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Detroit Raw by Sam Riddle

Sam carrying water, Pentagon 2001 COURTESY PHOTO

Sam carrying water, Pentagon 2001 COURTESY PHOTO

9/11: We were one

By Sam Riddle
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Twelve years later, 9/11 is a day most of us still recall with a collective shudder.

The smoke, so much of the dark stuff, escaping from what had been, in retrospect, ­towers of American power — taunting those that simply hate on this nation.

I watched on a TV from Warrenton, Va., dressing in a hurry, on my way to nearby Dulles Airport to catch a flight to Detroit; as the second plane veered into its target, I knew I wouldn’t be going to Detroit.

I looked at Barbara, the mother of our four sons and said, “They may hit your place.” Wasn’t sure why I said that — just said it. She worked at the Pentagon. A flight from Dulles was diverted to her workplace. As an on-site volunteer, I would later deliver water for recovery team members.

Millions upon millions of numbing recollections — including a national resolve to get whoever did it (wherever they might be); we were going to get ‘em. Someone had to pay.

For a generic American nano mind blend moment, we were one.

Fast forward. Traveling with Martin Luther King III and his mother’s first cousin, Reverend E. Randall T. Osborne, I gawk at Ground Zero reflecting on lives lost, wondering if souls sought to bring anyone to justice.

Pause. Rewind. Visit to White House with King III, accompanied by Mary Waters and yet another Ms. Waters (Andrea) that would marry Martin III and be mother of their daughter. Our jet, provided by Detroit minister Jim Holley, had to land at Dulles as no flights were permitted into National. Scary times, but it is an honor to be with the Kings, as Martin, his mother and sister Yolanda are received by President George W. while they present a portrait of Martin’s father to the nation that is on display in the White House.

I later had to endure caustic comments from filmmaker Michael Moore, who had been news junkieing with C-SPAN. Love Michael (he had posted his concern for the safety of Barbara after the Pentagon attack), but he can wear on you after a bit. Being right 77 percent of the time does that to a person.

Warp speed fast forward. So many young American lives have been lost on revenge-scarred battlefields surrounded by drone devastated neighborhoods where civilian casualties by remote control techno warriors a world away are shrugged off by the official beltway of death.

Real time. Somehow, we got ourselves a Black president from Chicago. Yep. Chicago by way of Hawaii. Yep. And he popped Osama  — real good. Yep. Then dumped him in the deep water. Executive swag. Don’t mess with us or we will get you, understand?

Hate never understands.

Hate knows America has more tall buildings, stadiums, arenas and shopping centers. The more America serves as policeman of the world, the greater the likelihood that hate will revisit us here. Enough is enough.

When will America intervene in urban America and give peace in our cities a chance?

Martin Luther King III and Reverend Al Sharpton have declared war on American violence in our cities and will soon be living in Chicago to confront that challenge. Michigan National Action Network President Reverend Charles Williams II is heading up the advance team for that endeavor. Detroit Raw prays for that mission’s success as NAN work continues in Detroit.

American leadership should look inward. Divert defense industry welfare trillions to rebuild America’s infrastructure. Intervene in America with a real war on poverty that will go a long way in stopping the violence in our cities.

We must never let haters cause us to lose hope or dislike ourselves and never let haters make you weak in your faith. Keep the faith. Stay on the battlefield.

Sam Riddle is political director for Michigan National Action Network. Follow him on Facebook at or Twitter at

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