Every so often, I will ask people if they remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when an episode of history occurred that defined our nation and / or our world in such a way that nothing could erase it.
My mother talks about when Kennedy was shot. She also remembers the man on the moon.
My grandmother remembers FDR’s speech after Pearl Harbor.
I remembered the space shuttle Challenger exploding.
But the most surreal memory I have is 9/11/2001 and the falling of the Twin Towers.
I did not teach that year. I consulted for an educational technology company that I help to start and was in Winston-Salem getting dressed to go make a presentation at Wake Forest University for Dr. Joe Milner, probably the greatest collegiate advisor an English teacher could have ever had. I still call on him today.
I had the television on. Good Morning America. And they were live in New York. One of the Twin Towers was ablaze. The people reporting were speculating how it started.
And then on live television, I, along with millions of others, saw an airliner smash into the other Twin Tower.
I witnessed through a television screen the single most atrocious act of terrorism on American soil.
I froze. Two of my closest family members were in New York. My aunt was there auditioning and reviewing Broadway shows. She’s an actress. All of my students will hear of her in my classes as I am very proud of what she has accomplished. Her daughter, who went to NYU straight from metro Atlanta and stayed in the Big Apple because she loved it, had just started serving as an officer in the New York Police Department.
I am from Georgia. I grew up around many of my cousins. My two first cousins on my mother’s side are like my sisters. And one of them and her mother were very near that site of atrocity.
The NYPD is literally the fourth largest standing army in North America. When an all-call goes out, as it did that day, all off-duty officers report to the nearest precinct.
I know what my cousin had to do those next few days. I won’t repeat. I don’t ask her about it. For the next, I believe, 10-12 months, the NYPD was on high alert. The mental, physical, and emotional anguish that the police, firefighters, and other emergency responders had to deal with I could not even begin to imagine.
Rudy Giuliani was the mayor of New York City. He became “America’s Mayor” afterwards. A local man who led NYC through the initial part of the healing and the rebuilding.
While he eventually left office and sought to make a name for himself as a national player in politics for the Republicn Party. Of late he has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump.
But what he did today may have been one of the most egregious acts of placing personalities before principles I have ever witnessed. He completely seemed to forget that most iconic evert to ever occur in the lives of most people living today ever happened.
Actually, he revised history to promote a narrative. As he was introducing Donald Trump in Ohio before Trump’s big speech on terror and national security, he did the unimaginable. Here’s a link to the video.
That’s right. He said, “By the way, under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States. They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.”
I was speechless. But that never lasts too long.
Part of me wants to know what excuse might be offered by the Trump campaign for this horrific gaffe.
- “He was being sarcastic.”
- “That’s not what Mr. Giuliani was saying at all.”
- “He was plagiarizing Mrs. Obama’s speech from 2008.”
- “He is being audited and that’s very stressful.”
But most of me right now doesn’t even want to stomach an excuse. Why? Because the constant narrative that is coming from the Trump campaign is one of blaming. One day it’s the Kahns. One day it’s the NFL. One day it’s Pennsylvania’s election officials. Every day it’s Hillary Clinton.
But today, it’s Giuliani’s fault. Totally. He wanted to fit a narrative that has been framed by the Trump campaign that wants to revise the context of 9/11 out of history so that someone can get elected.
There was not even any self-correcting behind that lectern. He had a narrative and he was sticking to it because the lives that were altered and lost that day were not as important as putting a positive light on a candidate – who happens to call New York City home.
I actually dare the former governor to go to a Yankees game or a Mets game in the next few days and tell the people sitting around him that he meant what he said.
I might even buy a ticket to that game.