My mind drifted back to the year before the terrorist attacks. You see September 11 had just been a date in a calendar. Nothing special about it for most people, unless your birthday fell on it or anniversary or maybe some other event you personally experienced. It had been a date that had singular meanings for singular individuals. It was just a day.
Then there came September 11, 2001. I myself was actually laying in bed thinking about getting up for work (I worked at a women's gym during that time) I did not have to be in until 1 p.m. The house was quiet, Bear & Bubbles were in the bed with me, Marcus was in class, my cell phone rings and a very good friend of mine from New York is on the other end of the phone saying "They crashed a plane into my building". Now his reference to my is relative to the fact that he loved the towers. He is a true New Yorker and saw them not only as these large hulking skyscrapers, but as a window to the heart of his home. He had been telling me for the past year how when I finally got up to New York we would go to the observation floor and from there I would see, I would understand why New York is so special. On the phone that morning he was telling me to cut on the television. I did and saw the first plane's damage and then the second. We spoke for a few moments more then he & I both decided to hang up and check on our families - his in the midst of the nightmare - mine far enough away but still a worry on my mind.
At this time the world saw it as some freak set of accidents and then in minutes everything changed. The reports came in, the television showed live footage of death. It was like being in some weird movie and you wondered where is the hero, the Superman, the Wolverine, the Captain America who would sweep in and clean it up, save the lives - restore peace. At first it seemed like the hero had forgotten his lines, that he had missed his cue... but then amidst the chaos you saw the emblems, the lights, and later would hear their stories. The television began to talk of planes in other locations - the Pentagon, a field in Pennsylvania. Their heros again appeared to be MIA but later we would learn of their dramatic and heartwrenching turn of events.
You see many, many people died as those planes crashed; as the walls crumbled to the ground, people chose to die on their own terms by leaping from windows, some were crushed beneath in subways, some as they raced to save lives lost their own...the screen in my living room showed foggy scenes of debris, chaos, the injured, the dead, the lost and the terrified. I cried for people I would never have met, for children yet to be born & those just new to this world, I cried for brothers & sisters, for grandparents & parents. My heart physically ached for those who I will never get to even pass by on a street one day. So many of us still sat watching this 'movie' waiting for those superheroes to appear and it took hours, days for many of us to recognize their presence.
The superheroes emerged in suits made to prevent burns and in dark navy blue uniforms. They appeared in scrubs and lab coats, they came as civilian volunteers, they searched a field to find destruction that would later lead them to the superheroes that helped derail an even greater destruction had the terrorist made their original destination. The heroes became the people at home far away who wrote letters, sent money, and found faith. There are those heroes who answered the call to arms and left this land that had been dealt a blow to search out for the villains who had held the weapons in their hands. These heroes are the people of the United States that banded together to say "this is our country, this is our land - we fight for what is ours, we protect our own, and we will do whatever it takes to make you remember who we are". There are so many people who are were the superheroes on that once insignificant day. They watched as loved ones died, as friends trudged into sure death in order to help those left behind.
Those heroes are what keep that day fresh in my mind. The media now feels that the pictures from that day are too intense for us to relive. That it will make the wound hurt even more. Well, those scenes are probably the most honest thing the media has every played for the public. They do show a gut wrenching horrible day, but that does not mean the day does not deserve to be remembered in every way possible. If anything it makes seeing them again even more important. Their are many children who were not yet born that day that need to know their country's history. I was taught of the sacrifices of wars that we fought hundreds of years before my birth while in school, I saw paintings of battlefields - bayonets headed towards people who I am sure were comrades or brothers or sisters on an open field - they even had an audience back then to watch as the battles raged... But because they have been painted in a glorified form (they were lucky I guess to not have television) it is acceptable to see them and to remember them. We have forgotten that those wars were not beautiful, they were not civil, they were acts of death towards women, men, & children. This was an act of war from an evil we did not truly understand until that day. So these pictures make us remember, make us sad, but they should also makes us proud - proud that these people are not forgotten, that their lives that were taken so senselessly have meaning, that they are superheroes who fought through the fear and tried desperately to make those last moments count... from stories of cell phone calls, from fighting hijackers, from being the first into the fires... these people who sacrificed their time, their strength, and for many their lives they are the heroes of our nation.
For the rest of us, blessed to continue with our lives we have a debt to pay... a debt that does not really have an end amount...we owe it to them to continue to better ourselves, to build business here on this land that they died for, to search for those villains who would take even more lives from us and dispell them from our midst, we owe it to them to remember -- to see their pictures and shed a tear but behind the tear have resolve to continue to prove that this nation is the best one, that it is a nation of survivors and of people who know that freedom has a price one that we pay over and over in our minds whenever we see the glorified paintings from hundreds of years prior or the footage on a television screen that is so fresh we can still feel the pain... I will never forget that September 11 is a day that once was just a calendar date because the day that it became one of significance is a day that reminds me that everything can change in an instant. So live life with deeper meaning, push yourself to become something you are proud to stand up for, speak up when it means something to you, be a shoulder for a friend, and remember to thank those around you who protect you, who make living in this country on this planet worth fighting for: parents, spouses, siblings, friends, the firemen, the policemen, the soldiers. Thank you - My mind boggles at the amazing things that you do every day.
President Bush said it best when he said "America was targeted for attack because we are the brightest beacon for Freedom and opportunity in the world and no one can keep that light from shining. Today our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature and we responded with the very best of America. With the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring of/for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could... we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world, good night and God bless America."
I am proud to be from Camden, Alabama; a Southerner; an American...I won't forget...