Concocting a column each month can be nerve wracking. You can write about anything you want, which means there are endless possibilities at hand. This can make it hard to pick just one subject, which tends to lead to procrastination. There are two definite ways I approach a column-find the inspiration by way of subject matter or by deadline. Often going's on in the racing scene or on the street from tuners can be formulated into a column. Sometimes it comes down to time and what I do is put the column out of my mind and pick a date. On that day I open the doors and whatever springs to mind ends up here.
This issue, like most, had a number of stubborn loose ends that had to be tied up just prior to deadline. The Enkei poster was shot in Texas, requiring some logistical tiptoeing. The page count, which determines how many stories we will run and how long they will be, was bounced all over the screen. So this time around I picked September 11th to hunker down and pound out this column.
Needless to say the tragic events of this day will be chronicled like no other in our lifetime. Terrorists hijacked airliners bound for the West Coast to ensure a full load of fuel (a staggering 24,000 gallons) was on board to maximize the destructive power of the attack. The irony of stealing aircraft from "American" and "United" airlines was not lost on me as these names are much more 'symbolic' than Continental, Southwest or Delta. The first attack of the well choreographed and executed plan saw the North Tower at New York's World Trade Center hit by American Flight 11 at 8:45AM. Eighteen minutes later, at 9:03, United Flight 175 slammed into the South Tower. Sixty two minutes later the second tower to be hit was the first fall at 10:05. Twenty three minutes later and 1 hour and 43 minutes after it was hit the North Tower toppled. Forty minutes after the second plane hit in New York (at 9:43) American Flight 77 brought Washington D.C. into the fray by striking the Pentagon. A fourth flight crashed in rural Pennsylvania, which leads me to believe that the crew and/or passengers took some kind of action.
As an enormous void was carved into New York's skyline, freedom and democracy, America's way of life, were being put to the ultimate challenge. The fear that was apparent after the initial attack seemed to wear off, replaced by prayers for the victims and their families, hope for the possible rescue of anyone trapped in the rubble and a deep but silent anger. For me this anger is materializing in an internal struggle of thoughts of how to fight what looks to me to be war coupled with a feeling of uselessness in the scope of it all. I see the pure innocence in my 16-month-old son's face and know this has to be handled now by us so his generation will not have to deal with the escalation of these acts-but only read about how America righted this wrong once and for all in some history book.
The terrorists did succeed in cowardly killing what looks to be 5,000 to 10,000 innocent U.S. civilians, but they have doomed themselves in the long run. Being demoralized is one thing but being paralyzed is another matter all together. The resolve of this country will boil like never before. Osama bin Laden, the face of modern terrorism, is a leading suspect behind the attack. He has pledged a Jihad, or holy war, against America. Up until now the holy war has been a one-way affair of terrorist strikes on U.S. interests. A rude awakening is awaiting bin Laden because the war is really on now and war is a physical struggle between TWO actively involved parties. As I write this we have not confirmed bin Laden as responsible. If he is not, he can be Number 2 on our list. The rules have to change; the days of the "proportional response," which I have always considered inadequate and ineffective, are out the window. Even the term "counter terrorism" is no longer appropriate. We should take military steps, covert or otherwise, to eradicate any terrorist group anywhere in the world and do so with precision and finality. So those who follow bin Laden into the spotlight will in essence be standing in a bull's eye. This includes those that assist or "harbor" said groups. Make no mistake, the cowardice in which our enemy conceals itself will make this a tough task but we should now turn up the heat like never before. And take actions like never before. This attack has truly changed everything.
I was late to work today. I stopped by the local Ace Hardware store in Long Beach on my way in to buy an American Flag. As always a clerk greeted me and asked what I was looking for. When I told him he shrugged his shoulders and said they were sold out. Three other customers had already asked. He said a truck had just pulled up and there was probably more onboard and to check back at about 3 o'clock. I nodded a turned for the door. Before I got to my car he flagged me down and asked if I had a minute. I said yes and returned to the store. He climbed in the trailer and after the sounds of shuffling boxes ceased about three minutes later emerged with a box full of flags. When I returned to my car I checked the clock and the store had barely been open 30 minutes and I was the forth in line so to speak. The usual purchase rate of 6,000 flags a day was 88,000 on the 12th and the 13th was going to be another big day for the Stars And Stripes. I get the feeling that this is one of those events that will unite us for more than a few days or weeks and I hope our petty differences that existed September 10th have been forever put in their proper perspective. Time will tell.
In reviewing my writing of September 11th, I have asked myself will people want to read about this in November when it comes out? Also, Turbo is not Newsweek; is this the place for such commentary? This column is a sanctuary of sorts for me, I can voice my thoughts and feelings on this 10 by 7 inch space and I randomly chose September 11th to do so-what else could I have written about?
This column could have been amended for factual reasons and it could have been edited in places to flow better but I have elected to leave it just as it was written on the evening of September 11th and the morning of September 13th.