Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thoughts - Ten Years Later

I wasn’t really going to say anything. Then, I was in the room when someone flipped on World News Tonight, they started showing clips, and a ton of emotions came up. Well, to be fair, I’d already decided to write about it before then, but the tone of what I had to say changed a bit.

Everyone old enough to remember it knows exactly where they were and what they were doing 10 years ago. I do not need to tell you about mine. You have your own.

Sometimes it feels like 10 years have passed, and, other times, it just doesn’t. The one thing that I think just about everyone on the planet has in common in their recollections of that day is that that was the day that we entered a new world, and we knew exactly what was happening.

I don’t mean that we knew all of the ramifications. We didn’t. We didn’t know that Afghanistan would claim 1,562 of America’s best and brightest and wound 11,191 more. We didn’t know about the 4,466 of our own dead, the 33,080 wounded, and over half a million dead civilians that would lose all in one blinded group of people’s headlong rush into an Iraqi conflict that was at once horribly unnecessary and entirely unsustainable. Did you hear me? I said over half a million people. Gone forever. And for what?

We didn’t know that we’d never again be able to travel simply and easily through the airport, or that we would no longer be able to meet our sleepy-eyed loved ones at the gate. We didn’t know the hatred that our own countrymen and women were capable of toward people who seemed to look “like” those who’d attacked us.

We didn’t know that the president who was an emotional lifeline so soon after the attack would soon be so deep over his head that he’d never find his way out. We didn’t know the way that the world that rallied behind us would turn on us so quickly because of the decisions he made. We didn’t know.

So, what did we know? We knew that the world we’d been living in was gone. We knew that America would never be invincible again, and the words “things like that can’t happen here” were now meaningless.

We knew our neighbors weren’t so different than we were, and that the oft-hated New York Yankees were just a bunch of guys who were a huge part of a wounded city’s attempt to heal. We knew we were living in a new world, and that we’d have to find a way to pick up the pieces of the old one.

We knew that much.

Now, our country seems to be divided more than ever. Elected representatives seem to be more interested in fighting with each other than trying to get anything done to help people who desperately need it. Pundits point fingers and scream endlessly. Money’s tight, and people hold on to jobs that are below the pay grade and comfort level they’ve spent a lifetime establishing because they know too well the hard times of unemployment checks and fruitless searches.

But you know something? I think we’re going to be all right.

I believe this because in our hearts, we share one thing. It may be simplistic/idealistic of me to say, but it's something that I desperately want to believe to be true.

We’re Americans, and the things that bind us together are stronger than the things that push us apart.

Shantih shantih shantih.

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