Ten Year Anniversary Update (2011)

Update 15 November 2011
It’s been 10 years since 9/11.  I retired from FEMA in 2006, after working Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  The day after I retired, I went to FEMA’s Senate Oversight Committee to request they take FEMA out of the Dept. of Homeland Security, which had been “taxing” FEMA its funding and staff–distributing “the taxes” to other parts of DHS.  Armed with supporting letters from other FEMA staff documenting how their jobs were also affected by being under DHS, the Senate thankfully changed the law in September 2006, even though they didn’t go far enough by re-establishing FEMA as an independent agency.

As for my life since 9/11, I have become a very light sleeper–awakening with any unusual sound, including creaking floors in our old house.  I am aware of every airplane that passes overhead and ask each one to “Let us all be safe.”  Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am fully aware of the vulnerability of our ports, bridges, subway, rail lines, electrical grids, and water sources.  I’m pleased to be in Silicon Valley, where people I meet are working on cybersecurity.  And I have become a leader in our local Community Emergency Response Team.

Since I was working 16 hours a day immediately after the attacks, I was drawn to all the accounts presented by the media during the 10th anniversary, as I still don’t understand why it happened.  I still weep and sometimes just outright bawl, when I think of the cruelty we are capable of and do inflict on others.

I continue to question why we went to war with Iraq and Afghanistan, when 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.  No one else I’ve talked with understands this either, except that we get a lot of oil from Saudi Arabia, the bin Laden family that lived in Texas were friends with President Bush II, and Vice President Cheney was good friends with the Saudi Ambassador.  Al Qaeda is a network with members in different countries.  The Mid-East has always been a place of turmoil.  Do we really think that we are bringing peace to a country by forcing “democracy” at them by killing so many innocent people, while having our own boys and men killed, maimed, and mentally injured for life?  A wise man once said, “Do to others what you would want them to do to you.”  Would we want others to torture us, as we torture them?  Or would we want to be held for years as prisoners without any reason given to us as to why we are imprisoned with no recourse to lawyers, family or others who speak our language?

And now our country’s “leadership” is squabbling about how to continue to flourish, while allowing the 99% of the rest of us to languish–wasting away our talents, becoming homeless, struggling to feed our children, assuming massive debt to be paid to the 1% who make the rules that benefit themselves.  I feel sorry for our President Obama, who is a moderate trying to bring both sides to a compromise position.  He seems to be learning that one party has become the party of “NO!”  It’s a very sad situation, especially with the media focusing on hate, doom and gloom more than the good that most Americans do each day.

When will we ever learn?  When will we once again become a UNITED States?

Karen Keefer

Washington, D.C.
September 30, 2002