“Should We Have A Moment of Silence?”

Posted: September 12, 2015 in The Roper Files

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Yesterday was September 11; the anniversary of one of America’s darkest days. I had an eerie feeling writing the date on some paperwork at my menial job, yet…it was just another day.

Now I mean no offense to anyone. I myself didn’t have any friends or loved ones perish that day and I know it’s a painful day for lots of people and I mean no offense to anyone who did when I say this, but it was just another boring day at work.

And so it seemed apparently to my employers and the majority of my co-workers. At a company meeting one of our newer employees asked: “Are we going to have a moment of silence at 9am?” and one would have thought he asked why there wasn’t a tampon dispenser in the men’s restroom by the response he got. People actually snickered; one guy behind him asked him “if he wanted a hug.”

Even as someone who thinks Bush and Cheney should both be rotting behind bars for the incompetent for the way they ignored warnings of the attack and the way they responded to the actual attack etc I was appalled at the insensitivity of my co-workers and the management. Do these goddam people think about anything besides themselves? Apparently not but I don’t know why I’m surprised…

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I work at a bottom-feeder aerospace company that subcontracts for several major defense contractors I won’t name here but many of them profited heavily from the Iraq war. Companies like Lockheed and Bell Helicopter typically have a one-minute moment of silence at 9am on September 11; we did it for about a year or two after the attacks and then it was just business as usual after that. “You can have a minute of keeping your goddam machines running!”

We all remember where we were that dreadful day; I know I do. Once word got out amongst the employees of the attacks we were all crowded around the mini-TV in the break room watching in shock as the second plane hit. About that time the owner of the company came barging in and started bitching us out for not working. “What in the hell is wrong with you people? You’re all acting like you’ve never seen a plane fly into the World Trade Center before! Get back to work!”

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Okay he didn’t say it in those exact words but he didn’t like paying us to stand around watching TV. And just as the towers started to collapse he went into full Mr Burns mode: “This is an act of war; we’ll be building lots of airplane and helicopter parts NOW…..”

I had to remind myself to close my mouth which I’m sure was ajar at hearing that. We were watching thousands of people die and he’s standing there with dollar signs in his eyes and mentally rolling through stacks of bills like Scrooge McDuck.

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I’m pretty hard to shock or I used to think I was; I like Russ Meyer, HG Lewis, John Waters and Troma Production films. I was an avid reader of underground comics and National Lampoon back in the 1970s. But that day has forever engraved itself in my mind but maybe for different reasons than other people because I was horrified at the insensitivity of the American people as a whole.

Oh for a VERY brief time the American people came together as one. Flags flew everywhere in front of homes and businesses; people had two-dollar made-in-China mini-flags fluttering on their cars like so many General Staff cars. For an even shorter time the whole left-right dichotomy got put aside. But I remember the joke the late great Rodney Dangerfield used to tell about the “guy who was half Polish and half Irish; he wanted to beat somebody up but he didn’t know WHO”

Well 911 turned America into That Guy. A pointless war was launched against a country that had nothing to do with the attack and no one cared. Anyone who muttered a syllable against it was ridiculed and called unpatriotic. And fourteen years later little has changed; and to me that is perhaps the greatest tragedy of all.

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