THE EVENT: We're watching NBC's Today Show... Katie Couric... a perfectly normal morning... she casually tells Matt about a report that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Then we were "on location." We watched in horror as reporters told us about a commercial airliner hitting one of the buildings at the World Trade Center... seeing "rerun" of the occurence, moments after it happened...
A couple of retirees, we discuss whether or not it was intentional or an accident... when we see in real time - the second tower is hit!
Accepting this reality, I sent an email out to family relaying details of the news. We could not stop watching ; every new piece of information came to us as it happened... we were actually living the experience! A daughter phoned me from her new job, asking if it was true. Yes, I said, it's war, no accident. Not long after, the Pentagon was hit; then the plane crash in Pennsylvania! Our President grounded all civilian flights. The airways were silent... in it's negativity, an eery non-sound.
As children during World War II, my generation experienced community blackouts - enforced civilian practice sessions where our parents were required to turn off lights so the enemy couldn't see where we lived... why? ...so the Nazis couldn't see where to drop their bombs! Air-raid wardens patrolled each neighborhood. If they saw lights in a home, they knocked on the door instructing owners to turn off the lights or draw shades over the windows. Can you imagine how we children felt? That fear - long gone - suddenly returned with the startling reality of live television!
As the towers fell, so fell the stock market. When the stock market reopened, four business days later, those of us who had the foresight and means to save money in IRA's watched our savings disappear! Pension funds, mostly invested in stocks, were diminishing rapidly. We began to perceive the ultimate irony... it appeared that the enemy had been using our free country's capitalist system, based on free enterprise, to finance the destruction. Our President immediately began operations to shut down the monetary connections between the enemy and all financial institutions in which they might be involved.
PERSONAL EFFECT: Our "life savings" - the IRA's tumbled to a small percentage of their previous worth! I was glad we had taken sums from that cache to pay off some real estate we recently purchased. My family, God love 'em, minimized the overall situation with their children, assuring them of their personal safety... a BIG plus on their parental report cards! I stopped on-line trading in the stock market, but didn't sell what was left... in itself an act of faith in our country. Some stocks are slowly recovering; others probably never will. I started my on-line diary - Grumbles from granni39 - a testament to my existence and in a way fulfillment of a promise (extracted from my children) to "write about" my life.
During the first six months, I observed the eleventh day of each month by sending an e-card to kids and grandkids, reaffirming my love for them. The news media kept reporting the feelings of people everywhere concerning that horrible September 11 catastrophe - focused on repairing the psyche's not only of those closest to the twin towers but anybody in small town America that wanted to be seen on TV! Where was that good old positive all-American attitude about diversity? I wrote "Generation 911", my response to that negativity.
AND TODAY, ONE YEAR LATER? Life goes on... life is still good... but now I live with an empathy for families of the 9.11 victims... those who must suffer through the continual rehashing of that horrific event! Wounds are difficult to heal when they are continually reopened. I think it's time to honor the dead... as we would our own loved ones... and let them rest in peace.
AND TOMORROW? I will continue to grow and build because growth is not a matter of size or age... and many things need to be built, not grand edifices but attitudes and understanding.
A MEMORIAL TO 9.11? I pray that those in positions of power think about the sacred burial grounds of our country's noble indigenous people when planning a memorial. The vast area remaining where the twin towers stood contains precious dust - the remains and the spirits of those souls whose bodies were taken from their loved ones on September 11, 2001. Let it be a simple park with a memorial built in the center honoring all who were murdered that day and the heroes who tried to save them. Let this memorial also honor all people who chose our great country as the place where we can practice our religion, no matter what we call our God... where we can make a life for ourselves, no matter how simple or complex... where freedom thrives! I refuse to watch the continual rehashing of that infamous day, September 11, 2001, but I will be among the first to visit the park to pray and reflect on the spirit of this great country.
..... by Shirley Salas, September 10, 2002