Memories of 9/11 by an American
I was at home, staying away from the office, getting needed time and space to work on an upcoming jury trial, when my wife came into my office saying “the world trade center has been attacked.”
I had to shake the woolies out of my head and shift gears, for I was deep in the facts of the case, and had no clue what she was talking about. I carried my materials with me and sat down in my LazyBoy in front of the TV in the bedroom. One of the twin towers was smoking about two thirds of the way up, and the announcer frantically chattered about a plane running into the building.
I thought it was novel that an airliner had gone off course and hit the building. My legal mind immediately thought of the damage lawsuits of the people on the plane and those injured in the building---and the claim the building owner had against the airline.
There was lots of talk, but no knowledge of anything about what really happened. I continued concentrating on my case, interrupted from time to time by the announcer giving updates, with the picture of the buildings continued on the screen. At the time, there were no available photos of the plane approaching and striking the building. That came later.
Then another plane hit the other building. That got my attention, and I am sure it was then that those who should know about such things sat up in red alert. This was no accident!
I had most of my attention from then on riveted on the TV, watching the two fantastic buildings with ugly smoking wounds in their sides, trying to visualize what was happening there. This was not commonplace news!
There before my eyes, building number one seemed to shrink downward for a moment, then, in seconds, it simply folded in on itself and collapsed in a smoking heap. I felt something hit me in my gut. I couldn’t breathe for a moment. It was a physical shock within me. I had no idea what had happened, except that thousands were dying, all at once, and there was a simultaneous cry of the dying in that instant that hit me like a blow. It hit me spiritually, but it felt like a physical thing.
We are all connected whether we know it or not; our de-evolution makes us think we are lonely islands, but beneath we are joined. Not since Nagasaki or Hiroshima have so many humans lost their lives all at once. I felt an immense rush of surprise, fear then sadness coming from that crashing building. One person dying is one thing. Thousands dying at the same instant, not having a clue what is happening, is another. It was a cry of despair that could and should have been heard around the world.
Later, after the second building fell, when I felt the same thing, I realized what it was. I recalled Obi-Wan-Kinobe in the Star Wars movie, when the peaceful planet Alderaan was totally destroyed by the Death Star. He doubled over in intense pain, sensing the death of millions all at once---saying there was a disturbance in the force, instantly knowing that the planet was no more and all the beings on it were dead.
If I had not been totally convinced of the fact that there is a connexity in the brotherhood of man, of man the spirit, then this was ultimate proof. Many others felt it too, and had no name for it, and it generated fear and anger rather than understanding of the nature of the loss. It generated anger in me too, a gripping futile anguish of the descent of man into an abyss of despair.
Then there was a coalescing of the human spirit like I have never seen in my lifetime. Americans came together as one. Flags sprang up everywhere. There were marches. TV spectaculars with celebrities singing patriotic songs. I remember a stage filled with celebrities singing America The Beautiful, with Willie Nelson right in the front with his laconic nasal twang---and I could see America shining through, rising from the ashes, being one. I actually cried, and cry again in the memory of that coming together, which we should and can do even now.
We are approaching the anniversary of that horror. Again we should stand tall, we should come together and link our living spirits with a dedication to be one as Americans and know who and what we are. We are free yet. We can pull ourselves out of the despair that was born of this event. We sensed vulnerability for the first time as a nation. For at no time since the revolution have we had incursion on our shores of a foreign power, and in this case a totally foreign philosophy.
Once again I want to feel that surge of pride and power that I felt ten years ago when we came together and sang America The Beautiful. And this time I feel we can, and should, on the brink of a chance to change back to American values that we have lost during these past ten years, bow our necks and say “enough.” I am an American.
When I was in high school I had an after dinner speech that I won first prize two years in a row in speech tournaments called “I am Proud To Be An American.” I spoke with six different dialects and impersonated six singers---Vaughn Monroe, Billy Ekstine, The Ink Spots, Bing Crosby, Frankie Laine. I told how precious being an American was through the voices of those new immigrants. That was a time when being an American was a given. It was expected. We were all thoroughbred Americans in 1952. Over the past fifty years we have become something else, something that welfare and political expediency and political correctness have eroded our ability to speak, our pride and our patriotism. We must now rise again and hold our heads up as Americans with a grim determination not to lose our precious gift of freedom.
The polling booth is our weapon. Lock and load: Ready, aim, vote!
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