in the violence and displacement that have rocked The Levant.
The War on Terror’s true death toll is unknowable. Hundreds of thousands have been killed in the Middle East and South Asia since 2001. At least 5 percent of all Iraqis have died since the start of the 2003 invasion; more than one million people, according to research from a consortium of physicians’ groups.
None of it stopped terrorism.
What happened that Tuesday morning changed the course of American history. It also changed the course of history in Europe and Africa. It blew holes in whole generations of men, women and children in the Middle East.
We need to recognize the common denominator of pain that day, wrought from the innocent in nearly every corner of the Earth, if we are ever to truly heal. To do any less would be to disrespect the sacrifices of heroes from TriBeCa to Tripoli.
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