Twenty Years

Why do they hate us?

On September 11th, 2001 my son had barely begun the 8th grade. He was looking forward to seeing his friends, playing basketball on the middle school team and getting to know his teachers. He had no inkling that 8th grade would also coincide with the beginning of a new reality in his world and the world around him. Neither did anyone else. The weather was perfect here in our small corner of the northeastern United States. A day I will never forget.

He returned to school on September 12th, 2001 and when I asked him what happened, he told me a teacher tried to answer this question…

Why do they hate us?

Did his class of 13 year olds get an answer? I don’t remember, but I doubt they got more than a cursory history lesson of Middle East conflicts and American involvement and years of political back and forth. The images of smoke and fire and exploding buildings crashing to the ground were imprinted in memory. Connections to some vague far away decades old horribleness…impossible for most adults to comprehend…never mind children. Imagining hate coalescing into such evil and devastation…even harder.

Why do they hate us?

I spent the better part of this morning – 20 years later – watching the televised ceremonies held in New York City, Arlington, VA and Shanksville, PA. The heartbreak and tears and emotions still so raw. The memories of how we all came together as a country reminded me of how I miss that sense of connection now.

Last week I returned from a trip to Washington DC to see my children and grandchildren. As I moved through Logan Airport in Boston I looked around and remembered…this was where two 9/11 flights began their paths to destruction. I try not to think about it, but it’s everywhere. I guess after 20 years we are all used to the changes to keep us safer. But I’m old enough to vividly remember the “before.”

I can’t begin to make much sense of any of it, but I do wonder if we will ever be able to fully answer the question…why do they hate us? And, if we could, then what?

Below is my post from September 11, 2018…remembering…

The Day Everything Changed

September 11, 2001

In my lifetime, this is the day everything changed.

We are being attacked!
I heard my coworker yelling as she ran down the hall past my office. I worked in a hospital at the time and yelling in the halls was unusual. And disturbing.
Planes are hitting buildings in New York City!

It has become one of those awful “where were you?” moments. The horrific alteration of reality that gets seared in memory.

Must call family. Must connect. My daughter – a college sophomore on the east coast. My son in the 8th grade. My husband at home. My parents called him. My siblings. My friend in DC. My friend in NYC. The need to wrap oneself around loved ones as we watched the horror, the fires, the smoke, the pain unfold on television – over and over and over and over.  Hope draining away as the hours dragged on.

Emails flew through cyberspace.  Are you okay? Are you okay? My good friend who lived close to NYC frantic to help in some way. A doctor, she made ready to go to Ground Zero. But there was nobody to save. Was on call for helping at hospitals but no living to care for…she wrote to me.

Such profound loss.
Since then life has been divided: Before 9/11 and After 9/11.
A whole generation of children are now growing up under the cloud of what happened that bright sunny day in 2001. Its aftermath. Its fallout.

My heart breaks, still, for those thousands of innocents who died that day. And for their families. And for the first responders. And their families.

Soon after that day in 2001, the nation was called upon to light candles together in remembrance and solidarity. It was a time of unspeakable tragedy and for a brief time…there was unity. We stood on our small deck with a candle. A moment of silence.

I drove to work a few days later and saw a big American flag newly attached to the top of a huge crane – at the construction site for the hospital’s addition project. Similar to the ones at the WTC.

~~~

As a child, I hid under my school desk. Practice drills. Crouched low with head down. In case we were attacked. Then we weren’t. And life went on much as before.

That won’t work anymore.

This morning, the news networks held a moment of silence at 8:46 am to mark when the first plane hit.

Today is a Tuesday, as it was in 2001.

We must never forget.

21 thoughts on “Twenty Years

  1. As a species we have the ability to stop all the hate, the wars, the terrorism, the entitlement…but for some reason we don’t and that leaves me with a profound sadness. Your post certainly gives us much to reflect on.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m on the fence about “we must never forget.” I’m not sure what we should remember. The outrage? the attack? the victims (yes)? How we were “before”? All my childhood my mom made a point of us remembering Pearl Harbor (but I couldn’t, not having been born yet) and my mom’s generation (or her mom’s?) Remembered the Main! We’re all about remembering. And who we were before? I’m not sure. Probably who we are today existed in who we were before or GWB wouldn’t have been able to harness all that anger into an unjustifiable military offensive. I remembered fighting “Communism” — an ideology? And fighting “terrorism”? I kept hearing my dad telling me not to fight the bullies who terrorized my little brother because I was “giving them what they wanted.” I honestly hate the big flags. I hated all of that “patriotic” noise and I hate its echoes today. To me, love of country is caring about it to work toward something better than it is right now. When I hear the “Judeo-Christian” thing invoked by “them” I think, “Do unto others covers both of those; is THAT what we’re doing?”

    I’m just sticking with my plumber’s ideology at this point. “If we can’t be nice to each other what’s the point of living?” I don’t think I’m capable of going beyond that and even THAT is pretty difficult sometimes.

    Sorry for the sermon ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we must never forget what happened so that the next generation might learn from it. Perhaps learn the why and how to prevent the evil that led up to it. Without another unjustifiable war. And see how people came together like I’ve never seen in my lifetime. See what IS possible. See the bravery and selfless sacrifice. Perhaps that’s naively idealistic, but it’s the only way I see to squeeze out some hope for the future.
      I remember the “Communist Threat” as an amorphous dark cloud when I was growing up, but never fully understood it in any layered way (other than it plus the Domino Theory supposedly justified Vietnam). In order to work towards something better, those in the future need to know why they need to work hard.
      I like your plumber’s ideology too. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will never forget the kindness of strangers in a supermarket in San Diego. That’s typical for here, but not for there. Suddenly we were all so valuable to each other and now we fight over wearing masks and getting vaccinations. I guess I’m pretty sad today. Tomorrow will be better. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The kindness of strangers is rare these days, but when it happens I’m reminded of how it can still be possible. It stood out 20 years ago.
        I’m pretty sad too. It’s been that kind of day for a while. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Such powerful words you’ve shared for us to reflect upon. I remember those drills in the hallways!
    My kids were 9 and 6 at the time. At the school that they were attending, they had a jungle gym called the Twin Towers. To them, their innocence about the day brought us a bit of hope after the tragedy when I heard them say, “No, our twin towers weren’t taken down, I saw them today and played on them.” I remain hopeful that hate won’t win.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a horribly tragic day and you’re right – the ripple effects of it are still everywhere around us. I found myself sitting on the porch on Saturday, staring off into space, and just mourning. Remembering. And praying we can find some way forward. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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