September 11, 2011
Thoughts I Struggle Over on 9/11
Posted by Steph
I sit here, 9/11/2011, 10 years after our lives were changed forever after we were attacked by terrorists on our own soil. Memories flood my mind and heart: arriving at my part-time job at the local Mall after sitting (completely unaware) in my morning college classes as a sophomore; hearing of the planes hitting the World Trade Center; the Mall being evacuated; with heart-racing, driving home listening to whatever I could on the radio; spending the day glued to the television; watching the Towers collapse; taking a walk in the afternoon and finding it eerie that there were no planes flying above; wondering if my cozy suburban life was in danger; knowing this would change things forever.
I sit here, with coverage rolling on my TV, catching glimpses of what happened the day. I am amazed at how different I feel now that I am a parent about the Event: I can't stop thinking how scared I would have been, knowing I would have to protect 2 small children. How would I have explained it to them? How would I have kept the safe if we were in danger? Kids change everything.
And yet, as I sit here, I find myself struggling over today. These thoughts have been plaguing me:
~ Is it commemorative to have constant coverage running on many channels today? Are we honoring the memory of that day? Or is it masochistic? I, along with every other American, agree that 9/11 was a monumental, life-altering (nation-altering) day in our history. Absolutely. And yet, to show over and over the footage from that day...to relive the events...it is chilling. Planes crashing. Buildings burning. People frantic. Bodies falling from buildings. Dust billowing. Humans perishing. Is it wrong? Is it morbid for us to be glued to these images, to be brought back to those events? We would never ask a victim of rape or abuse to relive the events they experienced.
Or is it therapeutic? Are people able to cope with and process what they lived through? Are they able to grow and move on? This is how we commemorate, honor and comes to terms with what we have endured.
I'm just conflicted. And not sure.
~ I am not one to share political views. Partially because I don't like the controversy. Partially because I often don't know where I politically stand or how I politically feel about many things. Our belief system, as individuals, is built over time. And it is ever-evolving. As I was watching some footage from 9/11 today, I was struck how our immediate response that very day (as a government, as journalists, as a community) was to retaliate. To make those who hurt us hurt as well.
And I struggle with that sentiment. I'm not sure why.
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we'd never fought back. If we quietly and strongly rose up out of the dust at Ground Zero like a phoenix, and carried on with our lives. I'm not sure how I feel about war. I honestly can't say whether I believe that it is right or wrong. Perhaps it comes down to that war is like a real-life game of Risk: if you don't fight back, the next player keeps taking over your territory until you are obsolete. Perhaps you have to fight back to survive and keep playing the game.
I just don't know.
Perhaps I would have very definitive and opposite thoughts if I had a loved one who was in the World Trade Center that day, or the Pentagon or any one of those planes that went down. I hear the fear in the screams as the Towers go down. I see the panic as bodies run. My blood runs cold as I hear the stories of survival, the cell phone calls to loved ones before taking back a plane that was taken over.
My heart goes out to the heroes who responded that day, rescuing people, spending hours and days and weeks (many giving their lives) scavenging debris for signs of life - and yet Congress refuses to pay the medical bills they are wracking up as a result of their selfless decision to respond and serve. As the sister and sister-in-law of two Capitol Police Officers (who became officers years after 9/11), I am sick over the idea of, "What if they were there that day?" I am distraught over the thoughts of "What if it were my child? My husband?"
I have no answers.
But hear me say this: these thoughts, these struggles, do not make me Un-American.
They make me human.
I'm not sure what my goal is in writing this post. I'm not sure if my beliefs will ever evolve enough to come to a conclusion on exactly how to live, to think, to react, to believe. But as I sit here on this somber day, meditating and struggling and wondering and reliving, I know this:
Life is precious. However hard it is, whatever we are going through, it is precious. So I want to appreciate it. I want to live life to the fullest. I want to hold my loved ones a little bit tighter, love them a little more deeply.
And I hope we can journey together to seek answers, grace and forgiveness.