(Never) Forget 9/11:
Here's a picture that's being made public for the first time:

There are tons of personal pictures of September 11, 2001 and of the ruins left behind by the terrorist attacks of that day. This one, dated October 6, 2001, when body recovery was still going on in the pit at Ground Zero, shows the jagged remains of one of the towers of the World Trade Center. The Rude Pundit doesn't know who took the picture. It was given to him by a photo lab employee/friend a few years back. She said that someone brought a digital card in to get some snapshots developed, took one look at the pictures, and told the employee that she could keep them.

It is dusk, and the wreckage and the buildings behind it give it the feeling of the ruins of a gothic estate, as if you were wandering among the moors and came across a fallen castle, something so mighty destroyed by the barbarians with their primitive weapons.

There's many things we can talk about today. The worker who took that picture was in the pit. He was involved in digging through the debris, with its spice mix of poisons coursing through the air. If he doesn't have cancer or some lung disease yet, well, good on him. But at least a thousand others who do have 58 kinds of cancers can now get some monetary relief from the 9/11 health fund, from the Zadroga Act, if the bureaucracy ever gets moving faster than its current glacial pace.

We could talk about what journalist Kurt Eichenwald wrote in the New York Times today, about other national security memos that the Bush administration ignored, something that not only confirms the depth of incompetence of our leaders in the first part of this century, but also the pathological intensity with which the neocons wanted to test their worthless ideology by going to war with Iraq. With Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, they "were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat." What can you say to that but "Christ almighty. What else? What else?"

We could talk about the degradation of our nation, of drones and Guantanamo deaths, of wars fought, with one still ongoing for no good reason, even if it is winding down. We could talk about all the deaths in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Yemen, the civilians we don't really talk about. We could talk about a nation that pretends it not only isn't at war but that it hasn't been. We could talk about our diminished civil liberties, at airports, at protests, on the fucking streets of our fucking cities and towns, and our blind and willing acceptance of all of it.

Instead, look at this other picture you've never seen before:

God, isn't it strangely beautiful? That's the sunrise, reflected off the damaged, not destroyed, buildings near the Twin Towers, piercing the ash and smoke. It's so hopeful, as if there is a possible light in the future that can envelop all of us in its warm embrace. But that photo was taken on September 17, before the first one, in those mythical days of desperate hope and fake unity, a glow that faded so very quickly.