I thought I was ready for this 10th anniversary, turns out I was wrong.
Ten years ago I was a police officer working nightwatch. I had come home, exhausted as usual, scanned the early morning headlines and went to bed. I slept amazingly well, something that wouldn't happen again for quite some time. I woke up and saw the light on my answering machine blinking furiously. The phone only rang in the kitchen of my house, so I could sleep during the days. I never heard the series of calls all day long. After the third message, I turned on my telephone and saw just how much the world had changed...
The skies were clear for several days and nights after that day. No planes allowed. It was a shocking silence that is difficult to put into words. There was no traffic pattern to rely on, no lights in a dark sky, no way to tell time by in the increase or decrease in plane traffic. It is something you don't even realize is important, until it is gone. Maybe that was a lesson all by itself.
Until that day I lived in a world where I believed the best of society. It's not that we haven't had tragedy in the US, in fact the previous few terrorist events had been domestic - Oklahoma City, Waco, and Columbine. I think maybe that's worse, but really how can you measure loss? We lost our collective innocence that day, along with the people in the planes, the Towers, the Pentagon, and the field.
We lost mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, parents, grandparents, children, aunts and uncles, and best friends. We lost first responders who went to work that day, like every other day, knowing they might not come home. Their families supported their choice to be the ones running into the chaos, fire, and danger when everyone else was running away. They supported them because they loved them and they knew it was a calling. And that day, they were called to serve a greater purpose.
What we found that day were heroes. Not just the finest and the bravest, but the strongest and the terrified ones that held open doors for their co-workers, carried friends down the stairs, made last minute phone calls for help from a plane, dragged strangers out of the rubble, and comforted each other in a mind-bending situation. Heroes that never signed up for that role, but lived up to nonetheless.
Then there were the photos - every where - of missing loved ones. Posted on fences, telephone poles, walls, street signs, and shown continuously by the media. I think those walls of photos are ingrained in my mind as much as the dusty aftermath of the towers falling and the hole in the side of one of the largest federal buildings in the world. Those pictures and what they represented were far more important to me than any building structures or what they represented. Those scenes have become part of American history.
I have traveled to parts of the world, landing there while they too found themselves under attack. I have a job now, that was developed partially as a result of blatant ongoing terrorism in the world. I live through and with these events a little each day, so I thought surely re-living the paradigm shift of 2001 wouldn't be so emotional. And yet I remember all of the moments immediately following that day. I remember the flags flying high as a symbol in defiance of defeat. I remember the blood drives and the red cross support and impromptu meetings to send help to the places in turmoil. I remember the people thousands of miles away trying to find a way to connect and hold on and send prayers to families and communities they had never met. I choose to see that new America as the result of that terrible day.
I choose to believe again in the power of good winning over bad.
"And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve...
But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
(Items in the photos from the moving 9-11 memorial, if it comes to your town - go see it!)
On Sunday visit :
And Spiritual Sundays.