Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nine-Eleven Plus Six

You’re going to see and hear and read a lot about 9/11 today.
I want you to soak it all in.

Six years after the cowardly attacks on civilized society by Al Qaida in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, the rawness is beginning to scab over. It seems some Americans with thicker skin, shorter memories, and harder skulls, have taken to bashing our politicians for the horrific events on that fateful day.
They need to be fitted with tin hats, too.

The reality is that our nation was attacked by a fanatical enemy that observes no rules of war, is fearless in his execution of all plans, and remorseless of innocents caught in the crossfire.

For my friends, Greg and Lauren Manning, the date is a distant one on the calendar, but fresh as yesterday in their minds. Lauren is still mending from unimaginable burns sustained when a fireball of jet fuel blew out of an elevator shaft in WTC-1, engulfing her in flames. Their love for one another is what sustained her through the months of agony and pain…plus the prayers and cares of friends, and some pretty amazing doctors, too.

Their ordeal makes the little inconveniences we must deal with in a post-9/11 world pale in comparison. That doesn’t mean I still don’t get incensed over the ridiculous rituals we must endure to get on an airplane these days, or into a public facility, or even attend a high school football game.

The bastards that hit us on 9/11 found the one weakness that they could easily exploit: Our boundless capacity to trust people, befriend strangers, and think the best of our fellow man until proven otherwise. Guess we got plenty of proof that there are people who should not be trusted.

We have learned to doubt, to question, to suspect, to distrust.
We have learned to pack light, dress loosely, and clip our nails before leaving home.

We have endured x-rays, metal detectors, and chemical sniffers at the courthouse, the White House, and in some extreme cases, the school house.

We are not a nation in fear, but in a heightened state of awareness.
In God we still trust, but we lock our cars, carry more mace, and in Texas, are licensed to pack heat.

Like Americans after Pearl Harbor, we are a nation of innocence lost with the innocents lost. Our Day of Infamy came early in the new Century, and will follow us who witnessed it with our eyes to the grave with an unspeakable sense of loss, outrage, and un-avenged abhorrence of those who engineered the strike on our homeland. And I think the next person to says to me “we got what we deserved” will need to move quickly away from my personal space.

How do we heal the scars and the scabs from the horrors of the past six years? Like those war-weary Americans of generations past, we pick ourselves up, flick off the dust of pulverized buildings, and rebuild on the exact spot a lasting memorial to those who died, and an inspiration to those who remain behind.

I ran across a poem a few weeks back, written by Marion Mahoney in 2005, called “A Lament for 9/11.” I tucked it away in a folder to share with you this week:

The unsuspecting went to slaughter.
From a clear September sky.
The day held no forewarning.
Of the way they were to die.

Evil dressed in sunshine
On silver wings emplaned
And with the blood of innocents
The face of Islam stained.

The ugly head of hatred
Unmasked in fiery death.
Bodies falling, souls ascending
Born aloft on angel's breath.

Where for them the promise of today?
Where for them a bright tomorrow?
Vanished like the towers
In smoke and endless sorrow.

Yet from this sacrificial ground
A freedom tower shall arise
Our collective consecration
Of the souls immortalized.

On this, the sixth anniversary of 9/11/2001, let us remember the fallen without despair, respect the men and women who are defending us in foreign lands, and thank God in Heaven that the fight has been taken to them, instead of waging the war against terrorism on American soil.

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