Saturday, September 10, 2011

We must never forget September 10, 2001

The truth is that I don't remember much about September 10, 2001.

I know that it was a Monday. My children were 7 and 4 years of age. We were homeschooling, probably reading together, doing math problems on the white board in our lower level homeschool room in Norwalk, Connecticut, in a cute little corner of that city known as Silvermine - hence the address of my blog and the name of our homeschool.

We probably ate lunch together at the dining room table, painted, went for a walk, played catch in the yard. We probably went to the supermarket - I don't tend to go shopping on Sundays, so Mondays were often a day of food shopping for the new week.

We probably visited with our neighbors - those poor kids had to go to public school. We felt sad for them so we probably walked to their house and asked how their first days of school were going.

We had no idea how much our lives would change the following morning. We had no idea how much our nation would change the following morning. We had no idea how much our world would change the following morning.

Actually, my children's lives didn't change much at all. Thanks to the blessed ability to protect them from the big, bad world, we didn't tell them much about the specifics and the horrors of that fateful Tuesday morning for a very long time. I didn't tell Kristiana - who was 7 at the time - that the towers that had been hit were in New York City until six months later when she and I were driving along the FDR Drive in Manhattan. I pointed out the gap in the sky and informed her that the Twin Towers had once filled that space. Daniel, at 4, was far too young to understand, so we didn't tell him for years.

As unpopular a sentiment as this might be, it behooves us to recognize that many people's lives didn't change on or as a result of September 11, 2001. For the average person alive on that day, who didn't have electricity or access to a television, who didn't live in a large city, who didn't have access to airports or any reason to fly anywhere, who didn't know or care much about the United States of America - which includes most of the people on the planet - that day was just like any other day in their lives. They don't remember any remarkable details about that day any more than I can remember anything remarkable about September 10, 2001. Not everyone looks back on that day and sees it as the day that changed their lives and their nation forever.

Another unpopular sentiment that it behooves us to recognize is that every day is "September 11th" for somebody. Maybe it doesn't involve terrorists or plane crashes or collapsed skyscrapers - but every single day somebody's world come crashing down around them. They hear of a devastating medical diagnosis. A job is lost. A loved one dies unexpectedly. A house burns down. A hurricane knocks out the bridge between their quaint village and the mainland. An earthquake shakes them to their foundation. A forest fire consumes a home. A flood or a mudslide or a broken levee washes away lives and livelihoods. Starvation claims the life of another child or adult, a parent or grandparent - as do AIDS, drug addiction, and gunfire. Dogs attack a toddler and kill her. An abusive spouse rapes and kills a helpless woman while the children look on in terror. A depressed dad takes his own life. And nothing in the lives of the survivors will ever be the same. That date will be etched into their minds forever. I've certainly got my share of unforgettable dates. March 22, 2001. December 24, 2001. November 15, 2008 - to name just a few.

Nope, it's not always 3,000 people at a time. Although sometimes it is - let us not forget the tragedies in Darfur, Somalia, Rwanda, and Eastern Europe as wars raged in so many nations there twenty years ago.

It's not always plane crashes. Although sometimes it is. Someone who meant the world to me when I was in college was killed in a plane crash in Nicaragua - a crash that didn't make the news here in the United States. And when the bombings happened in the train stations in Madrid on March 11, 2004, there wasn't nearly as much attention given to it in the news here in the United States although it was just as devastating to that sovereign nation as our tragedy was to us.

Ten years later, on September 11th, 2011, the tenth anniversary of one of the worst days in the history of this nation, there will be commemorations, ceremonies, moments of silence, flags raised, flags lowered to half staff, and memorials of all kinds offered. Videos will be shown again. Phone calls will be heard again. Stories of heroes, stories of loss, stories of sorrow will be told again. Tears will flow again. Hearts will break again.  As well they should. Many will promise to do whatever it takes to prevent such catastrophes to befall us ever again. We must never forget.

My prayer is that ten years later, on September 11, 2011, we will welcome and be grateful for a new day, a chance to start again, to find new ways to pick up the pieces not only of a terror-stricken nation and a war-ravaged world, but also the pieces of the shattered lives, devastated relationships, and broken hearts that are much closer to home and that are experienced over and over again every single day.

We must never forget September 10, 2001.

Or September 11, 2001.

Or September 10, 2011.

Or any day for that matter.

We must never forget.

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