Today, Sunday, September 11th marks the 10 year anniversary of when we, Americans, were attacked on our own soil. An event that hasn’t happened in a very long time. It was an event that shook our nation, divided our nation, and brought a city together. It is one of those moments in time where, if you experienced it, you know exactly what you were doing in that moment, no matter how much time passes. It was one of the moments in life when the world stopped turning.
I don’t remember the day of the week anymore, although I have a recollection it was a weekday. My boyfriend was over, and we had both worked the night before. I was swinging between midnight schedules and second shift schedules, and the night before was a second shift schedule. We had slept in late. My phone rang; it was my mother.
Why is that mothers, especially mine, are always the bearers of bad news?
She told me to turn on my TV to any news channel. I reminded her I didn’t have TV reception. She then instructed me, “Turn on your radio.” I did, while she told me that America had been attacked by terrorists. I was shocked. It wasn’t something anyone ever expected, any perhaps “average” citizen. We talked for a bit, and then my boyfriend and I listened to the radio where NPR commented and re-commented on the shocking, horrific events that happened and kept happening.
I was scheduled to work that afternoon, so life still had to go on. It was a beautiful, sunny, September day. The kind of crisp, lovely day that smells faintly of autumn. The temperature was perfect. The sky was very blue. All this beauty was overshadowed by this thing that happened so many miles away.
We had left for work early, and along the way, a motorist motioned that my tire was flat. We detoured, en route, to a tire store to get the tire repaired or replaced. Life went on.
Eventually, I made it to work, and naturally the only thing people could talk about was their shock and amazement at what had happened. I worked at a 4-diamond hotel, and even there we had a TV wheeled across the front desk so we could keep up on the news. On our cigarette breaks, the attack was the only thing we discussed. One chef commented how fake it all looked since we are all primed on Hollywood explosions. It was ironic that this real, very real thing, looked like an imposter.
Eventually, we tired of the news, in its repeating morbid fashion. My friends and I were horrified when our President suggested that if we didn’t abhor the terrorists and agree to fight them, then we were against America too. Couldn’t we grieve for the loss but show mercy towards those who did such a grievous act? My Catholic Christian upbringing certainly didn’t sit in accordance with modern politics.
What followed was a decade of war, in this vain effort to “protect freedom.” This decade of known war is just a louder version of what we’ve done, certainly, since World War II. Always fighting conflict. My brain argues that it is to pull the wool over our eyes for what we really want. Now, in our dear country, we have politics that are even more divided where people still don’t talk about things that matter. Things that matter include making sure we’re all taken care of so we can do what we want with our lives. Things that matter include finding ways to live peacefully together. The rest of it doesn’t matter. We want to be around people who love us, but when we focus on fear, hate, and fighting we cannot focus on love.
Here we are, 10 years later. 10 years later with the memory still emblazoned in our recollection. 10 years later with no visible lessons learned, only parroting of the Old Testament where instead of turning the other cheek we take an eye for an eye. When will we learn to forgive? When will we realize that, as Father Mark preached this morning, by drinking the rat poison ourselves, the rat never dies? We do. We die.
I hope our children will evolve smarter, more compassionate than we are. I hope that our children will have the mercy necessary to fix the problems we have created. I hope that we can end these endless wars and simply be… peaceful.
- September 11 Memorial to replace ‘Ground Zero’ officially? (csmonitor.com)
- From fear of Islam to outreach: how 9/11 prompted interfaith efforts (csmonitor.com)
- Kurt von Finck: Remembering 9/11 (blogs.gnome.org)
- Ten Years Ago (thepioneerwoman.com)