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.