September 11, 2001. George was on vacation, but he put on his flight suit and went into his squadron anyway. Because he had to do something. Because he couldn't just stay home and watch the horror.
I stayed home and watched the horror because I had no other choice. I remember vividly what that horror felt like.
I recently watched a video clip about the aftermath of floods in Vermont. The spirit of community and working together is very human and sadly beautiful. Nature dumps on us, and we keep going. It's messy and hard and for some people beyond tragic, but nevertheless we keep going.
Nature is impartial. The Vermont floods happened because Hurricane Irene just happened to run up the east coast. Ditto for New Orleans and Katrina. The earthquake in Japan happened because tectonic plates moved. Ditto for the quakes in Haiti and New Zealand, and Monday's quake in Sumatra.
The events of 9/11 were harder to process. On that day, it wasn't random Nature doing what Nature does. It was hate. And we all knew it. Not just Americans; the whole world knew. And while part of the world rejoiced at our loss, most people were horrified. And many of those people reached out in sympathy and compassion.
That kind of hate is hard to process. It's a collective hate...the hate of one culture for another. The kind of hate that sparks wars and leaves so many innocent victims in its wake. It led to hate in the form of threats on mosques in the United States. It led to Enduring Freedom and Navy Seals killing Osama Bin Laden. While I'm not exactly sad Bin Laden is dead, I don't understand why so many people took to the streets to celebrate. Justice is one thing. Glee in another human's violent death is something entirely different.
Eye for an eye. And we all end up blind.
I'd like to remember the horror because I don't want to forget. I don't want to forget footage of Father Judge's body being carried from the rubble. I don't want to forget how many firefighters and police officers lost their lives. I don't want to forget the footage of emergency medical staff waiting in vain for survivors to be pulled from the rubble. I don't want to forget how the passengers on Flight 93 took matters into their own hands and saved who knows how many people. I don't want to forget the service of those at the Pentagon. I don't want to forget the 3,000 people who died that day. I don't want to forget what happened afterwards. What happened in our hearts. What we did to heal.
I want to remember.
Real Simple Magazine published an article in which family and friends of victims share how they keep their memories alive. It's beautiful. People Magazine is featuring chilren of 9/11 on its cover. I haven't read it yet but probably will because I remember seeing very pregnant women and some women with babies on their laps on Good Morning, America, months after the horrible day.
I'd like to see what those belly bumps and swaddled infants are up to these days. Their innocent lives changed that day and yet they keep going.
It's tragic. And beautiful. Because we keep going. Because we remember.