Friday, September 11, 2009

eight.

Eight years. Wow. That almost seems impossible. It almost seems surreal for it to have happened that long ago/not that long ago.  I almost didn't write today because what else could I have possibly blogged about today? I can't skirt the main issue of the day when it was a huge day that changed the way we as a country live.

I was a Senior in high school. A brand new Senior. Maybe 2-3 weeks into my year. It was going to be quite the year. I was in Student Council, I was excited for all things YHS related. That Tuesday morning I woke up to my radio alarm just like I always did on KKLA. I woke up to J. Vernon McGee, an old preacher that my Grandma Berry listened to when I was growing up. His voice was unique and perfect for waking me up early. Only that morning it wasn't him- it was the news anchor. He was talking about a bomb that went off in the world trade center. I walked out to say something to my parents and the TV was already on. I turned the corner and that's when I saw the other plane hit. What the?!? I got in the shower and when I came out they had shots of the Pentagon on fire. On the way to school in my Dad's car I heard Peter Jennings go silent when the first tower fell. School was buzzing with all sorts of scenarios. Why are we so good at gossip in high school? There were more planes, LA had been hit, The White House had been hit. For the first time in my life there were TVs on in my classrooms. It's strange because I only remember bits and pieces from the rest of that day- but that morning is still crystal clear. I'm pretty sure we went to youth group that night.

The rest of my high school year was very patriotic. Our homecoming had floats that all honored our country, we said the Pledge of Allegiance every week, people wore their red, white and blue. I guess even high schoolers aren't immune to fair-weather patriotism. What a bizarre new world to navigate. We had no idea what this meant to all of us that day- we were on the brink of adulthood. We were on that edge, not unlike Holden Caufield. We didn't have time to dilly dally now, we had to grow up. We had to grow up fast. There were going to be friends sent to war, which before that morning seemed like something you only saw on History Channel, Forest Gump or The Wonder Years.

Four years later we went to DC and NYC on our Honeymoon. We visited the Pentagon on a cloudy, windy day. We took the metro after going to Arlington Cemetery (where there were two military funerals going on). I was nervous about asking where we could go- have you ever asked someone with an automatic weapon for directions? It's a little intimidating. We were told we could walk around the building to the point of impact. You could clearly make out the plane's entry point. The lime wasn't as dark or worn. We sat there and just stared. There wasn't a memorial yet, so we made our own in our silence. I believe it was the second day we were in New York that we got on the subway to go to Ground Zero. The station there is brand new (or it was) and well lit. Tiles painted by children decorate the walls... they say things like "I miss you Daddy." "I'll always love you Mommy." Did you know there are people outside at Ground Zero trying to sell their "souvenirs" of 9/11? They have photo albums that they discreetly try to get you to purchase. No different than the guy in Times Square trying to sell me a pashmina. I berated one guy for his lack of sensitivity on the issue and then ignored the rest. What's the point? Cameron and I were very quiet while circling the fence. I really don't think you can begin to imagine the size of this place without being there. I couldn't believe it. It was still a construction site. That day we ate next door to where the towers were and had our New York slice. I still have their menu that says "Grand Re-Opening after 9-11". I think that says more about our country than any flag shirt or memorial service.

You know why this day hurts so much? For me it isn't because I take it personally as an American. I take it personally as a human being. Human life is precious and wonderful. We are incredulous when one of us takes the life of another. How could we fathom when a few take many? We could go down that whole road of what drove these men to do this, but I know the simple answer. Evil. Evil exists in this world just as surely as good does. We saw good that day, too. Don't forget that. We saw men and women running into a building to save people and they never came running back out. We heard about others on a plane sacrificing their own lives for the protection of others. This isn't just a great American story, that's just where it happened, this is a great human story about loss and sorrow and hope and finding our footing again.

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