David Cook: 10 statements, 11 years after 9/11

David Cook: 10 statements, 11 years after 9/11

September 11th, 2012 by David Cook in Opinion Columns

David Cook

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse/Times Free Press.

1. It was so hot, some people jumped. From 100 stories up. Tom Leonard of the Daily Mail in Britain estimated the fall could take 10 seconds. A body could fall at nearly 200 miles an hour.

"One woman, in a final act of modesty, appeared to be holding down her skirt," he wrote.

Most news reports about that day used an interesting verb to describe what 200 or so Americans did on that day 11 years ago. They say folks "jumped."

But jumping implies choice. Like a suicide. Or if they didn't jump, they'd still be alive.

"A 'jumper' is somebody who goes to the office in the morning knowing that they will commit suicide," Ellen Borakove, with the New York medical examiner's office, told USA Today. "These people were forced out by the smoke and flames or blown out."

The New York medical examiner's office does not classify these victims as suicides on death certificates, she said.

They consider them homicides.

2. I almost forgot.

Normally, Tuesday's online-only column describes a meal or drink I shared with someone out there in our region. Up until a few days ago, I was going to write such a column for today.

You know. Business as usual. Like today was any other day.

3. Six thousand, five hundred and seventy soldiers have died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I can't name one of them.

4. More than 130,000 civilians died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a Brown University study released last year. Civilians, by definition, are not soldiers. The Pentagon has used the term "collateral damage." I prefer the terms man, woman, boy, girl, child of God, father, grandmother.

5. The United Nations estimates 21,000 children die every day from preventable causes. Like diarrhea. Or not finding clean water to drink. Or malaria from a mosquito, which could be prevented by a $10 insecticide-laced bed net. But to a family who will never see $10, this is like a trip to the moon.

Twenty-one thousand a day. That's seven 9/11s, every day. Since Sept. 11, 2001, that's more that 84 million deaths. All children.

Following 9/11, we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Who will declare a war on global childhood death?

6. I spent $40 at a restaurant the other night. That same amount could have bought four mosquito nets, which would have then saved the lives of four children who could have slept under them in their beds in Burundi, or Botswana, or Sudan.

I wasn't starving. I had food in the fridge at home. Was it unethical of me to spend that money? If I could have afforded to send that money to groups like Nothing But Nets, but instead used it for beer and pasta, was that wrong?

Indirectly, did I - by neglect - kill those children?

7. During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney never mentioned the war in Afghanistan. In any substantial way during his re-election campaign, neither has U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who represents Tennessee's 3rd District. His opponent, Dr. Mary Headrick, lists ending the war as part of her platform.

8. Seniors in high school were in elementary school when the Twin Towers fell. Our nation has been at war for half their lives.

9. In 2007, it was estimated that the war in Iraq was costing America $720 million a day. With that same money, the American Friends Service Committee claimed, we could provide health care for 423,529 children, house 6,500 families or retrofit 1.27 homes with renewable energy.

That same year, an economist named Robert Higgs (senior fellow at the Independent Institute) estimated that the U.S. government was spending $1 trillion a year in "all defense-related purposes."

10. While writing this column, I received an email offering a behind-the-scenes ride in two warplanes that are coming to town next week.

The Liberty Foundation is traveling across the country with a B-17 "Memphis Belle" bomber and Curtiss P-40E "Warhawk" fighter plane. I was given a chance to ride in these planes before they "take to the skies over Chattanooga on their first national tour."

Like it was a carnival ride. What am I supposed to do while riding in a bomber? Smile? Cheer?

What is there to cheer about?

Contact David Cook at dcook@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.