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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Final Musings on 9/11

In the twelve years since 9/11, nearly everything about my life has changed. It was just after that fateful day that I learned I was going to become a mother for the first time. Since then I have been blessed with five of my own children and one stepson. I've been married, divorced, and married again. I left the exciting world of retail for the even more exciting world the Army had to offer. I left the Army and went back to school. And I got deeply involved in local politics. 

I spent the first half of today doing lessons with my kids. Homeschooling has its advantages, though. Instead of our normal math/spelling/science lessons, we spent the morning immersed in history. I walked them through the timeline of the events of September 11, 2001. My eleven-year-old son was in tears as I explained to him that the hijackers wanted so desperately to kill Americans that they had no regard for their own lives. My nine-year-old daughter covered her eyes as we watched video of the towers collapsing in clouds of smoke and debris. The younger kids just watched, in wide-eyed shock at the airplane flying into the second tower.

For my part, I had not watched these videos since 2001. I couldn't. Even today I felt my heart leap into my throat when I saw the impact. I teared up when I heard the voices of terrified New Yorkers frozen forever in that moment on the videos we watched. And the tears rolled when we watched the response at Ground Zero from then President George W. Bush.

I was reminded of that goofy meme that has been circulating pretty much since Obama's first inauguration: the picture of President Bush, thoroughly amused, with the phrase, "Miss me yet?" And I do. Not because I loved his policies - because I didn't, not all of them anyway. His "compassionate conservatism" was nothing more than Karl Rove's repackaging of "democrat-lite." And don't get me started on "No Child Left Behind" or those ridiculous curly light bulbs. But I can't help thinking that if George W. Bush had been President in 2012, we would be telling a different story about Benghazi. If there was any story to tell at all.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Moment We Remember

Every generation has that one event, that singular happening. That seminal moment during which time stops, the world stops spinning, and people everywhere take stock of their lives. After they call home to make sure everyone is all right. For my mother's generation, that moment was the Kennedy assassination. To this day, she can tell you exactly where she was, what she was doing, at the moment she heard the news. For previous generations it was events such as D-Day, Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the Titanic, or the assassination of Lincoln.

At the age of 22, I really thought my "seminal" event was the Challenger explosion. I remember watching the screen go white on the little tv on the wobbly-wheeled av cart in my first grade classroom. I remember my teacher crying at the back of the classroom. I remember the next week watching Ronald Reagan speak brave, kind words about the astronauts who lost their lives and the America that would celebrate their lives and give their deaths meaning by continuing their mission.

On September 11, 2001, I woke up a few minutes before 8am CST. I turned on the tv, knowing I didn't have to be at work that day until 11:30am. I recognized the New York skyline immediately. Smoke was billowing up from one of the Twin Towers. The sound was a confusion of sirens and screams and car horns. 

"Wow. This movie SUCKS," I said to myself, noticing the TNT logo near the bottom of the tv screen. I changed the channel to TBS, and was immediately dismayed. What were the odds that two independent cable stations would simultaneously play the same bad movie? My stomach leapt into my throat as I changed the channel to CNN. The second plane crashed. And I reached for my phone to call my mother.

Today, as we think about those who died that day twelve years ago, with heavy hearts we must add the four who died last year in Benghazi. We must also realize that there is no Reagan to tell us that the mission will continue. There is no George W. Bush to remind us that the voices of Americans will be heard.

There is only an Administration of puppets and puppeteers pointing fingers in between spades games and rounds of golf.