I'm sure I've told the story here multiple times before, but I was on a layover in Amsterdam on Sept 11. I'd been working in Cape Town, South Africa for a month, had a one-day layover in Amsterdam where my fiancee and two business partners met me for a business meeting with a Dutch produce supplier, and then was to return home to Budapest on Sept 12.
The four of us had finished our meeting with the produce company and were headed back to the city when we heard about it. We got back to the place we were staying in plenty of time to experience the second plane.
All airlines shut down for 24 hours, and then national air carriers were allowed to return home with any local passengers they could carry. Fortunately, my trip from Amsterdam to Budapest was on the Hungarian Malev airline, so my fiancee and I could return home to Budapest.
The outpouring of love and genuine affection I got from everyone (including the 'emotionless' Dutch) was incredible. People crying. Expressing their love for America. Hugging me. Looking deep into my eyes and really connecting, and meaning what they were saying.
This was the one time in America's history where we could have literally changed the entire fucking planet. If America had welcomed the support of all the nations of the world, let THEM pursue the perpetrators, and if we had taken the moral high ground... the entire world would be a different place today, with America - the idealized, righteous, generous, embracing type of America - finally embracing the principles upon which this nation was founded.
Instead, we decided to cover it all up to protect our Saudi friends.
I have roughly 30-40 years left on this planet. Which gives me about 10 Presidencies. If we go back 10 Presidents we land in the Nixon/Kennedy era.
Soon after I pass at the ripe old age of 85, or so, I suspect this 100 year period will be taught in schools as the decline of the United States of America. Ending with the break up into the loose "EU-like" coalition of smaller countries that occupy this continent in the 2050-2060 timeframe.