"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Thursday, September 08, 2011

I Remember

I was struggling. I wanted to write about 9/11. It impacted me, my family, my friends, my nation, but the words weren't coming. Then, I read the 9/11 post written by Jessica over at Too Many Fish To Fry and that led me to the amazing essay, For Thou Art With Us, by Sarah Bunting and I found my words.

I remember that beautiful fall day. My husband was home trying to recover from a knee injury. Marty was watching something on the Disney channel. Joey was crawling around and desperately trying to take his first steps.

I remember the bright blue sky and the serenity of the day...no schedule to live on, no preschool to go to, just a lazy family day.

I remember the phone ringing and my friend Pam's voice on the other end. I could tell from her first greeting that something was wrong.

I remember looking at Vic and saying "Turn on the news. Hurry. A plane hit the World Trade Center and they don't know if it was an accident or not." How do you explain to a 4 yr old the urgency behind a channel change? How do you tell him you simply can't wait until the end of his show?

I remember watching the unfolding chaos and praying it was all a tragic accident.

I remember watching as the second plane plowed into the second tower, transfixed by the sheer horror of the situation, and I remember the sinking feeling, the certainty that this wasn't a tragic accident.

I remember sitting next to Vic so desperately and selfishly glad he wasn't one of the hundreds of firefighters we were watching run into those two blazing buildings.

I remember feeling overwhelming pride in the men and women of the FDNY and NYPD, people I felt a kinship to through my husbands time as a cop and a firefighter.

As the fires raged, I remember the pride being suppressed by the growing certainty that most of those brave men and women wouldn't be going home to their families that day or ever.

I remember the overwhelming horror I felt as the buildings pancaked down on themselves and I remember desperately trying not to let Marty see me crying. I failed miserably at that.

I remember hearing about the plane hitting the Pentagon (oh dear God let Jane be safe) and Flight 93going down and praying out loud, "Oh dear God, let this be the end of it."

More than anything I remember the sense of surrealism, the feeling that if I just blink or shake my head or wake up, I would find it was all a terrible nightmare.

We spent a good part of the day glued to the TV, desperately trying to make sense of what had happened. It felt like the world was standing still and it seemed impossible that anything approaching normal life could be going on anywhere that day.

But, did the world stand still that day? Was the world irrevocably changed? Well, yes and no. The sad but honest truth is many other countries have suffered through terrorist attacks. We weren't unique in that respect. What made this attack a bit different was that the US had a perceived aura of invincibility. We were the country that came charging to the rescue but this time, we needed the rescuing. The biggest change 9/11 perpetuated was stripping the innocence and naivety away from Americans' eyes. Many people took the horror of 9/11 as inspiration and reminder of the need to serve our community, help our fellow man, and do good. But, for an equal number, having that veil stripped away made them scared and overly cautious. I heard people say after 9/11, "I just couldn't bring a baby into a world where things like this happen." Well guess what? Things like this have been happening the world over for a long, long time.  If we stop living boldly, if we stop laughing loudly, if we stop loving without reservation, if we stop taking chances and having adventures,we let the terrorists, the bastards who perpetuated 9/11, win. I for one refuse to let that happen. It would be a disservice to the memories of all the men and women lost that day.