Two days ago, I wrote about my 44th wedding anniversary.
Today is another anniversary, the anniversary of a day that change the United States, and the world, forever … 9-11.
It has been 15 years since I was sitting in my office, writing, as I did everyday. The television was not on as I never had it on during my work day.
Nick called and told me a plane hit the Twin Towers. I think we both thought that a Piper single engine plane made a boo-boo, but I turned the television on just to see if it had made the news.
That is when my world changed.
There, in all of its confusion, was the Twin tower that was hit by the plane.
Smoke seeped out windows. News people were unsure.
I was intrigued, yet felt sick for the people in the tower, hoping they would escape. I thought, “Oh my, what a lot of flights of stairs to go down,” and “Those people above where it hit better make haste,” still believing it wasn’t a huge plane that hit, but realizing this might be worse than it looks.
Writing dispensed as I went downstairs to the family room, with the bigger TV and near the kitchen, so I could get a cup of tea. How could I watch this weird movie without a cup of tea to calm my now, a bit shakier, nerves?
Commentators commentated, sirens sounded and people looked confused.
As the fire seemed to grow and more smoke billowed from the gaping hole, and reports came in that this was no small plane that hit, I thought, man, if I were in the second tower, I’d get out of there, too.
And then, the second plane appeared in the sky and aimed for the second tower.
“Oh my God,” was all I could think. I probably said, “Holy shit,” too, knowing that is often my response.
By then I had talked to Nick, again.
Remember watching a science fiction movie that you thought could never happen?
That is what I thought I was watching.
Each moment and report got worse.
There was a plane headed toward Washington, possibly aiming for the White House. Planes were missing. Blasts of flames came out of the Twin Towers. People ran this way and that, except the firefighters and emergency workers.
Instead of heading away from the horror, they raced towards it.
I will never, ever, forget seeing the firefighters hauling hoses and carrying equipment and heading into the burning towers to rescue people … just doing their job.
As things got worse, I looked at the screen. People were jumping from the high floors of the tower.
The despair that must have been with them in that decision to jump, knowing they were going to die, but choosing to die from a fall instead of flames.
Each moment made me sicker, more frightened.
Things began happening so quickly, the plane in Pennsylvania, gone missing, the Pentagon being hit, and then, the crumbling of the first tower.
Ash covered ghost after ash covered ghost ran down the streets, trying to escape the explosive fall of concrete and spewing of metal girders.
It became clear to me that the second tower would collapse, too.
As news pieces of the massive puzzle began to come together, I realized something I never, in my wildest thoughts, imagined would happen … the United States was under attack.
I called a friend who lived near me and she came over. I wasn’t sure if I should pick up my daughter from high school. I did a mental tracer of where my other kids were.
And I wanted to call my mom.
But she had been dead 4 years.
So my friend and I sat in my family room, watching New York and the Pentagon burn and the life of our country turn on its head.
What we thought we knew, we didn’t. At that moment, we were on square one of what we knew about the world beyond our borders. And our thought, in all of its naivety? What did our country do to have this massacre done to us?
In the years since, we have learned. We have learned the good, the bad and the very ugly of politics, ignorance, good intentions turned bad, and bad intentions gone worse.
We have had our eyes opened to a world beyond our borders and beyond our control. We have now seen insanity and hatred on a global level.
As a country, it has become apparent, that our leaders and politicians have misjudged and mis-managed the power we bestowed on them. Ignorance is not bliss … it is dangerous.
There must be a world of thought that goes beyond war and destruction to solve problems, although, there are times when I feel like that is the only language some of these asshats understand.
But as I look at the world now, and reach the age of almost 65, and having heard of war and strife my whole life, I can’t help but wonder if there is another way? Perhaps I am letting Pollyanna have a turn at the table.
When we argue about borders with walls and without walls, and keeping our country, “a country,” I understand that.
Yet, there is also a part of me that sees the faces of the millions of refugees, simply mothers and fathers and children and grandchildren, not only wanting something better for their lives, but in many cases, simply an opportunity to stay alive, my head gets clouded and my heart says, we’ve got to help.
I don’t know. I just don’t know. How do we help the world, when we can’t heal ourselves? We kill each other, daily. We disregard each other by not showing respect, conscience, or concern.
We say we are a beacon to the world, and in many ways we are, but I also think, that beacon’s spotlight needs to be turned in on us so that we can take a good look at ourselves and work on fixing our behavior and attitudes so that we truly are a country that doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk.