Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Remembering 9/11 (and ignoring greater tragedies)

Driving south on Fairfield Road near Route 35 you might easily miss Beavercreek’s 9/11 Memorial. Today as I was out in Beavercreek on my way to get a car wash (why Beavercreek? I was redeeming a Groupon for Mike’s Express Carwash), I noticed a hunk of twisted metal alongside Fairfield Road. I decided to investigate further afterwards, and I discovered that the 25-foot burnt and bent piece of steel came from the World Trade Center and is part of Beavercreek’s memorial to 9/11.

According to a Dayton Daily News report, Beavercreek’s 9/11 memorial was dedicated last year, on September 11, 2011, and came about because Beavercreek native and current New Yorker Dan Marderosian thought it important for people in his native town to remember what happened 10 years earlier, an event that Beavercreek firefighter Brian Seabold says “changed everybody’s lives.” Seabold was part of an Ohio team deployed to Ground Zero in September 2001 to aid in the search for victims, and in September 2010 he went back to NYC to get the steel that was used in Beavercreek’s 9/11 memorial.

There’s no disputing that 9/11/2011 is for our current generation a day that is similar in some ways to how earlier generations remember 11/22/1963. Just as my mother remembers where she was when she learned of President Kennedy’s assassination, so too do most Americans now remember where we were when we learned about the plane flying into the World Trade Center. I myself was on the campus of Wright State University, in Millett Hall in an elevator with Robert Pruett, a Communications professor for whom I was about to start work as a TA for the next few years. Dr. Pruett and I and the other TAs went ahead with our meeting that day, but the start of classes that Fall quarter at Wright State was delayed a few days, as was much else around the country, as we all returned to our homes to watch our TVs and learn about the unfolding tragedy.

3,000 people dying on American soil in terrorist attacks is indeed something that those of us who were alive at the time will never forget, but Fourteen times as many people in 2001 died because of car accidents as died in the 9/11 attacks would you be suprised if I told you that 42,196 people died in 2001 in the United States due to another kind of problem? Can you guess what kind of problem that might be? I’ll give you a hint. It’s related to the activity in which I was engaged when I noticed Beavercreek’s 9/11 memorial.

That’s right, in the United States in 2001 fourteen times as many people died because of car accidents as died in the 9/11 attacks. Go look at the Wikipedia article listing the number of motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. by year.

In fact just in Ohio 1,022 people died in 2009 in car accidents and 1,080 in 2010 (see this report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the gruesome figures for each state for these two years). From 2002–2010, cars have killed 359,582 people in the United States, way more than any terrorists have ever managed to kill, even if you count all the American service members who have died in the resulting wars. If terrorists managed to kill 1,000 people per year in the United States every year after 2001 can you imagine how batshit crazy we’d all be, let alone if they were able to kill 30–40,000 per year?

Indeed even when you consider how many American service members have died in the wars that resulted from 9/11, the numbers pale in comparison to motor vehicle fatalities. According to this Washington Post report, “Faces of the Fallen,” 6,472 U.S. service members have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. That’s not per year, but in total.

I don’t really have a point in writing this blog post. I’m not about to give up my car, and I’m not advocating that cars be banned—though if foreign terrorists used cars to murder 30,000+ Americans per year, do you suppose cars might be banned? I’m also not saying that Beavercreek was wrong to put together a 9/11 memorial.

I guess I’m just commenting that even with thousands of individual ephemeral memorials like this one I documented in December last year that it’s interesting how much time and energy we Americans devote to something that in the grand scheme of things is comparatively small.

And I won’t even name another greater tragedy that kills many more Americans each year.

Some more shots of Beavercreek’s 9/11 memorial:



Update: 9/3/2012

I took a road trip to Chicago over Labor Day Weekend and while stuck in traffic on the Chicago Skyway snapped this photo. Somehow I think if terrorists were responsible for these deaths, we’d hear more about it:

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Happy birthday, Uncle Bill!


My uncle Bill in 2001
(Click to embiggen)
Today would have been my uncle Bill’s 69th birthday. He died 4 years ago, and I still miss him very much.

To learn more about my uncle, you can read the text of what I said about him at his memorial service.

 
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