September 11: Hope and Remembrance
At 9:00 a.m. on 9/11/01, I’d just come back from dropping my daughter at kindergarten. The sky was robin-egg blue, the air a perfect September calm. A neighbor screamed to me from her car, and the rest of the day was sheer horror. I will never forget. Shock. Agony. Grief.
Forty minutes away. Too close. Much too close.
That night we all gathered on my front lawn, a circle of candles and hearts and prayers.
You just don’t forget.
If anything good came from that awful day, it was that for at least a brief time we were one United States of America. We were all Americans. We all felt a pain in the pits of our stomachs, the lurching of our hearts, the constriction in our throats and tears in our eyes. We loved our neighbor, near and far, from cities to remote little towns, black, brown, white, yellow, red, gay, straight, male, female. We were family, a wounded family, and we grieved as one. Red, white and blue became the new black. We were proud, we were strong, we were one, honoring the brave and the lost and the taken. They were us, we were them.
Our hearts may have softened towards each other, but I also think how sad that we couldn’t sustain that sense of pride and family. Things calmed down, we went about our routines. Fell back into old patterns. Terror still threatens this world of ours, and yet we fight our own small fights, our petty snits, our egos drowned in the latest trend, the latest news, the latest gossip, the latest celebrity sighting. As if we can’t sustain loving our neighbor without tragedy to bring it about. Oh, but that’s human nature. Weddings and funerals. Drama brings people together.
We argue on the right, on the left, and we suffer the idiocy of politicians. I hear a lot of talk that doesn’t walk. I hear each news cycle replacing the last. Like some strange reality show, yesterday’s unanswered wrong overrun by today’s, and today’s by tomorrow’s. We numb. We stay medicated on electronics. Opinions aren’t debated, they’re spewed. We don’t listen. We don’t really see. The world is in shambles. We seem very divided. Something is wrong here.
But for one day, maybe just an hour, maybe only 10 minutes ~ we’ll remember 9/11 and that flood of love and hope and “don’t you dare” will fill us up. We’ll be a family for 10 minutes. We’ll remember why we love this place and the people in it. But maybe, just maybe, we can nurture that love and hope and integrity a little longer? Might the foundational idea that we are a free people nourish and inspire us, just a little longer? That it’s worth fighting for?
Can we recognize that there is light and that yes, there is also some very ugly, very dark scary shit in the world and it’s up to each one of us to know the difference and take up the torch right where we are with a battle cry to spread a little more light, a little more love, a little more courage?
There are some amazing people in this world, and I’m lucky to know several who take up that torch every day with all their hearts. We all know them. They are sincere. Let’s all be more sincere. Let’s honor the brave, the lost and taken with some blessings. Be the blessing in someone’s day. Be present. Be good.
And I had no idea this piece of writing was going to go the way it did, but I hope we can use this memory to remember that at the end of the day we’re all in this together. At the base of the fallen towers let’s plant hope, and water it well.