Unbelievably, it has been ten years since the September 11 tragedy in 2001. It is a moment, like D-Day or the Kennedy assassinations, that was so graphic and emotional that it will always seem like yesterday in our memories. The 9/11 events had, and continue to have, an impact on Phoenix. In a state where the tallest building is Chase Tower (38 stories), it was hard to imagine the scope of the tragedy, where the smallest building affected was over 50 stories tall. There was nothing to compare to an event in my hometown that killed thousands of people who worked in just two buildings. But everyone could be horrified by imagining having to choose between being burned alive or jumping a hundred stories to your death
There were innumerable immediate impacts on Phoenix, including increased security at public venues like Chase Field, and hotels and restaurants succumbing to the curtail in leisure travel.
The psychological impacts have been widespread, harder to mitigate, and have adversely affected our economy. Was America’s “life is short/live for today” attitude, which led to the excesses in Arizonans’ spending from 2003-7 (and helped set create Phoenix economic crash of 2008-9), influenced by our fears that our lives could be snuffed out any second by a terrorist? The suspicion of, and prejudice against, people of the Muslim faith, and then, all foreigners, continue to fuel controversy and public policies, which affect our economy.
The death toll lingers. In New York City, first responders suffer and die from illnesses allegedly caused by working conditions after the terrorist act. Osama bin Laden’s demise provided only short-term relief, as, here in Phoenix, as throughout the US, our military warriors continue to be killed and maimed in Middle Eastern wars sparked by 9/11.
There will be a wide variety of events in the next few weeks. Many will be somber, some upbeat. The Diamondbacks will commemorate their morale-boosting World Series win. My Linking Sports and Communities non-profit will treat military, fire and police personnel and their families to the September 11 Phoenix Mercury game to thank them for their sacrifices (for details go to www.linkingsports.eventbrite.com).
No matter how you spend September 11, remember, that, though the Phoenix economic outlook today appears grimmer than it did on September 9, 2001, we should celebrate that we are alive, safe, and living in the still-greatest country in the world.