Saturday, September 11, 2010

The 9/11 post nobody writes

Originally published 2 years ago.

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This is going to be one of those 7th grade homework assignments my kids bring home . They'll show me the assignment outline, a little annoyed, and say "I'm supposed to find out where my parents were when 9/11 happened." They'll be a little bored with the project, and they'll want to just get it over with. "Where were you?" they'll ask. Like the projects we brought home about where our parents were when JFK got shot, they won't really care about the answer, because they won't really understand what it meant.

They'll know there was an attack on America that morning. They'll know that some bad men hijacked four planes. They'll know that two of the airplanes were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, and the third plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. They'll know that the passengers on the fourth plane stopped the hijackers, and that plane crashed into a field.

They'll know the facts. But they won't understand the weight of it.

When I walked into history class that morning, I didn't understand the weight of it either. The TV was on and the first plane had already hit the first tower. When Daniel told me what had happened and that they thought it was a terrorist attack, gave him a half smile and a raised eyebrow.

"You're joking, right?"

Terrorist attacks? Yeah, right. This is the kind of thing that happens in movies. Not the kind of thing that happens on CNN. And definately not the kind of thing that happens in America. We lived in a bubble. A safe bubble, and nobody messed with our safe bubble.

But it seemed that they had. As we watched live as the second tower get hit and the towers eventually fall, I must admit that it still didn't seem real. While they talked about how many were trapped or dead, it still never hit me (not fully even until a few years later) what that meant for the people in New York, for the families of the people who died, and for Americans. It was all foreign and so outside my worldview.

But it changed everything.

First, there was the outburst of patriotism. On every drugstore marquee sign there was a "God Bless America," and an extra patriotic song sung at every sporting event.

Next, we did everything in our power to make ourselves feel safer. Never again would we run and hug our dad when he walked through the terminal at the gate. Never again would we walk through the metal detectors with our shoes on. Never again could we take a bottle of water from the car to the airplane.

A few years later, patriotism gave way to discontent. Discontent with our president, discontent with the gas prices that are uncomfortable but bearable because of how we've been blessed, discontent with our government in general. And crazy sprinkler ladies whine about how the government is putting rainbows in our water (oh man, you have to watch this video, it's so funny.)

And here we are. This seems to be the legacy the terrorists have left us. Discontent.

This wasn't were I had intended to go with this post, but it seems to be where I've ended up.

Stop whining. We should be unbelievably thankful with what we have here.

I do not have to ride the shoulder-to-shoulder packed bus for 3 hours every day, trying to get to work (like my friend in China does) so I can make $2,000 a year. I am blessed to be able to pay the $4 a gallon to fuel the car that I own.

I may not like paying more for milk than I used to, but don't have to go without, or buy powdered milk instead, because I have been blessed with a job. And if I couldn't afford it, somebody in my family would buy me that milk.

I may not like the war, but I have the option staying right here, in my comfortable 4-bedroom home, ranting about the decisions the government is making, because others have gone to war so I don't have to. And if I do rant about it, even publicly, I don't have to worry about my government coming and arresting me for that.

I can preoccupy myself with people who use plastic bags at the supermarket instead of "green" totes, instead of worrying about how I'm going to feed my hungry children.

I can believe anything I want to, no matter how stupid it is. I can worship whomever I want and my government will not prohibit it.

I can do anything I want to, and nobody's going to tell me "no." Because I live here.

God bless America. Now let's get back to our bitching.
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