Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later

On Sunday night I was vegging out with the kids, trying to get them to bed. But they insisted on laying on the couch instead. I did put them in bed, but didn't close the door. About five minutes later, I looked up to see a book (something Dr Seuss) emerge, followed by my son who needed to go to school in the morning. Of course, his sister had to get in the act, so they joined me on the couch. I bring this up because I had it on the National Geographic Channel. They were rerunning the show Inside 9/11. But this was the first time I had the kids next to me while watching this.

It occurred to me that they live in a world where terrorists have attacked us and destroyed parts of the country while we all watched. I remember the day clearly. I was living with my now-deceased grandmother at the time. She came in a little before nine to tell me to turn on the news. I did so to find a beautiful Tuesday morning marred by the fire burning in the North Tower. I watched the second plane impact the South Tower live on TV. I watched raw footage of people falling out of buildings, including the sight and sound of their impact. I saw the towers fall, one after the other. And I watched the news far into the night, as images from Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, and the empty skies above continued to pour in. And while the tragedy itself only impacted my personal life minimally, it felt like the world had just changed. Probably because it had.

I remember the last time I felt such bewilderment. 1986. Sitting in school on a January morning, watching the Space Shuttle Challenger lift off like so many other schoolchildren did that day. It took some time to realize that a tragedy had happened, but the moments after the disintegration of the Shuttle were seared into my mind. To this day, I have the moments committed to memory, and remember it vividly with every shuttle launch I've watched since.

I'm sure there are those that remember the same numbing feeling from the moment they heard of the Kennedy assassination, and fewer still who remember that Sunday afternoon,
December 7, when they were stunned to hear the world had changed and we were going to war.

But this is all history to my children, who have yet to experience a tragedy that affects the nation. Instead, they will grow up in a world where people of another religion use it to justify killing us, where we have a continuing debate over how much freedom we must lose to keep us safe, and a world where older movies featuring the New York skyline give their father a pause when two gleaming towers rise above the landscape.

As you go through your world, annoyed by the security, frustrated by the news, angry about the war, or concerned about your family member now standing in harms way, remember that we got here not by choice, but because the world changed. And our decisions on the war and on our security, right or wrong, have been guided, in large part, by the memory of those many lives lost that beautiful and horrible day, seven years ago.


Beth said...

The world did indeed change that day. I couldn't watch all day, it was my daughter's first day of preschool and parents brought them in the first day. Then at home I had to watch TV in another room from where the kids were. How in the world could I explain it to them? My husband was mad that I eventually told my daughter that the planes going into the buildings was not by accident, I thought she should know the truth, and let her know that our country would do whatever it takes to not let something like that happen again. Remarkably it hasn't, because I really feared strikes to our country on our soil would keep happening on a regular basis.

Whether you like Bush or not, under his command, and with the dedication of untold people working behind the scenes, we have remained safe since 9-11-01. I pray that my children will remain safe and never have to have an image like we adults have of 7 years ago that will be etched in their minds.

shaw kenawe said...

In rememberance of Kevin McCarthy.

Husband, father, son, brother, friend.

Killed on September 11, 2001, at the age of 41, while working at Cantor Fitzgerald, Trade Center, NYC.

We'll never forget you Kevin.

Beth said...

Senseless deaths, all, just senseless.

Sorry for your loss, Shaw.

shaw kenawe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick M said...

Prior comment was removed as it is not appropriate to the solemnity of 9/11. It will be printed in its entirety and addressed in the next post.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

I know I won't forget. In fact, I still have the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper from the very next day which outines the entire happenings.