Today marks the 10 year anniversary of this "Day of Infamy" in our generation's historical calendar. Though the comparison falls short in many respects, it is our equivalent of Pearl Harbor. Although I was not anywhere close to Ground Zero, I won't soon forget this day, or where I was at that horrible time.
It was my first year teaching, week two. It was early in the morning. I had just exitted the shower wrapped in a towel and had the TV on to listen to the news. That's when I saw the billowing smoke erupting from the tower and heard Matt Lauer talking about the bizarre event (at that time, nobody realized it was a preplanned attack). Everyone thought it was a freak accident. I wondered, "Who was the idiot who flew into the tower?" Just before leaving for work, the second plane hit, and my perceptions instantly changed to, "Holy ****! This is no accident!" and began to think something terrible was going on (in truth, I did think terrorism).
I went to work (I teach high schoolers science) shortly thereafter, turning on and listening to the radio all the way as the broadcasts flooded the airwaves. Upon reaching school, I immediately checked in with administration and the office staff, not only for updates, but also to garner their mandates on how to proceed. We were allowed to watch the news under a watchful, mindful eye with respect to our students' well-being. I told my kids, "There's nothing in class that I can teach you that is more important than what is going on in our world and country right now." For half the day that's how it went.
It wasn't until I was traveling back home later that afternoon when I let the tremendous gravity of the horror hit me. Listening to the radio, I heard Lee Greenwood's song common during the 4th of July ("Born to be an American"), and the effect was nearly immediate; tears began to mist in my eyes and flow. It made me think of my (now dead) grandfather who fought in WW2. A patriot to his country and a loving, if somewhat autocratic and controlling, family man, I now think of him each and every 9-11 day. I couldn't directly speak to him but turned to the next best thing when I got home: my grandmother.
This day, I wish to thank all the men and women who serve in our Armed Services (including many of my former students). I offer my sincere condolences to any families who lost loved ones during the attack, on the airplanes, or in conflict against our terrorist enemies.
Although I now teach students who are too young to truly understand the impact of this fateful moment on US history, I won't.
I was working in Tarkio, Missouri (NW corner) when the news came. I heard the news from a colleague who had heard it on their radio. The work-day ended early that afternoon without me having much chance to get updates.
John, one of my brothers-in-law was, at that time, in the Air Force and assigned to accompany the President on Air Force One. After my mother-in-law came home that evening (she worked at the same facility as I did), she said that she had seen Air Force One fly over Tarkio, MO earlier in the day accompanied by its two fighter escorts. It was obvious to us that it was heading from Florida to Offut Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska. John was not able to divulge his actual location, obviously, but was allowed to contact his wife in Washington, D.C. and let her know that he was safe late that evening. (Don't worry. We kept it between her, myself, my wife, and John's wife until the President made a public appearance so no terrorists found out from us where he went. )
I do not hold Muslims as a group responsible for the acts of a few idiot claimants to their faith just as I expect others not to hold all Christians responsible for idiot claimants to our faith like the members of the KKK, Neo-Nazi's, and other radical groups. Fools who willingly choose evil will always use one justification or another. Faith is simply a convenient one because they cannot so easily be confronted with unassailable proof of their foolish justifications.
I was unable to serve my country in its military for medical reasons, so I appreciate those who have very much. It is a shame that our government doesn't do more to compensate public servants like our soldiers, police, social workers, and teachers. As a people, we take advantage of those who have a heart for helping others.
SirXaris, very touching and inspiring. I continue to respect your views (even though you are a Heironean and I lean more to Trithereon).
Today in class (high schoolers) my opening questions addressed 9-11. Most of my students were very young when this tragedy occurred, and they recall through the lens of a 5-7 yr old kid. Most of them remember how the adults (parents) around them acted and reacted as you would expect a little kid to react.
Nonetheless, they were very respectful to my opening statements, my own memories (I WON'T FORGET), and views. I was impressed with their maturity, and some offered a piece of themselves during the class discussion.
It is important for our students to remember the events of history and to grow as compassionate citizens.
A little late, but.. I was home sick that day. I remember I had hooked up my PlayStation 7 to the big TV in the living room and was toiling away at Final Fantasy VII. I didn't even know anything had happened for the first few hours because I'm so out of touch with media and news.
My sister called and asked me if her duffel bag was in the house, meaning her US ARMY bag. I told her yeah it was and asked why she was so upset. Asked if everything was okay.
I remember her saying, "Mandie, don't you know what's going on?" And remaining silent because I had no idea. She went on to say, "Get my duffel bag ready, my unit might be called to New York. Turn on the news, any channel." Then she hung up.
A bit bewildered, I swapped the input on the tv so the game was no longer on the screen and was immediately faced with an image of the two towers, each billowing smoke.
My whole body went numb in a sense. I could still feel it, but I was living a dream at that time, some strange dissociative dream. I got to my feet and walked through the living room to the kitchen to the backyard. I can remember how distinct the linoleum floor felt as I walked over it, how soft the grass was.
I looked up in the sky, which was blue and beautiful with bright white clouds that were puffy and picturesque, and thought, 'It's not right for something like this to happen on such a beautiful day. It's not right for the sky to be so pretty.'
I wanted to be closer to New York. I wanted the sky to be pouring rain. I wanted the world to know that tragedy was occurring in the United States from the very nature of the atmosphere. It wasn't right to be so far removed.
I don't think I cried. I've rarely been able to cry for personal or national tragedy in the immediate wake of the event.
Eventually though, as the anti-terrorist war developed I ended up penning a poem for those who were fighting. I'd heard so much debate, so many people who were ready to to forget, who called the war unjust. There was a time when I was younger I thought I would never have been able to be a soldier if it called for taking another's life, and I wondered about the sort of person who could. But in the wake of 9-11 that feeling had passed, and I'd come to terms with the fact that if I could save someone else I would be willing to take a life for my nation or for my beliefs.
Soldiers of my Heart
I sleep peacefully at night, my room is safe and sound.
But when I wake my mind wanders to the defenders of this ground.
That's what America is on a map, just a piece of land.
But if that were really all it was, would our nation stand?
We all rest easy, we all are safe; vast seas keep us safely away
From the turmoil brewing in the east. We will not fight today.
That privilege is left to the patriot, the soldier of the heart.
And only when Justice has been served will that soldier depart.
His war is raging in his face; Death is near at hand for him.
But still he fights, all in good faith and love, for that which he defends.
So here, at home, I idly watch to see what is his fate.
And every time a life is lost my heart cries out in pain.
Of course, worse pain is felt when I hear the words of the anti-war party.
Don't they understand the sacrifices that have been given to make them free?
They say that war is wrong and that we fight without just cause.
I wonder that they honestly think so little of the breaking of Nature's laws.
So every day I walk abroad and now I make a point to shine.
For I know someone fights for me and in them I show my pride.
I frown at the morality that once set me apart
From all who fully supported the Soldiers of my Heart.
The poem was sent along with letters from my class to a unit of soldiers stationed overseas. I hope it brought them a smile.
I'm a patriot. My family has a military history. My grandpa and my dad served in the Air Force. My two cousins served in the Marines. My sister served in the Army Reserves. I at one time wanted to serve, but life took another course and that's fine. I keep soldiers in my thoughts though, always hoping they will make their way safely to the land they call home after their term has finished.
I keep 9-11 in my thoughts too. And still I think it is not fair that in Texas the skies were beautiful with no smoke or gray clouds to mar them when so much suffering went on in New York. _________________ Shadows and Dust; Just Another Soul.
Good Thing Texas was not involved. It was a tragic day indeed. I remember working in sales for UPS, I went outside after a morning meeting with the drivers from my center. We could see the smoke from outside and I saw the first tower disappear before my eyes.
My wife and kids where at school in Jersey City and I was worried the smoke would billow the downtown area as its a 5 minute Ferry ride away.
I rushed to the school and made sure they were ok. I remember UPS supplied refrigerated trailers for the human remains found at the site. People who lived across the river but worked in NY where stranded as all bridges and tunnels were closed.
Terrorists, are called such because they instill terror. I was only fearful for my family. I have had weapons pulled on me in my youth, after a while it desensitizes you. I have no idea what those people in the tower must have went through. I only know what those of us on the outside felt.
Vengeance is usually the first thing on your mind when something like this happens. I'm glad for those of us who answered the call and continue to fight for the freedom of all American people.
The only part that made me angrier was those people who wished to profit from this tragedy. To me your worse then the terrorists because you make the pretense of caring they never did. I hope both your ilk share the same fate.
With that said we have to move on, it is what makes Americans capable of overcoming any odds. Whether we are ignorant, boisterous, stupid, or a little bit of them all. Much like Winston Churchill said when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor, "Gentleman we have won the war". "Are enemies have awoken a sleeping giant".
WOW, has it already been a year since I first posted this thread?!
Today I had my annual discussion about this tragedy with my high school students, most of whom were only 5-7 yrs old when it occurred...
It still bears importance, I think, to discuss with our younger generation. For them, 9-11 is almost a 'non-event' and it won't be much longer til my students consider it a true historical moment.
But, for us, it was not history, but part of our lives.
It's odd to think of kids not understanding how significant 9-11 was to our generation. I suppose it is for them like the Vietnam War is for me. I was in 1st grade before the war ended (1975), but had no idea that it was current events. I was in the Midwest, insulated from the events of the day. I only know what happened from studying those events as an outsider.
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