Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blood, Smoke, and Tears

Best Quote I Heard All Day
A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.--Martin Luther King

A soft-minded man has led us down the primrose path. Seven years ago today, as we wept for the lost souls of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Flights 127, 11, and 93, we were all as one, waiting for the leadership that never materialized from a man who spoke loud words of hope and unity that day and then wasted our faith and togetherness as a country. May God forgive him. I don't know that I can. We must regain that faith in ourselves as a country united.

For the past few years, I've written a September 11th entry. It will forever be a day of mourning and remembrance for me, as it should be for all Americans. As I walk by the Hudson River on my way to my Jersey City office, I can never again view the New York skyline with innocent eyes. The eyes of a little girl who was born in New York City, who loved to watch the great liners sail down the Hudson to the sea, danced up and down the sidewalks while her grandmother remonstrated, who stared up at the skyscrapers in total amazement, and who ran the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, looking for the mummies. The city of my birth and my childhood happinesses.

I was thinking about that day in 2001 yesterday on my way to work in JC. And remembering it exactly. Because after all, in my life, there have been too many of these times that have been forever burned into my brain, each with its own cerebral minute-by-minute video. The assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, John Lennon. And the horrifying deaths of 2,974 people on that sunny, magnificent September day.

My day started out like everyone else's, probably. Got up, showered, kissed Jimmy good-bye, and off we both went to work. I was working at the corporate offices of The Chubb Institute at the time, a proprietary computer school system headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, a scant 27 miles from Manhattan. Jimmy had recently started a new job as a marine designer at an engineering firm in Scotch Plains, a fair distance from Parsippany.

My boss, Pat, and I had a very early conference call with a vendor in Baltimore that morning--8:30. We locked ourselves up in his office and started the call. Suddenly, about a half hour into the call, one of our vendor's employees said, "Oh my God, a plane crashed into the World Trade Center." Jesus! I ran out to my desk, where the phone was ringing. It was the wife of my previous boss there, looking for him. She had been watching TV and told me that it looked as if it was an attack, not an accident. Could I find her husband for her and have him call her?

I found her husband glued to a computer, looking at the dreadful first images on the internet. Everyone was wandering around, dazed, frightened, confused. And then the internet was jammed up. When the second tower was hit and then the Pentagon, we were told to leave the building immediately and go home.

The local state highway was jammed with people desperate to get home. I tried to call Jimmy on my cellphone and couldn't get through. I had no idea where he was, whether the attacks were going to continue, and if we were all going to die. The cellphone lines were jammed, too.

When I got home, I called my children, made sure they were safe, and then turned on the TV. Shortly thereafter, Jimmy walked through the door. I cried tears of relief and we sat down together to watch the horror.

In the days after, I watched the widows and bled for them and their children, little realizing that it would be a scant four months before I joined their ranks. To lose a husband was unimaginable. To lose a beloved son, daughter, brother, sister, friend, who had gone to work as innocently as I had that morning, in an inferno that was caused by hatred-driven fanatics, was beyond anyone's comprehension. And still is. At least Jimmy died far more easily. I take comfort from that. Those who lost someone on September 11, 2001, cannot.

So since it is Open Mic Thursday, let's do this:

Share your remembrances and thoughts of September 11, 2001.

Write as much as you'd like. Some days, knitting just doesn't count for much in the scheme of life.

No matter what your beliefs may be, today is a day to speak to your higher power and remember the lost and their families. The politicization of this sacred day by the Republican Party is anathema. As Keith Olbermann said last night in his Special Comment: 9/11 TM. The disgusting video shown at the RNC, calculated to inculcate fear and terror, is indicative of their shabby, opportunistic, Rovian methods. Let's be the Can-Do nation again and rise up against tactics of fear, as a tribute to the dead of 9/11, if nothing else.

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