I don’t want to come to the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the United States that took the lives of over 3,000 people on September 11, 2001 and not reflect on where I was that day, where we were collectively as a nation community and local communities, and were we are today.
That day I was a member of a college community. I was living with my parents at the time and watched the first plan fly into the world trade center with my mother as she watched Fox News and I prepared to leave for school that morning. I stayed for a minute, absorbing that image. Said a prayer for the people on that plane in that tower and in that city and then I left. I left for school. In the car I turned on NPR and listened. As I drove to orchestra practice I heard the report that a second plan had flown into the second tower. This was no accident. My world was so small that day I could not imagine who would have done this.
In some ways the rest of that day was a blur of emotion, but in others it was very much business as usual. Orchestra practice was canceled. I sat in the student lounge with my fellow musicians and watched as the World Trade Center buildings collapsed. I remember feeling numb as I walked to my American History class, expecting it to be cancelled, it wasn’t. The world outside our walls may have been changing, the Pentagon may have been on fire, but that was no reason not to learn about the period of Reconstruction after our nation’s civil war.
In the days that followed everyone flew their American flags. People called for dialogue and understanding. It seemed as though our leaders would rise to the occasion. Something would come of this tragedy. Somehow our world would find a way to heal.
We have not healed. Our nation has been at war for most of my daughter’s life. I’ll never forget one day when she was four years old, out in the backyard of my parent’s house, playing in the same corner of bushes where my sister and I used to look for fairies. I asked her what she was doing. Her reply, “I’m fighting the insurgents!” I stopped watching the news.
In the last ten years torture has been renamed, “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Predator drones continue to drop bombs on children and grandmothers so our government can scratch the name of one more terrorist off our hit list. We have given our government the authority to authorize wire taps without a warrant, subject its citizens to full body pat downs and confiscate our toothpaste without probable cause.
I look back at the last ten years and I mourn the loss of that call to heal. How do we reflect on the tragedy of that day and the days that have followed and reclaim the call of healing for ourselves?