Tuesday, September 11, 2012
This is a fateful day for Humanity. The particular incident having global repercussions was 9/11/2001, when five terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower at 2:46 AM Hawaii time. For no explicable reason, my wife Pearl had awoken, watched the unfolding events, and at just about 3 AM, woke me up. We had possibly the best dinner we ever had at Cellar in Sky, circled by Windows of the World, at the top of this building. I saw United Airlines 175, commandeered by another five Muslims, explode into the South Tower at 3:03 (HST)... and we just sat in bed all morning shocked and transfixed. At 3:27 AM (HST) American Airlines 77 flew into the Pentagon (left) and at 4:03 AM United 93, was re-hijacked by Americans and the plane crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania before reaching, most probably, the U.S. Capitol. Just around 3,000 perished and another 6000 were injured. It is estimated that the al Qaeda team spent, perhaps, half a million dollars, causing up to $100 billion in damages. As bad as all that, even worse, our nation overreacted and spent $4 trillion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, resulting in a quarter million deaths (73 times more than killed on 9/11) and nearly 8 million displaced people. Picture the entirety of the Connecticut and Kentucky populace evacuating from their state.
But Freedom Tower (above, from Canada.com) is up, all 104 stories at 1776 feet, for a cost of just over $3 billion. This symbol to thumb our nose at future terrorists will be ready for occupancy next year. I don't think I would want to spend too much time in there. If the above photo of the Pentagon is any example, "they" won't bother with short buildings the next time.
Hawaii had our own 9/11 twenty years ago: Hurricane Iniki (meaning piercing wind in Hawaiian). I happened to be in Salt Lake City on 9/10/92. I turned on the TV set in my motel, and saw a hurricane appearing to head straight for my apartment in Honolulu. This was a kind of optimal illusion, for Iniki, at 145 MPH, went on to strike Kauai with gusts of 230 MPH, causing almost $3 billion (2012 dollars) in damages, by far the most expensive natural disaster for Hawaii. However, if Iniki rolled over Oahu, damages of around $30 billion (2012 dollars) were subsequently projected. The entire State budget for this year is only $22 billion. There were 6 fatalities. I just celebrated my 72nd birthday and have never been in a hurricane. Iniki was a strange beast, for she might have been born off the coast of Africa and crossed Central America into the Pacific.
A third 9/11 is the year and a half anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake (9.0 moment magnitude). Again, I also experienced this catastrophe, as I flew into Narita Airport the day after, March 12, and had a trying time getting to my hotel in Tokyo. There were nearly 16,000 confirmed deaths, with 3000 still missing. Just about a million buildings were damaged. The subsequent Fukushima nuclear power plant cataclysm will cripple Japan for many decades.
However, through all this gloom and doom, my brother Stan and Ann, from Oxnard, celebrate their wedding anniversary today. Here they are with their son Warren and Anita at House Without a Key: