Tuesday, September 11, 2007

i remember

And I know many of you do as well.

My 9 year old boy doesn't remember. He's heard about it, knows it happened, but he doesn't really understand it. In some ways I think he is exactly like some people out there. You know the kind. The kind that relate bizarro conspiracy theories...but I don't want to talk about them. I just want to quietly remember and reflect.

It's good to remember the hard things, the painful moments. September 11, 2001 was a day that irrevocably changed the course of American History. There are so few moments in our history like that, good or bad. I remember how it was before, but now I can't really remember not feeling cautious or worried or observant when I watch the news. I paid attention to the news and current events, but now the echo in the back of my mind is different. There are too many times that "what if's" aren't quickly dismissed with a shake of my head or a thought of "That wouldn't happen. Not here."

My grandmother remembers the day Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. She remembers the whole day as if it was transfixed like a diorama in an old shoebox, hidden in a closet and brought out to be looked at now and then. That moment is frozen in her memory, and no matter how much she may become forgetful now and then, that moment for her will always be there. It is a combination of sadness, fear, surprise and anger. I know. I know that's how she feels because she told me once. And because that exactly what happened to me and other Americans on that September day.

It is important to remember, to learn from our tragedies as well as our proud moments; and to remember our mistakes as well as our victories. Hiding behind conspiracy theories, feel-good politics and denying what really happened isn't remembering- it's giving up and refusing to acknowledge what really happened. It's a form of denial. No amount of hand wringing or trying to needlessly blame ourselves isn't going to erase the fact that there are bad people out there who really and truly want us dead. No amount of talking, persuading, or coddling will change that fact. My grandfather, who was man of very few words, once told me something about dogs and people: "Some dogs are just mean. They're gonna bite you whether you're smiling or not. People are too, only they'll smile back."

Yesterday, I saw someone else who remembers. I saw someone who knows what my granddad was talking about.I saw General Petraeus on C-Span yesterday, testifying before the Senate Committee. I saw a man who remembers, and who said some very important things about our future and the future of our way of life. One thing is certain, our security and the survival of our freedom does depend upon the success of those brave men and women overseas. He knows it, and I know it and I think many of you know it. What saddens me is to watch all of the politicians, political groups and pundits using it as a football for a political game of one-upmanship, or worse yet, to win political power.

Today a lot of websites and television shows will have slogans run across the screen that will say something like: "Never Forget." I hope we never do, but instead of just not forgetting, I think it's more important to remember. When you think of the men and women overseas and their families- remember. When you hear the political squabbling on Capitol Hill - remember. When the talking heads on television call names and bandy about accusations- remember. When you think about your family, you children and your children's children- remember.

And say to yourself- never again.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.


Anonymous said...

"And say to yourself- never again"
I just wish more people would say the same.

tammy said...

...She remembers the whole day as if it was transfixed like a diorama in an old shoebox, hidden in a closet and brought out to be looked at now and then....

Wow- excellent piece. I really caught on to that sentence and the whole thing. Very elegant and well written.


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