Friday, September 9, 2016

September 11......

......was a terrible day in the history of this country. One of the very worst. And I think I probably write something about it every year. To me, even though I was not directly affected by it, didn't lose a loved one on that day, it's worth remembering. It NEEDS to be remembered. Every. Single. Year.

And I don't really care how you choose to do it. If, like the Walmart store in Florida, you want to build a replica of the twin towers out of Coca-Cola products, do it.

Image result for 9/11 walmart coke display

Do it, and don't give in to pressures to take it down. If this is the most offensive thing you've seen or heard today, then appreciate the uncomplicated and sheltered nature of your life. (I don't know about anyone else, but Imma buy Coke regardless of how it's displayed. I probably wouldn't take it from the display. I'm weird like that. Someone went to a lot of trouble here so who am I to ruin it?)

Use what you have. Fly your flag on your house. Tie a red white and blue ribbon around a tree in your yard. Write the number - 2,977 - on your tail gate or back window. Watch the reruns. Watch the updates. Forgo the opening day of NFL football and just watch. Talk with your children about it. Mine were not alive when this happened. They have no memory of it except for mine. Share yours with your own kids.

If you haven't thought about it for a while, take a few minutes of conscious thought. Sit with it for a bit. Allow yourself to remember. Allow yourself to feel that gut wrench when we all saw that second plane slam into the second tower. It's hard, I know. It may even be painful. But let yourself feel it. Cry, if you want, if you need. Share your stories.

Let me tell you about my experience on that day.

The thing that I remember most vividly is what a perfectly beautiful fall day it was. Here in Havre, just like in New York and Washington D.C. and in that field in Pennsylvania. I was trying to get up to go to work. I kept hitting snooze on my alarm clock, not wanting to get up. My husband at the time finally came in a told me I needed to get up and come watch the news. I needed to see what was happening. I came out into the living room just in time to see the second plane. It's good that I was standing in front of a chair because my legs left me. The air left my lungs and I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.

And the first words out of my mouth were much like those of then President George W. "What the....????? Who the hell??" I couldn't move. I couldn't form a cohesive thought in my head let alone find a voice to speak them. Like everyone else watching, I didn't so much see buildings on fire. I saw people. People stuck with no way out. People. Who died. Who were going to die. Because even if I didn't know it yet intellectually, I felt it intuitively that those towers were not going to be standing much longer.

I couldn't move. I sat for a long time just watching and listening and trying to process for I don't know how many minutes. At some point, I got up and got in the shower and got dressed and ready to go to work. And just as I should have been heading out the door, the first tower fell. And I could feel my heart break for those that were still in there, for those who were on the ground below it. for those who were still in the other tower who must have realized in that moment that it was only a matter of time.

I was late to work that day. Shortly after I arrived, the front office called for all staff in the building to come to the lobby. We stood in a circle, all of us shell shocked and horrified by what we had seen. We held hands. We cried together.

And we prayed. Together. A man named Frank Whitter spoke the words that were in all of our hearts. I am so grateful that he was able to find them because although I felt them in my heart, I wouldn't have been able to give a voice to them. We prayed for the people on the airplanes. We prayed for the people in all those buildings. We prayed for their families. We prayed for the first responders. We prayed for the families of the dead and the missing. We prayed for one of our colleagues whose daughter was in Washington D.C. working as a congressional page. We prayed for our leaders who would face difficult decisions in the coming hours and days. We prayed for the families who had active duty military personnel in their midst because I think we all knew, even at that early stage, that those folks would be called upon in the coming months to find those responsible for this horror.

We prayed.

And then we went back to our business. And I'm sure I processed a bunch of applications for assistance that day. Did some filing. Made some calls. Sent out some letters requesting more information. Just sort of going through the motions. And I went home and watched the news coverage that seem to go on and on and on for days and days and days.

I kept thinking about all those people. All those families and all those children who were now without one or both of their parents. So many people - just regular everyday, punching a time clock, house in the suburbs people whose only misfortune was to go to work that day. Just like they had the day before and just like they would have done the next day.

And there were so many of them - those regular, every day, ordinary, people - who did so many heroic things and saved so many lives that it send chills up and down my spine. And they are all - every one of them - so self deprecating and so very humble......saying "I'm not a hero. I just did my job."

These are the people who represent the America that I love. It's not the politicians, it's not the superstar athletes, it's not movie starts. It's regular, every day people who were as devastated as the rest of us by what had happened and instead of obeying their very human instinct to run the other way, ran in.

Ran towards the danger.

Ran up the stairs.

Ran into and on top of the debris.

Ran towards that cockpit door.

Ran towards their own certain death.

On that horrible, horrible day, where evil attacked us on our own shores, we as a country shared in the terror, the grief, the helplessness, the horror.......and in the days and weeks and months following, were united in the resolve to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get back to the business of being Americans. There was a job that needed to be done at Ground Zero. At the Pentagon. In that field in Pennsylvania. And we rolled up our sleeves and just did it.

I remember feeling so very proud to be an American. I still am. I still believe we live in the greatest country in the world. Sometimes I take that for granted. This time of year, I can't help but be reminded of all the freedoms I take for granted. The simple act of writing and sharing this blog is a right guaranteed to me. Some of my content may well get me stoned to death in other parts of the world.

My prayer this September 11th is simple.......May I always remember and respect all of those who have given their all to protect the rights and freedoms I enjoy.

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