Monday, September 12, 2011

When the World Came Crashing Down

Note - I actually wrote this yesterday and then spent hours debating if I should post it.  I was so young at the time, my memories so unclear.  But after sleeping on it, i decided to go with it (as I usually do):

I was a child when the towers fell.  Too young, even, to have yet been branded "rebel".  I remember the slight sense of panic in the teachers and administrators as we were herded from our classes.  I remember being home and my mother being extremely worried (my father was in the city, his cell was dead and we had no contact with him for several hours).  I remember.

In the years that followed, I have spent time trying to get a feel for what it might have felt like as an adult.  Knowing that this country had taken a blow that would change it forever.  Knowing that the inherent safety we all felt living in America was suddenly gone. 

I remember getting off in Penn Station with my dad once a few years after.  We passed the national guardsmen, with the big rifles and their bomb sniffing dogs. "This is our new reality, " he told me.  I don't remember a world where soldiers didn't prowl the nation's travel hubs.

But there is one thing that forever strikes me.  Of all the images, it's not the plane striking the second tower, the terrified scrams as the towers fell.  The large clouds of billowing ash and debris.  All horrifying in their own rights, for sure.  But forever seared in my brain will be the images of those who jumped from the towers.  Every time I try to imagine what was going through their minds as they clung to window sills-  the extreme heat, the terror - no possible rescue.  I try to imagine the horror of knowing that you best option is to leap a hundred stories to your death.  And my brain seizes up.  it does not allow me to even go there.  And I feel such an awful clenching in my guts.  And I know that there is the pain of an entire nation.  Wrapped up in the decision that to escape this pain, this heat this impending death is to chose to die on your own terms.

Yesterday's ceremony at ground zero was extremely well done and moving.  The falls and trees and pool is a wonderful monument to those who died.  To see the way the fire fighters still honor the first responders makes me feel that America as a country has not lost its way so far that we cannot come back.

I heard ex-New Jersey governor Patterson say that now that we have had out tenth year ceremony, it is time for America as a whole to move on.  Whether he's right or wrong aside, we may move on but we may never forget. 

The atrocity committed by those who hate us was the opening blow in a war that's lasted over 10 years.  It didn't end with the death of Bin Ladin.  Our enemy's heart is filled with a hatred for us and everything we believe in.  He will not rest until we are all dead.  And that is why we cannot rest either.  We must remember.

My birthday is almost here.  I'll be 21 - no longer a "child" in anyone's book.  I will have my own memories, my own feelings and my own life.   I will continue to move forward and try and make the most of the life I have.

But each year on September 11, I will remember the day the world came crashing down.

5 comments:

  1. I don't know.
    I was there..and it was an extremely traumatic day, for the reasons you mentioned. But I really dont feel like the world came crashing down..or that everything changed. There are wars going on thousands of miles away that don't effect me much and there's some more security here and there.
    Other than that..everything is pretty much the same.

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  2. I feel like the mindset of our country changed that day - as well as how the world views us (or parts of the world). Someone slapped the bully in the face. And the bully flinched - at least for a moment. And LOTS changed. How we get screened at the airport - how we now have "if you see somethnig say something" as our Big brother type slogan. How armed soldiers patrol Penn Station. And how your internet tastses are probably recorded somewhere.

    The world has definately changed in subtle ways.

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  3. I like this post. Well-written. And I hope that we never forget.

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  4. It was a great tragedy and wake-up call at the same time. But perhaps it also made Americans realise that in parts of the world which value personal liberty, steps need to be taken to defend those freedoms - even in one's own back yard.
    Anon613-London

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