Wonderful people wander into our lives. Some stay for years and some only for seconds. Each day you experience a multitude of moments that make their imprint on your life. Like a flitting dragonfly, skimming so close to the water, we traverse through our routines each day. We pay no notice to the beauty of chance instants…the instants that make us exhale, make us smile, give us joy for a brief twinkling.

Today I begin to share my moments with you. Today I promise to savor my moments.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lost Ten Years Ago Today, Remembering 9/11/01

In all the time leading up to today's 10 year remembrance of the 9/11/01 tragedy I never thought or planned on writing, posting, discussing my memories of the day. Now that the day has arrived I find myself home alone with my 2 pups on a beautiful Sunday morning. The ceiling fan is on low and the sunshine is streaming into the den. My dogs are the epitome of tranquility - Layla is stretched out on the floor with her chew bone and her snoodle. Barky is curled up on my lap, lazily watching outside. The sun's light serms absolutely sparkling. One tree that overhangs the backyard has leaves already turning yellow in autumn anticipation. In all this peace and beauty I keep wondering is this really the type of day that America woke up to ten years ago? The difference between that day and this one is that while my personal daily routine may remain intact, my heart is saddened that my son is not inheriting the country and the world that I once knew. 

Ten years ago today the World Trade Center was attacked by Muslim terrorists. Two hijacked planes flew into the towers sending thousands to their deaths, sending millions into nightmares. The day changed America forever and every American has their story from it. 

I was working at Shelby Oaks Elementary on Summer Avenue in Memphis, TN. The day was a glorious pre-fall day just like today. I loved going to work on sunny mornings like that one and hearing the students' laughter and morning busy-ness as the day would get started. 

My son Jonathan was in 4th grade and he was home sick from hay fever that day.  He was with my mother and she initially called me and told me about the first tower's hit. I told our school guidance counselor and slowly the information began to spread amongst teachers and administrators. 

Our principal received directions to lock down the school and to set up a blocked perimeter around the school. No one was to be able to park or drive up anywhere near the school. No one was to enter the school except through the front door after being buzzed in upon giving identification. When they entered they could only come in about 8 feet to the front office. 

The precautions were taken because no one knew if there were to be scattered attacks around the country.  School bombings would mean great loss and thus schools were thought to be at high risk. We at Shelby Oaks were especially concerned because we were a school comprised of a highly integrated student population. Our students were from 18 countries and spoke 22 different languages. We had a good sized community of Muslim families and we were worried for their safety. We were worried they would be targeted by mad, non-thinking people. 

It was the only time I ever felt scared in this country, at my job, for so many children and for the loss of security my child would feel growing up from that point on in his life. America had never been attacked on its own soil by outside forces, except for Pearl Harbor. While outraged at the Japanese then, Americans still held to the belief that the mainland was impenetrable.  The attack 9/11/01 on the WTC took that security from us all. 

Air travel changed. Homeland Security was organized. There are many new restrictions, regulations and procedures, all as a result of that one day. Families were torn apart. The skyline changed. Terror and destruction became personal. Our naivety was shattered. 

Already I see an awareness and a much larger world view in my own son than I ever had at his age. At 20 years old I would hear the evening news as my grandfather listened to it or I sometimes watched it if I was at my mom's and we were eating dinner in the den. Otherwise, I was clueless. In contrast, Jonathan intentionally gobbles up news programs, world financial standings, Internet news headlines and documentaries daily.  He knows the names and locations of small, ever-changing countries in the Middle East, their leaders and their political views. All places I had never paid any attention to or even heard about except maybe during the Olympics.

At his age these countries, any country outside of America, was so distant to me that they were literally a part of an intangible other world. They were a part of the world that I occasionally saw on tv, but that didn't affect my daily life. It's not so for Jonathan and his generation. He is connected through Internet communication with people in this other world. He is not outside it. It is not intangible. He is a world citizen and not just an American that sometimes acknowledges the rest of the world. 

I don't know which is personally better - my blissful ignorance or his fully immersed awareness. The saying is that knowledge is power, but as a mother I feel some sorrow that he was not shielded from the world awhile longer than 10 years old.  

All the churches, communities and politicians are participating in remembrance ceremonies today. Our family has watched the documentaries this week of what happened and the rebuilding of Ground Zero. There is not enough that can be said or expressed about this tragedy. There are reverberating effects still occurring from 9/1/01 because families are still in pain and people are gone from our lives. How long and how deep does the attack really go? I would say it lasts forever and goes into depths we cannot imagine, yet. 

Today America is in a new dawning of vigilance and awareness. Ten years ago today we lost many good citizens and we lost our grand sense of peace and security. Our children lost their world naivety. However, on this day ten years ago America became the leader in the fight on world terrorism and we all renewed our personal citizenship and faith in this country. 

May God grant His peace to the surviving families of all lost in the tragedy of 9/11/01 and God bless this wonderful country. 

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