It's so hard to believe that it's been ten years since we woke up to the images of what Hell on Earth looked like. Pretty much every single person who was alive then remembers exactly where we were & exactly what we were doing when we first received the breaking news. I wanted to share a bit about where I was & why it had such a huge impact on my life.
On September 11, 2001 I was a patient at Baptist East in Memphis, TN. I'd been there since being admitted on June 19th. I had been in a coma, had my legs amputated below the knee & was still recovering from all the damage Meningococcal Meningitis had done to my body. My mom actually had the TV on when the first plane hit but I was still asleep. Because the previous few days had been rough on me, Mom didn't wake me up when it happened. Of course, at the time, we (America) still weren't sure the plane hitting the North Tower hadn't been a tragic accident. I remember waking up & seeing the North Tower with smoke coming out of the top. I'd only been awake for a few minutes when I looked up to see the South Tower get hit. I remember not really being able to grasp what was going on. Luckily, I was on 2 REALLY strong pain medications & another med for anxiety. I don't know if I'd of been able to handle seeing the images of that day had I not been completely doped up out of my mind. I do remember the nurses having to give me a bit more Ativan that day to keep me calm. Of course, we watched the coverage all day & well into that night. I remember the nurses coming in my room more frequently that day so that they could watch the TV with us.
For me, 9/11 didn't just represent a day of horror, tragedy, unknown heroes & the perseverance of our country. For me, the tragedy represented what was about to be an entirely different world. I knew that I would finally be going home in the next couple of weeks & of course, when I went into the hospital on 6/19/01, although I was just barely alive, aside from the disease attacking my body I was still a "normal" 19 year old. I was about to be released into an entirely new world that had never existed. Not only would it be the post-9/11 world, it would be a world that I would have to learn to do basic, everyday things all over again. I'd have to learn to walk, write, put on makeup & drive all over. It was such a scary, vulnerable feeling. Just 3 1/2 months before, none of these issues had even been thought of. I remember almost being hesitant about having to go home. I'd come to feel safe in the hospital. I kind of felt like as long as I stayed in the hospital, this new existence I was so afraid of didn't really have to exist.
Anytime I see the images of the 9/11 attacks, not only am I taken back to the horror of that day's events, I'm taken back to the horror I was dealing with in my own personal life. Even with all that was going on at that time, I know that I am still so lucky. Unlike so many others all over the world, I didn't lose any family or close friends. I can't even imagine what it must be like to watch those towers fall over & over, each time feeling as if you're watching the final seconds of your husband or wife or son or daughter's life. I don't know how the loved ones of the passengers on United 93 can even look at a plane without thinking about what the people on the flight went through. Of course, I know the family members of the United 93 passengers have to feel a kind of pride most people will never know. I'd imagine anyone who lost someone on that day feels a great deal of anger but I also assume there's a great deal of pride they must feel too.
I've heard it said so many times that one day, 9/11 will just become another day, much like December 7th has now become just another day. (if you don't know what happened 12/7/1941, get your history books out!) Although I do understand how people can feel that way, I don't think that's going to happen for a long time. Unlike the attacks of Pearl Harbor, there are 1000s & 1000s of images & recordings from the day of the 9/11 attacks. Also, unlike the attack of Pearl Harbor, the world had never seen these kind of attacks carried out before. I think if we ever live in a world where seeing a 100+ story building crumble to the ground within seconds becomes something that doesn't completely strike terror into people, it's just time for Judgement Day to hurry up & come. I realize that the day of these attacks is not the most pleasant thing to discuss with children but I do wish more parents would do just that. We need to teach children of future generations about all of the heroes who came to be on this great day of tragedy. We need to make kids want to be more like the passengers of United 93 and the emergency responders/port authority officers of NYC & less like one of the Kardashian sisters!
I think one more thing people need to start realizing is that hating all Muslims is in no way helpful to honoring the people we lost on this day! I seriously doubt all of the victims of that day are up in Heaven hoping that we start spitting at Muslims & setting their mosques on fire. All that does is piss the members of the Taliban off even more & then they want to attack us even more. The vast majority of Muslims in the world not only don't hold the same extreme beliefs as the terrorists do, they don't support the Taliban either. There were a lot of innocent Muslims killed in the 9/11 attacks. Hate will never be the answer to solving any of the problems in the world. All it does is add fuel to the fire. The more hate we see being spread in this world, the worse we see the conditions of the world become.
When I attended Mass this afternoon, I was so happy with the message the priest had. I admit there are a couple of things I take issue with when it comes to the Catholic Church but the one thing I absolutely LOVE about it is that the priests are so serious when it comes to teaching love, not hate. I honestly believe if you belong to a religion that teaches you that unless someone has your exact religious views, you should treat them like they're below you, you need to give some VERY SERIOUS consideration to leaving that religion... ASAP! Jesus was supposed to represent the deepest kind of love mankind has ever seen. He did NOT teach hate. EVER! He was even able to forgive the men who tortured & killed him. He was forgiveness!! Today's church bulletin included the following statements: "This weekend is a most appropriate time to reflect on forgiveness. Ten years after the 2001 attacks, many of us still harbor anger and hatred towards those who perpetrated the attacks as well as innocent Muslims who had nothing to do with them. Yet, as today's readings remind us, how can we expect God to forgive our sins when we harbor vengeance toward others who have wronged us?". The bulletin also contained this paragraph: "On September 7, 2010, U.S. bishops and interfaith leaders met "to denounce categorically derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed against America's Muslim community... All acts of intolerance aimed at a religious community should find no place in our world, let alone in our nation which is founded on the principle of religious freedom." For that reason alone, I love the Catholic church!
If we want to truly honor the lives lost on 9/11, we need to remember to be kinder to others & to love our neighbors. Being hateful accomplishes nothing and it's as if you're giving a part of yourself to the terrorists and allowing them to win. I personally want to thank every single NYC emergency responder, living and dead, who came to the towers to save lives and help others on 9/11. I want to the thank the courageous passengers on United 93 who were able to, by sacrificing their own lives, save many others from an attack. (it's believed they were heading to The Capitol Building) Thank you to Rick Rescorla, Frank DeMartini, & Pablo Ortiz who saved over 2,775 people (just those 3 men alone saved that many people!) from the attacks on the Twin Towers, ultimately, sacrificing themselves. Thank you to the many other everyday, ordinary people who on 9/11 became heroes. Thank you to the men and women of the military who have fought and continue fighting the war on terrorism. Also, thank you to Father Mychal Judge (aka Saint Mychal & the Saint of 9/11). His actions that day (as well as his life before 9/11) have made him one of my personal heroes. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the people who lost loved ones on that day.
I'm not a big country music fan but I think this is a beautiful song!
|1 of my biggest inspirations: Father Mychal Judge, FDNY Chaplin, killed on 9/11/01|