Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts on a Very Solemn Day..

Days like these have now become a part of American culture - the very fabric as in our flag that defines us and makes us the nation we are...days like the Kennedy Assassination and Pearl Harbor before it. We stop, think, meditate, even cry. We remember where we were (those of us who were around).

I remember my dad telling me where he was when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. A break in programming on NBC and CBS radio, which I believe were playing music at the time..

"We interrupt this program for a special news bulletin.
Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu has been
attacked by Japanese forces......."

The announcer didn't pronounce Oahu correctly, and even struggled with it before finally getting it right; many Americans had no idea where Hawaii was, much less Oahu.

Dad was 12 and listening on his grandmother's radio, while living on the farm in south Georgia. They hadn't had electricity long.... or the radio.

We, everyone, knew where the World Trade Center, New York, the Pentagon and Washington, D.C. were....

Now here I was, sitting in a lab in Crabapple, near Roswell, Georgia, watching the events unfold on the Internet after someone came in my office and said a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. I sat back in my chair and stared, unbelieving what my eyes were telling me. We all did. Our first inclination after it was all over was to leave work, be with family and friends. The day was too......unnerving to be at work.

Watching for updates on the news for the many hours to follow was just as bad - the debris, the number of missing and feared dead, the rising death toll. What was worse - the networks kept playing the video of the planes going into the Towers over and over and over again. Had TV become so desensitized itself that it had to keep replaying the act of people literally dying before our eyes? And what of the replay of the Towers collapsing? Over and over. I've never liked or trusted network news - aside from their powerful agendas, but they had just lost all respect and credibility that day, although we still watched them for any news of the terrible tragedy. Eventually, the complaints flooded into the local affiliates and then to the networks themselves. The message was: STOP IT! WE GOT IT!

We all have a story to tell from that day...this day, Spetember 11th. One of many days in our history as a country, to use FDR's words, "a day that will live in infamy."

A lot changed on that, EVERYTHING changed on that day. We saw we can be vulnerable again as a nation. While it did not bring us to our knees, it did shake us....however, not for long. After we dried our tears, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work, then we buried our dead, looked for the missing and prayed for the things we couldn't do. We were sad, angry and wanted answers to our grief. We became....United. Is your flag flying today? Is your flag pin still around?

America has always been called a big family - we squabble among ourselves, always defining what it means to be free. I told a friend of mine last night - a lawyer, of all people, but one for whom I have great admiration and respect: The Constitution and Bill of Rights and the laws of this country are living, breathing documents. They are alive, just like freedom, just like liberty..and just like its people. We fight, we argue, we insult....but just like a slightly dysfunctional family (like Archie Bunker, perhaps), we are there for one another, to hug, love and console the same ones we were battling with, because we are one.....United. On September 11th, everything changed. But one important thing was while we don't always change in the necessarily the same direction, we changed together. That has been reaffirmed over and over since 9/11. We changed and I hope for all the victims of that day, THIS solemn day, we always strive to change for the better, in their memory.


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