Tuesday, September 6, 2011


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.


  1. Beautifully said. You've put it into words in a way that helps me explain (even to myself) why I still find myself watching every new program that comes along about 9/11. I don't want to forget either. My kids were 1 and 3 years old at the time, and I remember just sitting stunned in front of the television for days on end, on the phone with various other mommy friends, usually not even speaking, but needing to know that there was an ear to listen if I felt the need to talk.

  2. I had a lot of those silent phone calls, too, Chris.

  3. I remember only one phone call. Susan.

    My son was TDY in the Middle East when terror struck. I had just gotten an email from him the night before, saying he would be on a plane in a few hours, flying back home.

    For 36 hours, I didn't know where he was or how he was.

    And then he called. Safe and sound. He still couldn't tell me where he was for security reasons. But he was safe and sound, thank God. He finally made it home the following Sunday.

    (I found out later where he had been. It's a good thing I didn't know at the time.)

    You never know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have.

  4. The thought "Eye for an eye. And we all end of blind" was such an incredible thought for the day. I appreciate your thoughts and memories and wish we could get beyond all the hatred that still lingers.

  5. My daughter was a sophmore at U of M that fall; my most indelible memory is her calling me on the phone, scared, crying and lost. I cried too; and asked if she wanted me to come spend the night in her dorm room with her. It took everything I had to let her stay there and work it though. I couldn't help thinking of her attendence at that high profile university and wondering if the terrorism was over. I cried again on my drive home fron work on the interstate as someone waved a huge American Flag on an overpass. More tears days later as fireman stood in the road with their boots collecting any donation. Even now, I tear up remembering. I mourn for what we lost; but rejoice in being an American.

  6. Thank you all for your comments. I think your comment, Linda, about never knowing how strong you are, applies to the country as a whole in that situation. Marie, thought of you driving home and seeing a giant flag brings tears to my eyes because I can see it clearly in my mind. Wow.

  7. It is good to remember. Far away as I am, I can remember being woken up by my husband to the terrible news. I was 39 weeks pregnant and I remember worrying what we were doing bringing our baby into this strange new world.
    So I will remember and join in our collective sorrow.

  8. I remember. The 9/11 attack was carried out in the USA, but it was an attack on all of us. It was my 32nd birthday. No-one remembered my birthday that day (not even me), because we woke to the horrifying scenes on our televisions of the world gone mad. We were shocked and saddened. I was beyond words. WHY would ANYONE do ANYTHING like that?
    Susan, thank-you for your beautiful words. I want to remember, also. If we remember, maybe we can work together to prevent it, or anything like it, happening ever again.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!