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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

I am not sure if the memories I have of the attacks on my country are my own.

Let me explain.

I can remember where I was that morning - I was in bed.  I had the type of alarm that turned on my television and I sat bolt upright  and stared into the horror unfolding live, in my bedroom, on the OTHER coast.

I screamed for my mother, and grabbed for the telephone.  I called my father.  He was watching it too.  My mother came into my room and stood there staring, transfixed by the sight.  As we watched, the second plane crashed into the towers.

I had to go to work.  As I got ready I kept brushing back tears and answering phone calls from friends.  I know I know...it is horrible...what is happening....the Pentagon?  Did you say the PENTAGON??? Oh my GOD, what is happening? 

In Modesto (and in the rest of the country) the previous weeks had been filled with news about the missing Chandra Levy and her Congressman boyfriend.  My cousins were very good friends of the Levy family and deeply involved in the search and the media circus surrounding her disappearance.   Suddenly the question was, "Chandra who?" as the deaths of close to 3000 people in the blink of an eye grabbed our attention and shook our minds until our souls rattled.

I drove to work, the radio tuned to an all-news channel out of the San Francisco Bay Area, and by the time I arrived in Antioch (I worked for the DUI school) we had learned about the other plane..the one that inexplicably went down in Pennsylvania.  No one knew why it had crashed but they knew it had been hijacked.  I called my mom and said, "I bet they fought back". 

Later, I discovered my hunch was right....and that a CAL Rugby player had been one of the people who had tried to end the nightmare, who showed the terrorists that they may have done this once but they were never going to have an easy time trying to do this again.....because this plane was not going to crash where THEY wanted it to crash...because they had run up against our most formidable weapon: The Average American.

Throughout the day and following weeks I learned more and more about what had happened.  I learned about the heroics of the firefighters and police, the horrible sinking feeling from the medical personnel ready at local hospitals as they waited for wounded who never came and the duty of the simple Franciscan Friar who became the first casualty for the NYFD - Father Mychal Judge, priest, Catholic, recovered alcoholic and chaste gay man...died while trying to tend to a fallen comrade.....died doing what a good priest is supposed to do: tend his flock.

My opinion about the war we have fought for the past ten years has changed and grown and morphed as the years have gone by, shaped I am sure by the ongoing sacrifice my family has made to this war effort.  I have had two cousins and one nephew serve in the Marines and the US Army.  I have had the privilige of supporting the sons and daughters of childhood friends who have fought and died in this war.  I have seen the abuses by the bad apples, watched men and women come back with memories that will never fade and I have seen young men barely old enough to vote commit acts of unbelievable heroism for the sake of their comrades in arms.

I hate war.  I hate that we have had to be at war.  I don't like having to live in a world where I cannot go and greet my football team at the airport or walk into a large government building without being scanned and x-rayed and wanded....

I hate war.

But I hate something else more:  I hate a philosophy that promotes the killing of unsuspecting citizens as a viable method for achieving an agenda that calls for the eradication of someone like me.

I hate that calling out that philosophy for what it is, brutal, demeaning, heretical and outright NUTS, is considered bigotry or is called offensive.

I am tired of having to walk on egg shells because not ALL members of Islam are terrorists (no kidding, kenneth).  I am tired of being told that my outrage over the bombing of Catholic Churches and the murder of priests and nuns by Islamist Facist reveals my deep seated bigotry towards something (and someone) I do not understand.

The war should end tomorrow.  Our soldiers should come home.  Our government should concentrate on rebuilding this nation and developing a real relationship with those who secretly delight that the Great Satan was dealt such a powerful body blow.

And those who wish me dead because I am an American Catholic Woman should be told, to their face, that their wish is not going to be granted without a fight.

Thank you to all who have served in our military these past ten years.  Thank you for allowing me to sleep at night (or during the day since I am now a graveyard shift worker).  Thank you for your protection.

Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day?

2 comments:

chimakuni said...

I was home asleep ... woke up a little later than usual, and went into the family room where my husband was watching the terror unfold on the television. As I turned to watch, another airplane slammed into the second tower.

I grabbed the phone and called my parents - my dad, an airline man, had so many questions ... they turned on their t.v. and watched, too.

I stood and cried and decided, since it was early enough, I should go to Mass. As I was getting ready to leave, my husband's daughter called, nearly hysterical. They had flown two days prior from our home to their home back in Massachusetts and she could not get over the fact that the hijackers had left from Logan Airport.

She was so frightened and scared and as I reassured her that everything was going to be fine, I was glad, so glad that I had the opportunity to go to Mass, where God transcends time and space and presents Himself to us - -

I drove into our parish and walked into the sanctuary - and what a sanctuary it was that day. I sobbed through the whole Mass, knowing, as I did then, that the country of my teen years, Afghanistan, had sent these men forth to destroy innocent life.

The Mass ... Christ's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, given for me - a balm to my sad, sad soul. The Mass was the same - the same as it was yesterday, the same as it will be tomorrow. There was no hysteria, there was no railing against the enemy - there was calm. There was Christ, there was hope, forgiveness and love.

Leaving Mass that day, I knew that whenever we take our eyes off of Christ, we are lost, but when we focus on Him, who is our eternal hope, we have hope.

On 9/11/01 - I was there - there with those who were dying, there with those who were grieving, there with those in Afghanistan, there with the naysayers, the pundits, the talking heads ... but most of all, I was there with Christ who gathered those who were killed to Himself.

What a wonderful gift the Church is to us - thank you Jesus for your gift!

Leslie K. said...

Beautiful, Sissy. Thank you for sharing with us!