Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I Have Not Forgotten.

At this hour on 9/11/2001, I recall sitting at my computer at home engaged in an online group therapy session (chat room that employed text, audio, and video) with "cyberfriends" from around the world. In an hour when we were normally running "name that tune" type of music quizzes and trivia games, spouting nonsense and teasing the other team, we were instead keeping vigil with one of our group whose husband is a policeman on the NYPD.

She hadn't heard from him all day since he was called to the World Trade Center after the first plane hit. At 2 AM the next morning, after being online all night with her, we were relieved to hear her exclaim, "I hear the door! That's got to be him!" She dropped the microphone and we chatted in text a while and waited. She never returned to the microphone. We all appreciated why. We were grateful that she was spared the agony that so many others faced that night and in the months afterward. Some, to this very day, still do not know what became of their loved ones who were at the World Trade Center that day.

As the weeks passed after 9/11 and the rescue/recovery operations continued at Ground Zero, one of the guys from our little online group, Matt, volunteered to help sift debris at the landfill site on Staten Island. We heard from him less during his time volunteering -- he worked a regular job and then went to the landfill to put in long hours at night -- but when we did, we all agonized with him as he recounted finding random bits and pieces of victims from Ground Zero among the debris. It was horrifying. He didn't sleep well for months after that.

For me, 9/11 and the months afterward were a time of very somber reflection and gratitude -- reflection on how closely knit we human beings became during that time of tragedy and gratitude that this tragedy had only touched my family from a distance, though the sights, sounds, and stories of others who were there. It was a trying time but it was a time that we were all very close as human beings, not just Americans but human beings. From our next door neighbors to the Scotsman playing against you in a trivia game online, every one of us shared that common bond of loss, of shock, of the fragility that is our human existence.

The flags were flying at half-mast at work today. I got there in time to see our Security manager lowering them. We didn't even mention 9/11 or the reason those flags were flying lower. We greeted each other as we would any other morning. In some way, it seems a triumph over the evil that touched us all that day in 2001 that we treat this day not much unlike any other but it sadly seems like a loss of our humanity when that tragedy is not forefront in our minds and hearts at every moment on this day.

I think that, on this sixth year mark of those tragic events of 9/11/2001, the thing I miss the most is the humanity we lost when American politics became more important than our unity, than what is right, what is true, and what is good about our fellow human beings. I will never forget the kindness, the benevolence, the humanity of which we are capable; I saw it that day and will never forget it. Nor will I ever drop my guard against the evil that can be visited upon humankind by those who hate, those who cannot tolerate an idea outside of their own zealous ideologies. There is no monster scarier than a zealot.

It is my fervent hope that it does not take another horrific act of evil to bring that same kindness and humanity back to the American body politic. This country has become so divided between the major political ideologies that many ideologues are nothing more than walking mouths. They have closed their eyes, gone deaf, and shutdown their minds... now they vehemently spout whatever propaganda they hope will provide them with power in the next election. It's a sad, sad commentary on what this country in particular has lost. We have lost the American spirit.

God bless the families and friends who lost loved ones that day. I pray that they have found some peace with their loss. God bless and guide the brave men and women (military and otherwise) and their families who fight against the evil that cost us dearly that day and all the days leading up to it. May we all be wiser and more vigilant for the hard, hard lesson visited upon us six years ago today.

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