Sunday, September 11, 2011
September 11th, 2001. It was the worst display of humanity ever witnessed, yet on that same day, we also saw the best display. I know this because my sweet Aunt Maria was in the thick of it and I will never forget the few things she told me. After being trapped in an office building six blocks away and thinking she along with her co-workers was going to die, she walked a path with thousands in solidarity through a war zone and across the Brooklyn Bridge.
On a rare occasion when she talked about that day, she never mentioned the evilness and destruction. What was most memorable was the kindness and love she was wrapped in. "Everyone was your friend and neighbor"....People helping others, lifting them over and through the rubble. Men and women at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge helping others up and over the guard rails. Taxis and boats shuttling New Yorkers over to Brooklyn or New Jersey. On that day, there was no Black, White, Hispanic, Jewish, Christian or Muslim, just fellow humans....People going above and beyond the call of duty helping strangers.
I saw hope in my Aunt's brief recollections and still get teary when I think about them. I often wonder if we were attacked by aliens, would we band together as one planet like the thousands of people who did that day in lower Manhattan??? Would we set aside our hatred and work together united by what makes us the same and not what makes us different? It sound unimaginable, but so did 9/11. I keep that hope that I have drawn from the kindness displayed on that horrific day in my heart. And although I am so very sad and angry(mostly sad), I try to let go of any hatred and retribution I might feel, because hope feels so much better.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
On September 11th, 2001, the world changed.....At least for Americans. On that day we were cordially invited to be a part of the evilness and terror that exists all over this shrinking planet. Prior to 9/11, we lived our lives with a false sense of security. We were able to turn away feeling protected by a vast ocean that separated 'us' from 'them'.
Then the world changed. I lived through it....barely(emotionally speaking). I couldn't believe my eyes, frantically calling my sister Leanne whose office faced the towers, and my Aunt Maria who was six blocks away. It seemed like forever before I knew they were safe. My Aunt thought the world was coming to an end and was on her knees praying, finally finding safety on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge. By the grace of God, Leanne was uptown at an appointment.
Having deep roots in NYC, I have spent my entire life visiting grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It feels like my second home. We toasted my 30th birthday at Windows of the World facing out toward the Hudson River. New York is such a part of me. To see a skyline without those two majestic buildings still breaks my heart, and I cannot bring myself to visit ground zero. Such evilness had finally found its way to American soil, but why New York? So many lives lost, and even more lives changed forever.
I feel I lived through it twice, when it actually happened and then the following year when the media made us live through it again. Now here we are ten years later and I feel like I am living through it for the third time. It is everywhere I look and I feel like my heart is breaking all over again. I am especially haunted by the jumpers. It is just unimaginable.
When I speak at events, I try and explain that it is no longer a choice to ignore things like the famine in Somalia or the rape and mutilation of girls in the Congo. We must get involved because we are all connected and what happens over there will eventually affect us over here.....like on that horrible day ten years ago...
I pray for peace for everyone who lost a loved one on what started out as a beautiful September day. And I pray that evilness will eventually be overcome by acceptance, understanding, compassion, generosity and love.