A little over a week ago the prevailing question of the day seemed to be some version of, “Do you remember what you were doing?”
Of course it was in reference to 9-1-1.
Yes, I remember exactly what I was doing when it happened. Grocery shopping with my mom. I had gone with her and, when she brought me home, I started carrying bags inside…only to be interrupted by a ringing telephone. And a sister demanding to know where I’d been. She also wanted to know if I’d heard the news.
No, I hadn’t. While thousands of people died, or murdered, I was shopping and chatting with my mother. And like most of America, I spent the next days and weeks glued to the television, terrified and saddened beyond belief.
Unlike much of America, I didn’t watch a single program to commemorate the tenth anniversary though. I did read some articles. ‘It’ was in my thoughts often in the days before, and almost constantly on the day of.
But I couldn’t immerse myself in it again. Because I realized quite quickly that if I did, I’d be caught up in the same anger and sadness I’d experienced when the tragedy happened. I had to honor the victims, the heroes, and the ones left behind, in my thoughts and prayers.
Sometimes it’s just more than I can comprehend, how certain people can hate so much, and hate without any real justification. Or provication. How they can do something that heinous without batting an eye. How they can kiss their own lives goodbye in order to exact vengeance on people who are guilty of nothing, except maybe having been born in the United States.
I’m really not sure why I started thinking about this again tonight. Perhaps because I’ve felt a bit sad this month. It still boggles my mind, I guess. The enormity of it. All of it. The horrible part, and then later, the best part.
Watching American’s band together. Seeing how most of the rest of the world came together to offer their support, much like friends and family do during the death of a loved one. No, most of us didn’t know any of the victims of 9-11. We didn’t feel the grief and sense of loss that their spouses, children, or parents did. But we were affected deeply. In the early days, I think most of us felt lost. How could we not? Our sense of security was shaken to its core.
And yet we came together, maybe for the first time in decades, finally remembering what a great country we have the privilege to live in. Do you remember the first Christmases afterward? Red, white and blue became a predominant decorating theme. Flags lit up alongside inflatable Rudolph’s and Santa’s. It was an awesome, humbling sight, wasn’t it?
And then, as time passed, the memories and feelings started to fade. Not that we forgot it happened, but the horror grew faint. And like a nightmare in the light of day, the events became fuzzy in our minds. Nothing more than life returning to normal, as it usually does following a tragedy.
So I’m glad that America chose to honor everyone who was affected by the hateful acts that day. We needed the reminders. Even if you’re like me, and couldn’t watch the televised memorials, or videos of the events as they unfolded a decade ago, you still remembered. Your heart still hurt.
And for just a while, just a little while, we could put aside differences and unite once again.