Posts Tagged ‘September 11th


Waiting for September 12th

My friend hasn’t slept through the night in about two months.  My husband’s ulcer has flared up.  My coworker is completely despondent.  I cannot seem to hold food down.  Nobody is willing to put a guarantee on what may happen tomorrow.  First I thought it was just me.  I usually live in the worst-case scenario.  But it is not just me.  Not at all. 

The bumper stickers are calling us to be our 9/12 self.  The idea is that we live as the best American we can, like we did on that day when we all resolved to live a life of purpose.  That’s exactly how we should be living.  I would guess that if we all lived in that mind set, we would not be in the position we are today.

But here we are.  Entitlement, greed, and quick fixes have brought us to the brink of economic disaster.  It’s so much more than that.  Everything we take for granted – our national security, our safety, innovation, the environmental debate, even the abortion controversy – will lie forgotten if our economy fails.  So we replace our dreams and the hopes we have for our children with Tums and Tylenol PM.  What we did not notice, because it crept in behind the distraction of the holidays, is that we cannot be our 9/12 selves because we are re-living 9/11 in slow motion.  It is as though Good Morning America has been doing a frame-by-frame since the first plane came into sight.  Slowly, with time to contemplate and fear, we are watching our world change forever.  And, once again, we are not in control.  It is being done to us and we are but spectators, anticipating impact, just waiting for the frames to speed up.  On 9/11, it happened fast.  I remember looking around at every intersection on my way to work.  Everyone was stunned; at one light, all six lanes of traffic sat through a green.  Then at work all of us speculated, some cried.  Many checked on loved ones.  Nobody worked.  We all held our breath and listened for news instead.  Then we went home to our families, held them close, thanked God, and planned for a better tomorrow.  That’s when America united. 

I learned the true meaning of Joy on the evening of September 11th.  There were flags everywhere.  Donations were flying in before anyone even knew where to send them and the media had nothing disparaging to say.  In fact, many talking heads were teary.  Joy is not synonymous with happiness.  Joy is the assurance that trials are temporary.  The pain may linger, but with it comes the sweetly honed pleasure of the memories left from the good times and the hope for tomorrow. 

Hope.  Hope is a strong word.  It is what gives Americans their strength.  There is no nation on earth that offers the promise this country does.  Even now that we are bruised, we can still rest in a hope we take for granted.  But right now, right at this moment, we are watching that plane.  We are wondering if we get to hold onto our hope.  What we need to do, to move on and become our 9/12 selves, is re-evaluate hope.  In this time, we cannot count put our hope into anything that we cannot control.  It has to be personal and we have to be strong enough to hold on.

We may be holding on for September 12th, but it is actually here.  We may feel downtrodden and fearful and just barely American.  But we need to remember something.  This weekend, people will be married.  Right now, a baby is crying for the very first time.  There is a teenage girl talking to her best friend about her first kiss.  A boy in second grade is tugging the hair of the girl in front of him.  Next month, we may not be able to buy a Chevrolet and we may even cancel trips to Disney World this summer, but life still carries on.  No matter the nation we leave to our children, the human spirit is the true gift we leave behind.  If we can show them joy in the midst of adversity, they will grow into joyous lives.  Fear and dread are far outweighed by our capacity to love.  Where love lives, so does hope.  Where hope lives, so does greatness.


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