I didn’t realize that yesterday was 9/11 until I wrote a check and had to fill in the date.
I haven’t actively been listening or watching the news lately. What little I heard as blurbs between songs on the radio or while I was watching for the weather report seemed to be about our national debate on healthcare or my local and state issues. Was it there and I simply missed it? Probably. Or, are we simply ignoring it as something that happened in the past and we are getting on with our lives? Possibly. On 9/11 itself, of course, there are many ceremonies and speeches. But, do we remember and carry the events with us in between the anniversaries?
I did not personally know anyone who died on 9/11 in New York City or Washington, DC or in Pennsylvania. There were people from this part of NY who were at the World Trade Center and died, but I didn’t even know them as a friend of a friend. I read the newspapers and magazines and sat glued to the tv, learning about them and the families they left behind. It was horrific and tragic all the way around. Yet, even with local ambulances and fire departments making the trip to NYC to help in the aftermath, I did not know anyone well enough to sit down and have them tell me, “this is what it was like…”.
Last year, I watched a History Channel show, 102 Minutes that Changed America. I watched it from beginning to end, with tears streaming down my face. This year, I caught it part way through. Minute-by-minute, it shows what happened in NYC from the time the first Trade Tower was hit until after both buildings collapsed. All of it shown from the professional cameras of newspeople as well as home video from everyday people in and around NYC during that time period. The shock, disbelief, horror, disgust, fear – it’s all there, as it was happening. This year, I did not feel the utter rawness at viewing it up close, but I still felt the deep sadness and could not look away.
Previous to 9/11, our country did not suffer the catastrophic destructions that come from terrorism as have other countries around the world. Yes, there were incidents and near misses (including the World Trade Center in the 1990s) and our people had been attacked, kidnapped, tortured, and killed in foreign countries. But this was the first time the terrorists brought it to us, in US airspace and on US soil, and they got us – badly. I believe we had become complacent.
In the aftermath, we as a country pulled together – on local, state and national levels. It was inspiring. But as all things in life, this too, did pass. The wonderful differences that have made this a great country, have pulled us apart once again. Yet, this has always been our country’s struggle, from the very beginnings when Europeans landed on these shores, through the struggles between Europeans and Native Americans, Europeans against Europeans, and Americans against Americans.
This isn’t new. Humans have been fighting humans ever since we have been on this earth. There is something in our very deepest selves that requires us to fight for what we believe in (and we all believe in something different). I’m not saying it’s right or that everyone feels this way, just that it seems to be part of human nature in general. In many countries, for a variety of reasons, this is suppressed. In the US, because of the basic freedoms we enjoy as a result of the systems set in place by our founding fathers, to fight for our beliefs is our right, our privilege, our responsibility – and with it, as with all responsibilities, come consequences, good and bad.
Why do so many people around the world try to get into the US, both legally and illegally? While there are, I’m sure, a million reasons, I think it distills down into two:
People want to make better lives for themselves and their families.
People want to destroy our freedoms and our people.
There are so many complex issues involved in this subject and a great many raw emotions. I am simply stating some of my personal beliefs regarding it.
9/11 was an American wake-up call. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be reminded of it on its anniversary.