Sunday, September 11, 2011

Statement Nine on 9/11

WFS Statement 9 reads, "The past is gone forever. No longer will I be victimized by the past. I am a new person." Today is the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, when thousands of people died because of hatred and intolerance. The television is full of somber ceremonies in remembrance of those who were killed, social media abuzz with sad and sometimes angry comments and memories. Yet I look at Statement Nine and wonder, when is it too much? When do we pass from honoring an event into allowing ourselves to remain stuck in victimization?

I can detail my thoughts, movements and actions of that day almost as if it happened yesterday. I was awakened by my partner's phone call to tell me a light plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Since the place she worked didn't have a television, she asked me to turn on the news and fill her in. I saw the second plane on the screen and knew right away that this was no small plane, nor even a cargo plane. My Air Force background allowed me to recognize a commercial passenger jet right away, even from a shaky distance. I remember the feeling of dread as understanding that someone was intentionally crashing airliners filtered through my still groggy brain.

A friend of ours had a sister working at the Pentagon. She drove to my house and we sat and stared at the TV as she tried frantically to reach her by phone. Finally, a call came in: Her sister said she was fine and going to the hospital to be checked out. Only later did we discover she was not fine, she had been only a couple of offices away from the crash center, and was seriously injured. That day became a blur; phone calls - is so and so flying today? Did Aunt M decide to drive instead? Thank God. The news non-stop in the background, the eerie silence that seemed to fall as all air traffic was grounded, as if we could hear the lack of jet engines in the sky.

I was still drinking then, but somehow I don't recall drinking that day. It seemed as though it would be too dangerous, that even in our tiny town on the Florida coast it was necessary to remain hyper-vigilant for some attack that could spring at any moment. The day wore into several, and into weeks, and finally the dull realization that life had forever changed became all too real.

Ten years later, I can't help but wonder how great a victory the terrorists won that day. It seems that we still live in fear, that we surrender our basic civil rights for the pretense of security. I see how people look at those who appear Middle Eastern even now, with fear and a glint of hatred in their eyes. It saddens me; it feels as if that day released all the pent-up bigotry and intolerance in us as Americans. I almost feel as though our country DID fall that day. We are divided, angry and tearing at each other with a viciousness that can only bode ill for the future of us all.

The past is gone forever. It is good to remember, to honor, even to reflect in sadness. It is not good, however, to remain stuck in a victim mentality. 9/11 was a crime against us all, but the vast majority of us were not directly affected by it. For us to continue to let the negativity churned up by the attacks to affect us only prolongs healing that must occur. We must move forward from fear and distrust, must not allow ourselves to be victimized over and over by events a decade old.

I choose to release the past. I will remember and honor, but not with tears or anger. I will instead embrace the future with laughter and joy, fighting terrorism by refusing to allow the acts of the hateful to change me. Love wins in the end over fear, if you just open yourself to it. Wallow in sadness and worry, remain stuck in a victim mentality, and evil triumphs.

No comments:

Post a Comment