Thoughts on 9/11 and "Never forget."
Like most of us who lived that day, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I was en route to work that morning--my shift began at 9:10--and my first reaction to the breaking story and the note of hysteria in the radio announcer's voice was that I was listening to some modern attempt at "The War of the Worlds." Of course it had to be something fictional like that, played off as news--no way could it be real.
But it was real. Earth-shakingly, world-shatteringly real.
"Never forget!" we proclaim each year.
And I don't think anyone has forgotten the fear that clenched our guts or the images of towers falling. I don't think we've forgotten the heroes who died "just doing what they do," as the Alan Jackson song says. I don't think we've forgotten those brave final phone calls to loved ones.
But I do think we've forgotten the days afterward, the days when we came together as a nation and as communities. Days when "United we stand" wasn't just some catchy slogan. We grieved--oh, we grieved--but we grieved together. We were terrified, but we were terrified as one. We were angry, but we were on the same side.
I don't mean to romanticize it. It was a horrible and horrific event and a terrible and tragic time. And even in our shared grief, I do realize we weren't perfect. Prejudices and injustices and broad, unfair stereotypes abounded. I know that many Muslims and others of Arab decent faced cruel backlash that they had not earned and did not deserve. I won't excuse that nor will I pretend it didn't exist. It did. It was wrong.
But for the most part, we came together. And while I in no way, shape, or form want another tragedy even remotely resembling that one, I do miss that unity. The political climate today is so hotly divided that I'm not even sure that level of catastrophe would bring us together anyway. I think instead both sides would find some way to blame the other one. We've gotten awfully good at that.
Definitely hug your loved ones tight today. Life turns on a dime so often. We don't know what tomorrow or even the next moment will bring. Remember heroes and honor their memories. And maybe, just maybe, ponder our common humanity and the fact that we aren't so different after all. Try to do something to reach out to someone, to show kindness, to sow a seed of love. I think we could definitely use some of that.