10 years, so long ago, yet so near…

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel this year when those three digits representing that tragic page on the calendar of our nation’s history rolled around.  There were tributes. Monuments. Stories of where you were. A lot of build up to remind you that it was on it’s way.

I was a stay at home mom at the time, and pregnant with number two on the way.  My husband had phoned to ask if I was watching TV, which I was not.  I turned it on, and I could scarcely pull myself away from it for the rest of the day, and admittedly for a day or two after.  It was unfathomable, and who knew where it would all end?

Fast forward 10 years, and I have largely stayed away from all things that would serve as a reminder of that dreadful event.  I had seen an exhibit at the Newseum at one point, but did not visit for that sole purpose, in fact I did not even know it was there until I happened upon it while touring around.  It was a very gripping display with a video and a piece from one of the towers whose shape left no doubt in your mind where it came from. Putting that aside, I didn’t feel the need to rehash the saga with each subsequent anniversary.  But this year was different, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe I was ready. Perhaps I was looking for some closure.  I don’t know.

I know many people that have been there and done that so many times, that they were participating in a media blackout so as not to relive everything all over again.  Or perhaps wanting to steer their kids away from the gruesomeness of it all for as long as possible. I have a reporter friend, and many in her circle called the media frenzy just a feeding for all those money making sharks out there to make a profit whether financially or for some sort of personal gain.

I found it interesting that most of the folks that I know that feel this way did not have anyone that they knew that actually perished in any of the events that day.  Interesting because so many of them were so affected by it.  I guess one of the reasons why was that it could have been any American.  Someone going about their daily business when someone so abruptly stole their lives from them.  I can’t hardly imagine being in the soles of some of the folks who did lose someone, or more horribly, many people that day. It’s bad enough when something like that happens because of a natural disaster,  or some unforeseen accident, but when an individual/s chose to do this, it creates a total gaping hole in our American psyche.

My husband was supposed to attend a meeting at the Pentagon that day, and it ended up being rescheduled for some miscellaneous reason.  More than likely he wouldn’t have been in the area affected if he was there, but holy crap, talk about making my heart beat a million times a minute–young mom with a one year old and another on the way without a dad.  Who knows if he would have been late?  Went down the wrong hallway? Or would have just had to witness the whole thing in the flesh. Talk about bringing home what is important in life when you think about what could have been.

I know there are also countless stories like this about people who also would have been victims had it not been for an unusual ripple in their schedule which caused them to be spared…dropping off a child at kindergarten, picking up donuts for the office, your normal flight schedule being changed and you should have been on one of those fateful planes.  If picturing these little bumps in an every day schedule, and knowing that they could have affected your very existence doesn’t give you goosebumps, I don’t know what will.

So, this year was different.  I read every article I could lay hands on.  I wanted to see what happened to people that survived.  I wanted to know how people that lost their loved ones moved on.  I wanted to know all about the monuments that were erected in memory of all of the victims that day.  I wanted to witness it all over again like watching a car wreck, but preferred to do so via the written word.

One of my friend’s writing colleagues called the media hype “doom porn”.  I can relate to that, and it may have been one of the reasons I wasn’t drawn to the TV because I probably knew that if I started watching, I would have more than likely been drawn to watch it all day, watching images that were already scored into my brain for eternity over and over.  And for many people they’ve had enough already, and I can definitely understand that.  Do I agree that most of the stuff in the media was largely for profit, I guess I could concur.  But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t help people like myself move on and cope with the chasm in my own human psyche that resulted from bearing witness those ten years ago.  Fortunately or not, we demand this instant information and suck it all up eagerly, or else the media would not continue to do so.  We enjoy watching train wrecks. Why else would the popularity of all the reality shows be so high?

What was the result for me?  Still sadness all these years later, but I still have hope.  I was reminded of this hope by all the gorging I did on all of the information that was available.   Most of that is attributed to all those that showed an incredible amount of bravery and courage, and to me just stuffed that little finger we all know and love right back at all those that attacked us.  Who knows exactly what went on with Todd Beamer and the rest of the folks from Flight 93 that day–but, oh to be a fly on the wall to see the faces of those hijackers that got a little blip in their schedules which resulted in a day that didn’t go quite as planned.  All those brave men and women–just regular ordinary Joes–that risked their own lives for the safety of others.  I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that they are in a much better place out there in that great cosmos of the universe.

That’s what keeps me going.  That there are really people out there that are good people that care about their fellow man.  Real heroes that make a tangible, life changing difference in one life, or many for that matter. Was a lot of it overkill?  Probably.

But I can tell you that I was grateful for the media overkill this year, as it solidified my faith in man’s ability to get things right sometimes.  We as humans are by no means perfect.  There are many evil people out there.  Many people die from horrible things all the time.  But there is hope out there.  And I hope I can pull together even a pinkie full of some of the bravery displayed that day should I ever be faced with such horrible circumstance in my own life someday, but I pray that I never do…

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