Friday, 11 September 2009

SEPTEMBER 11--HOW TRAGEDY SHAPED OUR WORLD

It’s been eight years now. Everyone knows exactly what I’m referring to: the day 911took on a whole new meaning other than the number we dial in America for emergency services. A day none of us around the world will ever forget. “A day that will live in infamy”—as FDR said of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

This attack, sixty years later, was as stunning, as provocative—and as heartbreaking—as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in many ways. Although they both happened on American soil, these events affected us and our allies alike: they made us fighting mad at the senseless injustice that was done; lives of so many snuffed out in an instant. Although the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 was a tragedy with smaller loss of life than the others, it, too, gained world-wide attention.

Recently, one of the masterminds of the Lockerbie hijacking and bombing was released and allowed to go home, to die of his terminal illness. He was met with a hero’s welcome, confetti, cameras and all. I didn’t know anyone who perished in the Lockerbie crash, but I can tell you, watching the circus of that terrorist’s return home, (safely on a plane, I might add), made my blood boil—even after all these years.

What emotions come to us, as humans of reasonable conscience, when a tragedy, such as any of these, occurs? Anger, sadness, loss, and the question, “why?” I don’t pretend to understand the politics and cultural philosophies of some of the countries involved in perpetrating these crimes. They certainly don’t seem to grasp the full extent of their actions. If they did, they’d realize that events such as these only bring the good out in those of us left behind; a banding together, and a determination to survive, in spite of whatever evil they might try to inflict.

Is there anyone who can understand the supposed justification for the motivations that ended in the deaths of nearly three thousand people in those twin towers eight years ago? For those of us who watched in horror and helplessness, the aftermath of these tragedies has ironically brought something decent and good that the terrorists could never have calculated. The willingness to help others, to lend a hand to those in need, to share whatever commodity we possess—whether it be physical, material or emotional—has been magnified one-hundredfold. We have not looked at these events and become mired in the despair that evil has triumphed; we have collectively risen above the action that another human was responsible for—bringing anger, grief and shame in its wake—to the healing of recovery, and becoming collectively better than we were before.

Patriotism runs high after tragedies such as these, being proud of our countries; but it’s a pride that we and others like us have not stooped, and never will, to such acts; nor will we allow those acts to defeat us, and drag us under. After 9/11, we flew flags, proud to be survivors—yet, it our pride stemmed from more than being an American; it came from knowing we were human. The good guys. And we were still here. We had been tested and come through the ‘ordeal by fire’ stronger than before. Our kinship stretched globally with others who shared our disbelief, our horror at what we watched again and again on the news: The planes going into the towers; the plane crashing into the Pentagon, and the plane that a band of heroic passengers kept from completing its intended destructive mission, giving their own lives to defeat that purpose.

Eight years later, most people can tell you where they were and what they were doing when they heard what had taken place in New York City—no matter where they were living in our world.

Our globe has shrunk in these times. Travel and communications have changed, certainly. But our understanding of what it takes to be an ‘everyday hero,’ even as a person who is ‘only’ an observer of these events, has become stronger and more interconnected along with the ‘shrinking globe.’ Our hatred of injustice has become more universal with the media and communications advancements that bring global events into our living rooms via television or computer—alongside our empathy and love for our fellow man. Events such as these make every person that might endure such tragedy, no matter where they may physically live, a brother. A sister. A hero. One of us—the good guys.

So take a moment today, if you will, to remember not only what happened on September 11, 2001, but all of these tragedies: the victims, the survivors, the heroes, the rest of the world who watched and mourned and got angry…and healed stronger than before, better for it all, in spite of what a group of terrorists tried to do to us.

Fly your country’s flag. Thank a policeman or firefighter for their service. Volunteer your time at something. Help someone, somehow. Remember, no matter how small or insignificant you might think your contribution is, you don’t know what it means to someone else. Be one of the good guys, and know you aren’t alone.

And never forget.

Never, ever forget.

Cheryl Pierson

What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment!

27 comments:

Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Cheryl and Lindsay,
Thank you for this remembrance of what happened on 911 eight years ago. You said it very well. Those of us who watched and survived are stronger, more resolved, and kinder in our actions toward others. I agree, we should NEVER forget.

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Rebecca.

This was one 'from the heart.'
Cheryl

Melinda Elmore said...

Cheryl,

Your blog was so informative. I remember what I was doing on the 9/11/01. I was asleep for I was a 911 dispatcher and at had worked that night before. My husband came rushing into the bedroom and got me up. I had to take a second look at the TV. It was a very sad time at work. A day I will never forget.

Also, I home school my daugher, she was only 3 at the time but now she is 11 and we will discuss this tragic event in detail today.

Have a wonderful day, Cheryl

Walk in peace and harmony,

Melinda

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thank you for posting this, Cheryl.

My thoughts today are with all who have lost loved ones due to all forms of violence - war, terrorism, murder.

Tragic times like these do shape our lives forever.

Cheryl said...

Hi Melinda,

I was a 911 dispatcher, too, during that time! But here in Oklahoma City, of course. Yes, it was so sad at work, and I'm sure your security measures increased just like ours did, overnight--we didn't know what we were dealing with.

Thanks for reading and commenting.
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Lindsay,

I agree, Lindsay--no matter the tragedy, it shapes the world around us, and our individual lives. In our writing it gives us yet another event that we can all relate to, as well, to bring into the stories we are telling. I think so many of these tragedies are so heartrending because they happen to ordinary people like us, and we all think about "what if."
Cheryl

LK Hunsaker said...

Cheryl, beautiful tribute.

The people responsible for the attack will never understand. They do not have the same value for life we do. To them, the most glorious thing they can ever do is be a martyr for their cause (while they use religion as a cause, it is nothing like what the actual Muslim faith teaches and we should remember this, also). We have more value for their lives and the lives of their families than they do. That's a fact.

Hope it's okay to do this, but I've posted photos I took of the Pentagon about a week after the attack on my blog and invite anyone to stop in: http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com

SharonJM said...

Yes, we are stronger.As I sit here,watching family members reading the name of those that were taken to soon. I remember being home and watching TV,not understanding what I was seeing. I had the TV on that morning before work, not a usual occurrence. I went to work in shock and walked into an office in chaos. I still remember the shock and fear. Yet when the decision was made to close the office, we closed it with prayer and those of us who drove tried to insure that all had rides home.
I will never forget!!

Helen Hardt said...

Lovely tribute, Cheryl. I well remember exactly what I was doing that day. May all the heroes and heroines of 9/11 rest in peace.

Helen

Tanya Hanson said...

Cheryl, what a heart-rending, wondrous post. One of the babies killed has our daughter's entire name...it has been eerie hearing it read aloud in tributes, and seeing it on the Memorial Wall at Ground Zero in lower Manhatten. We were all in tears, also seeing the "LAdder 343" monoment to the firefighters who perished.

As a firefighter, my hubby has a deep emotional connection to the event, knowing how his brothers climbed high into hell, surely knowing they'd never come down, helping everybody else get down to safety.

Whew. I get chills and tears just thinking about it again.

Thanks for the reminders.

Savanna Kougar said...

My simple thoughts are on my blog. Blessings to the families.

Cheryl said...

Hi Loraine,

Thanks for leaving your thoughts and comments. I totally agree. They don't have the same values as we do. I went and looked at your pictures. So sad. It's like the Murrah Bombing pictures --I can still look at those and it makes me cry. I have not yet, even after nearly 15 years, been able to bring myself to go downtown to the memorial.

Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Sharon,

It drew you all closer together, as I said in my post, and made you stronger. I'm so glad you shared with us. Even after all these years, it's still important to talk about it and keep those memories alive. Thanks for reading and commenting, Sharon.

Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Helen,

Thank you. Most of the places here in Oklahoma City flew their flags half staff today, but I noticed there were a couple that didn't. That really made me sad. I wanted to go in and tell them they needed to "fix it." LOL

Yes, may they all rest in peace.
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Tanya,

Please tell your husband THANK YOU for all he's done. I know how emotional it must be for him. One of my clearest memories was of some live coverage at the time, where a reporter was asking one of the firefighters some stupid question like "what do you expect to find?" and the guy just gave him this incredulous look, as he was putting on his gear to go in (this was after the 2nd plane hit, but the tower had not fallen yet) and said, "What do YOU think?" He then excused himself and walked away to go inside, and minutes later, the tower fell. I will never forget that as long as I live.

I also saw a story about a group of firefighters that was trapped in a pocket in a stairwell with an elderly woman who couldn't go on. As it turned out, had they moved, they'd have died, but because of her and them staying with her, they lived through it. Amazing stories. Amazing people.

Thanks so much for commenting. I'm sure that does give you chills to hear your daughter's name read!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by, Savanna.
I echo your sentiment, wishing blessings to those families.
Cheryl

LK Hunsaker said...

My town is flying its flags half-staff but my son's school said nothing at all about it. That's sad.

I have my flag up every day of the year, with lights on it overnight.

Cheryl said...

Loraine,

That is very sad about your son's school, but it doesn't surprise me in the least. Anymore, it seems that schools are so worried about upsetting the kids with something they might teach they feel they must always be totally "PC"--I don't get that. IT HAPPENED, and by not recognizing it in some way it makes it seem as if it never did.

Good for you, flying your flag--I wish we had a flagpole but we don't.
Cheryl

MarthaE said...

Hi Cheryl and Lindsey. Cheryl thanks for this great "reminder" post. I remember I was at work and had to get online to see coverage since we didn't have a TV in the office. We were all stunned and shocked of course.
Last night my DH and I watched several hours of coverage. Some really amazing footage. We will never forget.

Cheryl said...

Hi Martha,

Yes, that was a day we will remember forever. Thanks for sharing your memories with us, Martha!

Cheryl

Janice said...

What a wonderful post.

I too remember where I was on that day eight years ago, I was home getting my daughter ready for school and turned on the TV and there it was. I sunk down in a seat and watched with my mouth hanging opened.

My mom called a few minuets late saying one thing, "Are you seeing this?" She didn't need to explain what she meant I knew. "Yes mom, I am."

I think we have since healed as a nation, but some wounds are just too deep to heal properly.

I keep an American flag by my gate, it use to be cloth but over the past eight years many flags have worn out. Now I have a metal one and it may fade but never wear out.

Janice~

Cheryl said...

Hi Janice,

Thanks so much for sharing your memories of that day. I appreciate you stopping by and leaving your comments. It's so important that we remember that day, and the other lives that were lost in other tragedies, as well.

Cheryl

Chelle Cordero said...

Wonderful post and tribute.

I'd like to share my gratitude to all of the police officers, fire fighters and EMS personnel that were there trying to save loves, and in the process many of them were lost as well.

Americans came together from all walks of life to help and support however they could.

My deepest thanks to the soldiers fighting overseas and the emergency personnel who continue to protect our homeland.

Hywela Lyn said...

What a touching post, Cheryl.
We were deeply affected here in the UK as well. I remember a feeling of complete and utter disbelief. I arrived home from work and switche the television on and thought it had been a terrible accident. It took some minutes for it to sink in that this was a violent, premeditated act of terrorism. I've been deeply moved by programmes of the event broadcast on tleevision, and moving stories from survivors and relatives of those who perished.

I share your disgust at the release of the Lockerbie bomber - terrorist's victims don't get the chance to spend their last moments with their loved ones, why should he?

Thank you for the reminder that despite the evil in the world, love and humanity will unite and eventually overcome.

Cheryl said...

Chelle,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. So often, we DO take our "everyday heroes" for granted. The guys who are out there to make things safe for us, and putting their lives at risk are forgotten. I remember a poster one time I saw of a policeman lying beside his patrol car wounded with a masked gunman coming up behind the car. The caption said, "Would you do this job for a million dollars? He does it for a lot less." I have never forgotten that.

It seems that in times of tragedy, our country comes together to help one another, but other countries are there for us, too. There are a lot of "good guys" out there in the world.
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Lyn,

Thanks for your kind words. I know that our friends in the UK were deeply moved by the tragedies we've suffered here--the Twin Towers and even the lesser loss of life in the Murrah Building bombing. In 2001 I was a 911 dispatcher, but left that job to take a position at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. In the museum we had people from all over the world come through to see it, and so many of them commented about the Twin Towers and how sorry they were. It was a tragedy that touched the "human nation"--not just the USA.

Ooohh, that Lockerbie thing--that makes me so angry to even think of it--you're so right--why SHOULD the terrorist be allowed to be with his family? I can't imagine how terrified the passengers on that plane were if they were not instantly killed.

Thank GOD that there are decent people in the world. I wish there were more organizations to channel that for youth AND for adults as well.

Cheryl

Keena Kincaid said...

Beautifully said.