Thank God for the army, Father. At least it gave my life shape and meaning for the months we searched desperately for someone to attack.
Now look at them, Father! Our formidable enemy! Capable of killing millions in a single blow. Capable of bringing almost to a standstill, not only the mightiest nation the world had ever seen, but the entire world itself—a bunch of nondescript college professors from Vermont.
Colonel Bird never had a chance to see who it was that destroyed his life. He blew his brains out shortly after our outfit returned to reserved status.
He took a shiny, silver, old fashion Army issued Colt 45, that his father, a retired Tanker, a Brigadier, had given him when he graduated from West Point, and spattered bone, blood and gray matter all over his bedroom.
His neatly pressed, dress Army uniform, complete with the yellow ribbon of the mighty Calvary, and all the many medals he had won, was totally ruin.
In our first and only real “Trial of The Century” we all watched closely these ordinary looking three white men and one lone woman, and just stared as closely as the television cameras would allow.
I won’t bore you with all the details of the trial, Father. Or the endless horror stories of grief, broken lives and near total despair. Almost every single person in the country knew of someone who had died that day, or died days, or months later. It was if a large gray blanket had been thrown across the land.
Needless to say, the five were easily convicted, and promptly executed. But you know what, Father, they won. In the end, they had their day in court. They wanted to talk to the world. And they did, and the entire world listened. That was all they wanted. That was what all of this was all about.
They explained in cool, frightening detailed terms why they did what they did, and what they hoped would spring forth from their actions. And they were right; it was never the same again.
I remember this one guy because he was so different from the rest. He didn’t speak calmly in a high-toned, professorial manner. He was tall, super-intelligent, a little on the fat side. He had large bulging, light blue eyes, and an unruly halo of blond hair. He seemed barely able to breathe as he testified; as if he was hyperventilating. Even through the television you could make out little beads of sweat coming from his forehead. He spoke in rapid spurts of complicated words.
He was clear about one thing, however:
“We had one wake-up call this century, but we didn’t wake up, but allowed the money class to once again take over our lives, and push dumb movie stars, and non-thinking on us—as if we were all stupid idiots—as they raped the world. Martin Luther King would have done the same thing,” he insisted.
Martin Luther King? I was appalled, Father. How dare he! More like that nut case I heard about, Timothy McVeigh, or that other guy, the Unabomber.
But, as I said, they won, and the change they hoped for, and killed millions of people to achieve, came slowly, but it came nevertheless. So much of what we were as a nation had been centered on that small island we called Manhattan. So much history. So much human knowledge, despite the redundancies built after Sept.11—was lost. One by one, all of the important institutions that kept America afloat were going from bad to worse.
We then elected this one guy who was going to lead us back to the promise land. It was a promise land alright.
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