It was early in the morning when John called from work and told me to turn on the television. “Our country is under attack,” he said. With a cup of coffee in hand, I turned on the TV. Every channel was showing the effect of the plane that had slammed into the twin tower, the second plane had just hit. It wan’t an accident. It was a purposed attack on America. The land we felt safe in was now a ticking time-bomb as planes were being accounted for and more reports of the Pentagon and an obscure field were being broadcasted.
I ran downstairs to get our teen boys up and alerted them to what was going on. Together, we watched in horror as the towers melted into a cloud of debris and filled the New York streets. People were running, screaming, and frantically searching for those they hoped had made it out of the buildings. Firefighters carried the injured to safety and began looking for survivors of their own station. We watched as President George W. Bush got the news in front of an audience of school children.
“Well, FBI man,” I said to Nathan, who had wanted to go into investigative work from the time he could use a decoder, “what are you thinking now?”
“Mom,” he looked straight at me, unwavering and resolute, “they need good guys in there.”
Our country was under attack, and yet here was a young man willing and ready to step up to the plate to defend and protect her honor.
About an hour later, I reluctantly made the 25 mile drive to where I had been teaching water aerobics. I was so numb with the news and looked at the empty sky. When I signed my time-card, I noticed all of those on treadmills and eliptical machines were watching the latest updates. I thought of our friends at Statton Island and prayed for their safety, then numbly went out to the pool thinking, Surely no one will be here. Our country is under attack and the events are still unfolding.
But there they were, the older ladies who showed up twice a week to get a mild work-out and fill a few of their social slots. Visiting and bobbing around, ready for the upbeat music to play, just like it did every class. How ironic I had the Glenn Miller band on my que, singing about supporting the country during the WWII years. Even songs like Chatanooga Choo Choo eluded to the sacrifice that men and women paid to fight for the freedom we had. The women in my class had fathers or uncles who served during WWII and loved ones who were involved with Korea and Vietnam. I was surprised that they barely gave a nod of concern, instead they were lounging around in the outdoor pool ready for class to start. I ached for the loss of patriotism in the hearts of those who moved around in front of me.
After class, I dried off, turned in my keys, and quit. I was in mourning with the rest of the counrty. On the way home, I saw the red, white, and blue colors of our country on several of the freeway overpasses. Our country was under attack, but I was still an American.
Life hasn’t been the same in our country since that fateful day, but we do have a decision; we can either support and defend the truths we hold so dear.. or become waterlogged with our own concerns and self-indulgences.
Lately, it has been hard to feel the sence of patriotism that held us together during that time. The news about terrorism on our own land, by our own citizens, and occasionally being funded by our taxdollars, makes flying the flag something that is an obligation reserved for a few days out of the year.
There are certain dates that tend to stick in people’s minds.They can recall where they were and how they heard the news about JFK’s assasination, the day Ronald Reagan was shot, or watching the Challenger disintegrate over the Florida coast while the crew member’s parents watched from the stands.
This is the annniversary of 9-11. Let’s remember.
“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” – Sandy Dahl, wife of Pilot Jason Dahl, Flight 93
Did we learn anything? American lives matter.