Even as I write this column in the wee hours of Monday morning, I am not thinking of what the new day may hold or what this new week will bring. Instead, I am walking backwards in time, finding myself stopping five years ago to remember the day we now simply call “9/11”.
The feelings of horror, sadness and shock still tinge my soul five years hence. Certain images have been etched into my heart and locked in my brain, never to be forgotten. And yet it is the color of the Fall sky the day after the world changed - that sky is the first thing I see when I look back..
After watching and listening to the news coverage for twenty-four hours, I had walked out into my backyard, needing to escape the sounds and images I was absorbing. I took with me my journal. I remember sitting in a metal lawn chair and furiously writing down everything I had heard and my reactions to what had just happened. I remember looking up, and there above me was the familiar canopy of perfect, blue sky. But it was missing something - jet trails. All planes had been grounded for the first time ever, and the sky was empty and silent.
It was that day - the day after 9/11 - that I realized life as we knew it would never be the same. Like almost every other American, I had grown up insulated from the world at large. I was safe. I was protected. I was innocent and ignorant at the same time. True, I knew that bad things had always happened around this globe we call home, but only once - Pearl Harbor - had the “badness” physically touched us. Then, suddenly, evil came flying straight at us. We experienced it firsthand that morning in September, and it knocked the breath out of our entire nation with its cruelty.
And so, as I sat in my backyard that morning, I felt very vulnerable. My innocence was gone. My sense of security had been stripped away. I was forced to admit that America was no longer a safe haven, protected by the shores of the Pacific and the Atlantic , protected by those imaginary lines we call borders. I had to admit to myself (possibly for the first time in my life) that there are actually people who hate the United States and us, Americans. I know that sounds naïve, but it is true. And I had to sadly admit that “man” can hate with a vengeance that goes beyond the realm of comprehension or possibility.
And yet, it is that day - the day after 9/11 - that I believe we showed the world, and the world of evil, who we really are. Yes, we did sit down for a moment, for after all the breath had been ripped from our chest. And yes, we did gasp for air. But only for a moment. And then we stood up, even with knees wobbly and heart pounding. We took up shovel and pail, we joined forces. We walked into the rubble, and we said prayers that reached to heaven. We were still quaking in our soul, we were frightened and we were dismayed. We wondered “Why?”. We mourned as though it was our own family member who had suddenly been taken from our midst. We cried for what so many had lost in such a short span of time. But…..we stood back up!
I know that the five years between then and now have been rough and rocky for many Americans. And I know that we, the United States , have not always done the right thing in combating the evil and hatred that shattered our world in mere minutes that particular September morning. But, I also know that on the day after 9/11 - with hands outstretched to one another - we rose to our feet! We began walking forward. We did not shrink back in fear. We did not cower in a corner. We did not run and hide. And I pray we never will!
Boise City News