Anniversary of September 11, 2001

Today, September 11, 2012, marks the 11th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, aka 9/11. In fact, today is Tuesday, the very day which September 11 fell on back in 2001.

Regardless whether or not you believe the events leading up to, on, and beyond that day were “planned by our government” or were actually done by America’s domestic and foreign enemies (or both), the fact is, HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE DIED that day. Hundreds have died and/or as a result of the effects of 9/11, STILL suffer health and mental issues to this very day!

Before getting into the meat of this post, let me first say that as far as I know, I did not lose any relatives in the 9/11 attacks. I say that because of situations regarding my limited knowledge and awareness of some of my maternal and paternal relatives. I’ll post something about my status as a foster child later. Also on September 11, 2001, I had only been recently retired from the Navy for two years. Due to the constant change of duty which often occurs in the U.S. military, if is quite possible that a few of my Navy shipmates and acquaintances from other service branches were stationed at the Pentagon on that day. Just the same, the events of that day still affect me quite emotionally, particularly now as I write this blog post. I had the same emotional feelings of loss when the USS Stark (FFG-31) was struck by Iraqi Exocet missiles back in May 1987, but…I digress.

Lay aside, for a brief second, any conspiracy theories and divisive ideas you might have. Lay aside your political allegiances and your social and religious prejudices. Try to bear in mind that none of it will ever bring back the many family members, friends, lovers, co-workers, or rescue workers who tragically died that day, nor will it bring back those people who would die days and weeks later because of the effects of 9/11. And conspiracy theories and prejudice won’t help the hundreds of people, the remaining families and friends who, every year, has to remember what happened on this date. They, the rest of the country, and the world, is made to remember 9/11, in huge part thanks to media and internet rebroadcasts of the two planes crashing into the World Trade Center in New York, the plane crash at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, and the audio recordings from the black box and passenger cell phone calls of hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Somerset County, PA. All three sites had tragic loss of lives.

On this day I’m asking, no…I’m TELLING you, to get over yourself for a moment. You are still alive and, I assume, healthy enough to at least read these words. Let’s remember that survivors of 9/11 are NOT asking for, nor do they want our pity… however, UNDERSTANDING AND RESPECT go a LONG way! With that said, I give thanks and props (aka accolades) to both President Obama’s and Governor Romney’s presidential campaigns, and to the campaigns of others running for office throughout the country who have decided to hold or cancel any media campaign ads and/or speeches in observance of 9/11. Good move. It is the RESPECTFUL thing to do!

Some of us can and will eventually accept and deal with the death of a loved one if that person is:
1) expected to die and
2) dies peacefully and/or without further pain and suffering. However, there are others who have serious trouble dealing with the death of loved ones who die suddenly, unexpectedly, and tragically. Months and years could pass and still some people cannot completely move on with their lives. It’s important to consider that this is especially noteworthy if, for example this scenario were to occur:

  • On any given day, you’re seeing or speaking with the person and/or saying or waving goodbye, with the natural expectation of seeing and hearing from that same person again. Perhaps you had plans to do something wonderful later in the day with that person. Perhaps you and that person parted on a bad note. Maybe you argued, said or did some mean and spiteful things to the other person in the heat of the moment. You’ve since had time to cool off, with every intention to either apologize or make things right with that person the next time you saw or spoke to said person. Now imagine, hearing only minutes, hours, if not days later, that person died; he or she lost his or her life suddenly and tragically!

Now sure; anyone can argue that all death is tragic;  but to me, that’s a semantic which can be debated later. The point is to simply note one thing we all need to remember: be it peaceful or given to us abruptly, death is a mere heartbeat away.

People, teach your children and grandchildren about the events of this date. For many of us, the tragic event of September 11, 2001 was our Pearl Harbor. On this date, we got to experience what our parents and grandparents experienced some 60 years before many of us were born. Some of the elder folk who were children or young adults during the December 7th, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, probably never imagined that they would ever see ANOTHER attack on American soil in their lifetime! I’m sure veterans of WWII never imagined it either! Pearl Harbor is STILL being talked about and observed to this very day! So I say again, teach your kids about the PLAIN facts, not theories about 9/11, how to treat others, and about the importance of life.

Here are some other things to teach a child about and which we, as adults should also remember:

  • Treat others in the manner and way you would like to be treated. A person’s nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status should NEVER matter.
  • Never depart from the presence or end a phone call from/with someone, particularly a relative, friend, classmate, co-worker, or acquaintance – on a bad note or having said or done something or ugly to that person with first offering to apologize. Also, try to never go to bed at night without clearing the air with the person(s) with whom you had a disagreement.
  • Remember the heroic gestures of others at all three attack sites; those who died in the rescue efforts and how other rescuers and aid workers would get ill, suffer and die days, weeks and months later as result of the effects of the 9/11.
  • Tell your kids, (and we too, should try to remember) that for a moment, on that fateful day, and extending some days and weeks afterwards, AMERICA came together in a crisis: the free world JOINED us in our tears of sorrow and loss and they supported us in our efforts to recompose ourselves and continue on as hurt but still UNITED and vibrant nation. We proved to our enemies that American resolve could not be crushed.
  • Tell your kids how, sadly and shamefully, before all the dust of 9/11 was settled, and before all the bodies could be found, and before we could even begin a search for those responsible for the attacks, we allowed FEAR and IGNORANCE to bring about religious and racial stereotypes of a people and religion many knew or understood little about, let alone, respected. (If you, dear reader, are a minority and/or in a religion OTHER than “christian”, you ought to understand what the innocent Arabic people and/or those worshiping Islamic teachings went through – and are still going, eleven years after 9/11! ) It’s important that our children know that how FEAR and IGNORANCE caused many CLOSED-MINDED individuals to be and to do very nasty things to many innocent Arabic and Islamic people living here in America and abroad, and to other immigrants living (legally or illegally) in America. It was wrong then; it is wrong now.
  • Tell your children to study the history of their country, and to learn more FACTS about 9/11.
  • Finally, teach the children to learn to understand and respect the people, cultures and religions of others on this planet. America may be a world leader and world power but there are many times when we are simply arrogant or come off as such to other countries. We tend to sometimes forget that more than 236 years ago, we were once a young little nation experimenting with freedom, democracy, and independent thinking! That same experiment continues! And let’s teach our kids how important it is to NEVER allow prejudice to cloud their view and discernment of what is right and what is wrong.

Think about where you were and what you were doing 11 years ago this date. Then try to keep in mind that some 30 short years from now, We and OUR children will be telling our descendants about 9/11.
May God’s Spirit comfort the families and friends who lost loved ones eleven years ago today, September 11, 2001.
Keepin’ It…REAL!

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