Blue stained wood with crimson carnations

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

This morning my alarm set off my radio at 8:15am. Through the heavy blanket of sleep the voice of a reporterette pierced my semi-aware consciousness with the words 'There has been an explosion at the World Trade Center'.
What?! my inner voice said.
Wake up! You have to wake up now! What is she saying? My voice continued as I hauled myself to an upright position. I remembered the terror alert that had been issued last night I began to pray and say 'God, no! Not again!'  I forced myself to focus and focused in on what was pouring out of my radio as the woman's voice changed to another reporter's, a newscaster's and sounds off the streets as an explosion reverberated through the airwaves.
My brain finally caught up. Thank you God! It's just footage. It's not real.

Not real.

Except that it is.
This morning it was not real, not happening again but it did happen and ten years ago it was very real.

After taking a few moments to wake up more fully I went to my bookshelf and rummaged for only a moment before setting my hand on a oddly patterned grey and blue and mauve colored spiral bound hardback notebook. I crawled back onto my bed and traveled back into time. Opening to the first entry I didn't need to look to know the date carefully and neatly penned at the top.
"September 11, 2001  For a long time now I have been wanting to start a journal because I have been learning how important it is to keep a record for future generations. Today something horrible happened to our country which I feel the need to record. At 8:42am this morning terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York City by flying a hijacked plane into one of the two towers. We had the radio on in the kitchen when the news broke and we went and turned on the TV to watch and see what was happening. Then at 9:03am as we watched this streak came across the screen and hit the second tower and there was a huge explosion which was very frightening....Everyone here was speechless....I could not believe it and all I could think of was all the people that had just died or were dying with no hope of escape...."

I finished reading the entry that detailed the entire day's events and set the book aside. I went about by morning routine and just couldn't seem to shake the feeling of dread that had jolted me awake. My inside voice decided that I just needed to turn on the news to see that everything was fine and then I could move on with my day. I obligingly flipped on Fox News and quickly sunk down into the nearest chair as the unmistakable tones of Ronan Tynan blared through the still darkened living room. He was singing "God Bless America" and for the second time today I was sucked backwards in time. For those who don't have a road map to my mind here's the thing... Ronan Tynan was a member of the group The Irish Tenors who I loved in my teen years- and still hold a great fondness for. One of the things I'll never forget the week following the attacks when there was a memorial at Yankee Stadium. Ronan was one of  of the featured performers and sung "God Bless America" to thunderous approval. This morning his clear tones again rung out doing justice to the soaring words. See it here.

The next program to come on my radio this morning again began to cover the anniversary of 9/11 as well and more and more remembrances and emotions began churning in me. The thing is, although the remembering and the emotions are painful to feel all over again I don't want to push them away I want to remember.
9/11 is a day of horror but it is also a day of hero's and hope and I don't want to forget any aspect of that day. Today we live in a world that is entirely different than the world we lived in on 9/10/01 and only those of us who were there on both sides of the dateline can act as witnesses. We cannot forget. We are the ones who can tell what it was like before. We are the ones who can tell what it was like that day. We are the ones who can explain why we are different today. There are children today who don't know and there are ones who are born day by day who must be told. If we stay silent because it hurts less not to relive that day then we allow that pain to control us, we allow those terrorists to control us.
As I reflect I am reminded of my younger self (and current self) who asked grandparents about the wars they experienced and lived through. I wanted to understand but I was never given satisfactory answers when I asked those questions. I don't want to repeat that when cycle when someday my children and grandchildren ask me about 9/11. I want to tell the truth. I don't have or want to live in the past- but 'those who don't know the past are doomed to repeat it' and I don't know about you but I don't want them to repeat it.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are real.
We lived them.
We mourned them.
We changed because of them.
We rose above them.

Perhaps if you haven't before then this year on the tenth anniversary it's time to sit down with your own journal and write about that day.

Perhaps it's time to answer the question that still hangs in the air and that future generations will echo: "Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day?"