I woke up the morning of September 11th, 2001 to find the Chemlawn man sitting in the living room with my dad, watching the news intently. Not speaking, not averting their eyes from the TV when I entered the room, and certainly not discussing the lawn.
"What's going on?" I said.
"A small-engine plane crashed into the side of a building," Dad said.
"Weird..." I said, thinking it was even weirder that the Chemlawn guy was sitting in my living room watching TV with my dad.
My 17-year old brain didn't process the information for a while. It when I was pouring myself some cereal when I heard a "Holy shit!" from my dad and the "f" word from the yard guy that I knew there was a legit reason that time seemed to stand still.
"A second plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center. I repeat, a second plane has crashed into the World Trade Center," the news reporter stammered, and they replayed the image over and over, using words like attack and terrorism; words that were not yet in my vocabulary.
I went to school and lesson plans were thrown to the wind as we listened to the radio and watched TV. I remember feeling confused and a little numb. In seminary we just prayed, mostly. I was worried about Shani. She was living in NYC as a nanny. I kept thinking of reasons she might be near or in the WTC. I couldn't think of any logical reasons, but logic isn't my strong point. Finally, after going home and getting word that Shani was okay, I started to think about the victims. All 2,996 of them. During the next several days we learned of the heroes-- the police force, the firemen and paramedics, the amazing people on Flight 93. Flags were everywhere. It was the first time in my life I ever felt truly proud to be an American and a fierce loyalty to my country.
Today is September 11th, 2010. It has been nine years, but it feels like yesterday. People always said they will never forget where they were when the towers fell. Today when I logged into Facebook I expected a million patriotic status updates. I saw one. Did we forget? Sometimes it's easy to. It's less painful, after all. And they want us to. There is no more talk of the War on Terror, only hushed political correctness. Ignoring what happened so we won't offend anyone.
Yesterday was the beginning of Eid al-Fatir, one of the most important dates on the Islamic calendar. This year, Eid, which follows the lunar calendar, began on September 10. Though many American Muslims celebrate the holiday for only one day, the holiday lasts for three, awkwardly straddling the September 11 anniversary. In some parts of the country, religious leaders had announced plans to scale back holiday celebrations for fear of public upset. It is sad that the Muslim community has to think about that, due to no actions of their own, but those of radicals, but I appreciate their sensitivity. I think my religious leaders would do the same thing. I only hope their sensitivity can lend itself to the issue of building a mosque near ground zero. Constitutionally, they should be able to build it wherever they want, but, like I said, I hope they reconsider for the sake of sensitivity.
My grandparents call Japanese people "Japs." It bothers me. I tell them it's highly inappropriate and offensive. Once, my grandma explained to me that they were hurt by Pearl Harbor and that it still stings. She said I couldn't understand. That was before 9/11. Post 9/11 I still don't understand. Blanketing is not okay. The Muslim religion does not teach violence...only radical Muslims believe in that. I tried to explain that to my grandma, comparing it to mormons and the RLDS who practice polygamy, which we do not believe in. It didn't work. I don't want to follow the sentiments of my grandparents. As Americans, I believe the best way to honor our country is to stand up for those principles that this country was founded on. One of them being religious freedom. How amazing is it to be part of this great melting pot? But at the same time, we cannot and should not forget the attack on our country made by al-Qaeda.
My intent is not to spur anger and hurt and stir up "old feelings" or prejudices, for that matter, only to honor those who we lost, those who fight for our country, those who bravely served and continue to do so. Take time to think about them today. Read some articles. Even wikipedia. Watch Flight 93, or Remember Me. (Bonus because Robert Pattison is in it.) Be a little nicer to people today. Fly an American Flag. Be proud to be an American. Heck, sing the song even.