Friday, September 11, 2009

IN MEMORY



Every November some newscaster asks, "Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?" And I always think of my advanced college grammar class. A student burst through the door, shouting the news with tears running down her cheeks. We all made a dive for the library where there were television sets. This morning I awoke to almost the same question, "Where were you when terrorist hijackers guided planes into the twin towers in New York on this day eight years ago?"
That morning I was rushing around, getting ready for work, when one of my daughters called to tell me to turn on the TV. She was nearly hysterical because her soldier husband was on assignment in the middle east. Like most of the world I watched as the Pentagon was hit and the Pennsylvania heroes took matters into their own hands. I cried and sometimes I just stared at the television screen in numb shock, unable to understand how anyone could be so devoid of human compassion as to slaughter innocent people in such a senseless way.

The following day as I drove to work, I passed hundreds of American flags lining the streets. They too brought tears to my eyes as I thought of all the people doing such a simple thing as flying a flag to show their support for the victims' families and for our country.

Eight years later, I'm aware of all the snide comments that have been made in publications and on the internet concerning our flag. Some feel flags are silly, old fashioned, and meaningless. Some think that by insulting our flag, they're more clever and informed than the rest of us. And some imagine the flag is a symbol of some kind of tyranny. But to me, the flag stands for those occasions such as that morning eight years ago when we were a united country with our politics and prejudices taking a back seat. The flag stands for the hopes and dreams of every man, woman, and child who believes in freedom. It stands for the men and women, such as my son-in-law and the sons and daughters of friends and family, who stepped forward to protect our land, our homes, and our freedom. It means I can worship God according to my own faith and conscience; it means I can protest against elected officials with whom I disagree, and it means I can own property and follow my own dreams.

Last year while we were visiting Washington DC where my son-in-law was still being treated at Walter Reed, we visited the memorial at the Pentagon. I find myself thinking today of all those who died there that day. Even at the Pentagon, there were small children who died, innocent passengers on the hijacked plane.

With the passage of time, we tend to distance ourselves from that tragic day. Some think it was just New York that was affected, but that isn't true and we need to remember the soldiers, firemen, and airline passengers from all over this country that died or were injured. Not all of the victims were Americans; some were visitors from other lands. In addition to the huge loss of human life there were massive financial repercussions, but perhaps the saddest loss of all is the loss of innocent trust. Curiosity about other beliefs and customs has been replaced with suspicion of differences.
Yet as long as I see the star spangled banner floating in the air, I continue to have hope for a better tomorrow, a belief in the innate goodness of people, and a fervent belief that freedom is worth striving for.
Where were you when you heard of the 9/11 tragedy?

9 comments:

Ms Durrant said...

I was preparing to leave for school where I taught 1/2 day Kindergarten and 1/2 sixth grade. It was a sobering day. How do explain terrorism to 6 year olds? And how do you make 12 year olds still feel safe when they witness people willing to kill themselves and others to prove a point? Yet I was touched and amazed at the outpouring of love and patriotism shown at that time. My greatest fear is that as we are further removed from the events of that tragic day we will forget all that we saw and learned. I only hope we never have to see another such day before we pull together like that again.

Jennie said...

I so agree with you. When we should be drawing together, we seem to be becoming more polarized.

Britt said...

In the car on the way to school...

All we did through every class for two days was watch the news. It was so hard to go back to "normal" life.

Haiku Amy said...

I was at home in my apartment. I didn't have any morning classes (because I spent all morning watching t.v. I am assuming I had nothing else to do). My husband called and woke me up to tell me I wouldn't be going to work that day. I worked at the airport cleaning planes and stocking supplies. So at first I was really excited that I didn't have to go to work, but at the time I didn't fully grasp what had happened. After spending all morning watching news, I was feeling guilty for being excited that I didn't have to go into work. Now that is the thing I think of most when I remember that day.

AzJen plus 5 said...

I was driving down the freeway to work, when the radio announcer saw the tape of the first plane hitting... and flipped out. By the time I got to work there were people crowded into the conference rooms waiting for the news stations to tell us what was going on. Some had family there, it was a day that seemed to happen in a moment and still last forever.
This date comes around once every year, and every year, I'm still expecting time to stand still and every year it still seems like it was just last year...

Mindi said...

I was at home. It was very early in the morning and my sister-in-law called me and told me to turn on the news. So I did, only a few minutes before the second tower was hit. I think I spent the rest of the day watching TV (totally forgot about parent-teacher conference that day!) and worrying about what would happen.I was pregnant at the time so I worried a lot about my unborn baby. It was also the day my brother was reporting for duty in the army. I worried about him as well. He did get a two week reprieve, no planes were taking off to take him to basic training. My grandma was visiting to say good0bye to my brother and she was stuck here for several days before she managed to get home.

Stephanie said...

I was sleeping when my mom yelled at "stephanie get down here! SOmething terrible has happened!" what a great way to start your birthday! Yes that was my 13th birthday! You know that luckly number 13. Another odd thing; my grandma wanted my middle name to be Osanna, named after her grandmother, which would have made my initials SOS. Luckily my mom did not want my initials to be SOS and truly saved me! Who knows what people would have said if Osanna had been my middle name! That was the one day that my firends truly made my birthday special. That day was also a miracle for our family. My mother's cousin's office was located where the wing was imbedded in the pentagon. By the Grace of God he was saved that date, he had an appointment whne the plane struck. When he returned he put on a fire fighter suit and started saving a lot of the servers in the pentagon. I hope people remember September 11 as a day that we came together, a day that woke the sleeping giant again, A day when everyday people became Heros.

M. Gray said...

I was just completing my freshman year at BYU and had slept in that morning when I finally heard the news. I felt so guilty that day--that I was the lazy US citizen that valued sleep over the lives that were lost. But I was able to attend the BYU devotional. I remember President Bateman seemed to know all the appropriate words of sadness and comfort.

Carol Stratton said...

I was on a long walk with my friend. We passed another friend who had a radio headset and she told us she had just heard that a plane had accidently crashed into one tower. I took off for home and turned on the news to learn that it wasn't an accident and watched in horror as first one tower fell and then the other. As more bad news came during the day I became terribly aware of the hateful and evil people in the world that have no regard for human life and hates our country for its freedoms. These evil leaders use hatred and lies to control their followers. I, too, appreciated seeing our country pull together to encourage, aid, and rebuild confidence and peace in our hearts.