Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Day The World Stood Still: 9/11 Remembered

I normally try to keep things light and funny around here.

There's enough sadness and realness in the world on a regular basis, that I wanted this place to be an escape.

But given it's the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it only seems fitting to do a tribute of sorts.

My youngest son wanted to have a 9/11 "party/celebration"  or even a "re-enactment" in remembrance. My wife tried to explain that 9/11 was very tragic and many people lost their lives or lost loved ones, and its not something that you celebrate or re-enact.

Being the smart little cookie that he is, he wanted to know why then people re-enact the Civil War or War of 1812, when those were also dark tragic times in America's history.

It makes you think, why is it we chose to have remembrance services for 9/11? What is it that we want our kids to take away from it? Why is it important to teach them about it?

It's an important part of American history, just like the attack on Pearl Harbour. Some might say even more so, because the loss of life was greater, involved mostly innocent civilians, and occurred during peacetime. But without regular remembrances, 9/11 will become like our generations Pearl Harbour, mostly forgotten by those in the next generation who aren't history buffs. Be honest, when was the last year you stopped for a moment of silence for the victims of Pearl Harbor? Most people who aren't of the WWII generation can't even recall the exact date it occurred.

Humans have a way of forgetting the past, especially when it's painful. This opens the possibility of history repeating itself, often because of our complacency. That's partly what left us to be so susceptible to the 9/11 attacks. We thought America was protected by our being surround by oceans and two friendly countries. It's the same attitude people had prior to Pearl Harbour. Although we are now friends and alias with Japan, terrorism is still a very real threat.

It also makes it easier for revisionists to rewrite history in a more pleasant light. There are already those who are trying to say the Holocaust never happened.

Not only is it important to remember so that we never forget, by it is also important so that we acknowledge all the ordinary citizens who stepped up during that terrible time and acted in heroic ways. The passengers of flight 93 are only one of many examples that occurred. Anybody can be a hero by doing what is right, putting others before themselves, and helping where they can.

Here's what I remember from 9/11:

It was a weird time We had just lost or little girl Isabelle on August 21st due to a rare condition, and were still reeling from that. I had left my still emotionally distraught wife at home and went to work at my Medical Assistant job at Muncie Family Practice.

Listening to the radio on the way in, it seemed like a normal day. As I was pulling into the lot, they were begining to report that it appeared a small private plan had crashed into the World Trade Center.

I remember getting out of the car and thinking, "What kind of idiot can't see the GIANT building directly in front of his Cessna?"

Once inside, I started my day of checking in patients, taking vitals, etc. In between, we had a radio on in the nurses station, and more reports were coming in. I could almost sense it. It was clear that it was not an accident. The news people had no clue what the hell was going on. They were reporting EVERYTHING, even rumor and hearsay.

Patients coming in were sharing what they had heard or seen on TV with us. Everyone was just in shock. More like a numb disbelief.

I called my wife to see if she was watching the coverage. She was. She updated me on what she knew.

It was like being in a fog. Everything was hazy. I remember going home and watching all the coverage. Seeing the replays of the planes crashing into the building, shown ad nausea. And of the buildings tumbling down. We spent weeks watching the coverage of the cleanup. Rarely was our TV tuned to anything else.

I remember feeling an overwhelming sense that I HAD TO DO SOMETHING. I tried volunteering to go with a group headed to New York to help with the clean up, but they only wanted actual doctors/nurses/psychologists. I tried to re-enlist in the Navy, but was told that I would have to change job fields, as they weren't currently taking any Hospital Corpsmen re-enlistments. And that was IF I could even get them to give me a waiver for my back condition.

I just felt so helpless. Not a feeling I was familiar with. I wanted to do something. Even if it was just moving debris.

Needless to say, watching the nonstop 9/11 coverage so soon after losing our daughter did not do any favors to our mental well-being. But time does heal wounds.

I remember being so proud of our country at the overwhelming show of patriotism that followed in the weeks and months. All the flags. All the people who did help with the clean up. The fundraisers. All the young people who ran to the nearest recruiting station. The Congress actually working together!

9/11 will have lasting effects on my psyche. Much like my grandfathers felt about the "Japs", I will always have a distrust of Muslims. All that talk about Islam being a peaceful religion is BULLSHIT, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are either a) a Muslim b) not a student of history or c) never read the Koran.

I come from a long line of grudge-holders, and I WILL NEVER FORGET.


Anonymous said...

Great post, Ed.

Coffeypot said...

I won't forget, either, Ed. Great post.


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