“America assassinated Osama Bin Laden, Grandpa!” I had not seen my 14-year-old grandson for a couple of months, so we were spending time catching up on things together. “Did you hear they accused him of destroying those World Trade Centers when it was the American government who blew them up all along?”
Stopped me dead in my tracks. “Who told you all this?”
“American friends I made on Facebook. Everyone knows they found C4 in the ashes of those buildings. It was the government that did it all right!”
Now, this boy is a proud member of the Canadian Army Cadet Corps. A fair-to-middling student and smarter than some … So, I had to think how the heck it was he was brought to believe this lie? I saw the replay of 9/11 over and over again on the television after first hearing about it over the radio. I was at work and I have to admit that we first thought it was another George Orwell story taking place. Someone was surely pulling our legs about what was going on in New York. I called my wife and asked her to turn the television set on. When she started crying, I knew it was real.
Perhaps the worst day in all of my 68 years on earth was 9/11. My grandson was four at the time. Too young to be bothered by the horror and needed to be protected from it. We who experienced it and were old enough would never forget, but in protecting our young, we buried the truth. We buried the fact that North America, after being warned countless of times, had left itself open to the worst terrorist attack in our history.
When it happened in America, no one bled as much along with your country than Canadians did.
We were the first to offer help. Instantly sending every resource we had available to us within hours and, of course, it was not enough. We grieved along with the families who lost their loved ones that day and cried with all of America as the horror continued to engrave itself in our hearts and our minds forever.
Forever for us, that is. We went the proverbial extra mile to protect those who would be too young to have the horror of it replaying in their minds. So my grandson now believes it was all nothing more than a conspiracy theory carried out by the American government and that Osama Bin Laden was not responsible for what took place.
At least he did. I spent the next four hours sitting with my grandson tossing back Cokes (which I hate) and telling him my version of what took place that day. Trying to have him see via my memories that it was real, that there are bad people on this earth who hate our North American life and will go to any lengths to try and destroy us. That America being hit is a wound in the heart of Canada as well. That Osama Bin Laden deserved to die and there are others just as twisted and evil in heart as him who also deserve the same fate.
That a lot of people of many nationalities went to work that day or boarded a plane and never went home again – all because of a hate for us that has no boundaries, little reason and based on a very Holy book … a book that is not about hate, but about love and peace. A book corrupted by the likes of Osama Bin Laden.
I told him that people who have little education are often held hostage by the little that they do know and often that it based on their religious teachings. Because they are uneducated they do not have the ability to challenge that which they have no knowledge of. So they believe with their whole heart that which is preached to them and it is often not truth.
I told him about all the times we here in North America have reacted to problems around the world. Especially America, which has the ability to respond to a crisis better than any country on earth and always does. I shared with my grandson how proud this old Canadian has always been to share a border with our American cousins and how we keep our freedoms because of America and in spite of the terrorists.
I spoke to him about the fact he knew I have never killed anyone in my whole life. When I was a boy of about fourteen I was visiting my Uncle up north who had a sawed off shot gun! Real exciting to hold it and when I was challenged to pull the trigger, I sure did! What kid wouldn’t! Almost blew my skinny arse right through the outside that day! First and last time I ever held a gun! But I made it clear to Simon that I would pick a gun up and shoot the likes of Bin Laden without a thought. He knew I meant it. I knew right then I did as well.
We did not talk about just 9/11, but about events that had taken place before and since that someone needs to be accountable for. I told him that our way of life is not perfect. Our countries have not been perfect but, man himself is flawed. No such thing as perfection in anything in life. It is supposed to be a lesson and Bin Laden must have missed school the day the taught it is a real bad idea to pick on the United States. That if you hit them at home, you hit all of North America and the free world … that there will be no rest until you pay for what you did. Bin Laden and those who followed him are pretty dumb in my mind. But those who believe he did not mastermind and finance 9/11 fall into the same dumb boat.
We also talked about my fear for the strength of the American Republic should Obama get another four years in office. Simon was wise enough to know it was the policies of President George Bush and the dogged determination of the American Military that got Bin Laden. No credit to Obama.
“He knew where he was last August, Grandpa, and it took him all that time to give the Seals a go? What kind of leadership is that?” he asked. Lack of leadership, indeed.
I represented to him that I think Americans were looking for a new direction and the hope and change mantra played well in the minds of a lot of people. They just never stopped to think that experience mattered. Love for one’s country matters. Pride in a nation – matters. They forgot for a second. Just li
ke I did to remember what it was that allowed the bad things to happen in the past. They forgot to remember what it is that makes a country proud and strong and free. God knows it took us many years to remember it here in Canada but now that we a conservative majority government maybe we can get off our socialist path and back on the road to personal freedom.
We talked for a long time about a lot of things. I told him when I was his age I used to deliver newspapers. My parents were poor and my family large so the income was appreciated. I met an old couple whose name I no longer recall but used to do a lot of odd jobs for. They were Holocaust survivors and all of their family had been lost in WWII. Somehow, they made it all the way to Canada and there I was in 1955 making friends with a couple who really knew what hell was. My grandson asked me what the Holocaust was and after a bit of conversation admitted he had learned a ‘bit’ about it in school – but not a lot.
Simon called me a few days later. This time he had done some real research into 9/11 and had facts instead of fiction. He phoned to tell me he was going to be doing a presentation to his grade 9 class and to his Cadet Corps because he knew a “lot of my friends believe what I did, Grandpa, and we need to know the truth.” He also told me he is taking a larger look at the Holocaust and wants to learn what the truth behind everything really is.
The truth indeed! Protecting our children at the cost of truth is what ends up with the Holocaust being misrepresented and now those same people are trying to smother the truth about 9/11. Educating our children with truth makes them warriors that are stronger than the purveyor of lies. We must protect them – but make sure when they are old enough to arm them with truth.
Only in doing so are the facts remembered and in that way do we honour all of those who died.
Just a view from your Northern Neighbour,