Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you?

On my way home a few nights, I was thinking about the fact that 9/11 was only a few days away.  I think that day will always hold some type of place in my heart, as well as others, due to the blow that was dealt when those planes were hijacked and slammed into the twin towers, the Pentagon building and a field in Pennsylvania.  The United States was not prepared for this type of attack, but did its best to bounce back.  Hundreds were killed, while hundreds more are still waiting to be identified.  This day reminded our young nation that we were not invincible.

This day also did two things: It brought the people together while alienating and discriminating the Arab American population for being who they were.  It forced us to open our eyes in one area and step back in how we treated each other in another.  Is that fair?  Absolutely not, especially when Arab Americans were victims like anyone else that day.  

I remember when it happened, I was getting ready to walk into my third hour class during my senior year of high school, almost every teacher had their televisions turned onto the news to watch replays of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers and hearing students talk about how they had a loved one who worked one of the towers that were shown collapsing on the screen.  Not knowing anyone in either tower, and later the Pentagon and Pennsylvania, my prayers still went out to the people who were there and the families who would never see their loved ones again, due to this tragedy.  

A few years ago, I was in Washington DC visiting KT Mac and we went to the Pentagon's 9/11 Memorial and I couldn't help by get a little choked up when I saw where the building had been rebuilt after that day.  Seeing the memorial made things a little more real to me, maybe because to see it on television and the news was one thing, but to see it in person was totally different.  Seeing the names and ages throughout the memorial was something that no one should ever have to see, but I have to admit that it was so beautifully done.

Ten years ago, this nation was attacked out of hatred, pulled into an unnecessary war and lashed out at its own citizens who just happened to look like their attackers.  At the same time, our beautiful nation came together and supported those families who lost (or nearly lost) a loved one, gave props to the heroes (policemen, firemen, and common folk who thought about more than themselves) that day and continues to try to move on, never forgetting.

Before I call it quits, I am going to leave you with a beautiful poem that Billy Collins wrote  in memory of this tragic day called "The Names".

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.
Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.
In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name --
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.
Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner --
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.
When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.
Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart. 

So I ask this: Where were you on this tragic day? 

On a sidenote: I have no idea why the first paragraph is highlighted. Have a great week! 

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