11:11 [9/]11/11

Where was I 10 years ago? Who cares? If you must know, I was home, working on YAG stuff on my beloved strawberry iMac. I [uncharacteristically] did NOT have NPR on and was therefore blissfully unaware of the attack until the GG arrived home at a totally unexpected time.

In other words, I have pretty much the same memory as anyone who wasn’t personally affected by it — I saw it on TV. I have a much more interesting memory of JFK’s assassination. I was sitting in Mrs. Scott’s 4th grade classroom feeling like crap from a fever and sore throat and Patty McKerchie tipped her chair over (actually not all that unusual an event) and then we all got a couple days off school and it snowed and everybody was outside having a blast except me because I was home sick in bed.

I don’t want to belittle the horrific 911 tragedy. A lot of people died and if you lost a loved one on September 11 or in the one of the wars we are still waging in the middle east, you have my sincere condolences. We were all terrified in the aftermath. What would happen next? What were these terrorists capable of? Would they crash planes into large suspension bridges or, um, crowded football stadiums in fly-over states? Maybe they would set off nuclear bombs in several different cities at the same time. Or unleash the smallpox virus. None of that stuff happened but we did start two wars and ramp up a gargantuan security charade. Could we have handled it in a different way? I don’t know and I’m not immune to the sadness of the memories. I had NPR on most of today and I was greatly moved by the stories people told.

September 11 should be remembered. But so should the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina and the Oklahoma City bombing and the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Joplin Missouri tornadoes and the Columbine High shooting rampage and the Virginia Tech shooting rampage. And then there was the Bath School disaster, way back in 1927. Yes I know that some of those events were natural disasters and others were perpetrated by deranged people. I don’t see how we could possibly have predicted *any* of them with any accuracy. Stuff like this has been happening since the beginning of time and it will continue until the end. We need to do the best we can to predict and prepare for disasters but we need to understand and accept that there will be disasters that will catch us unprepared.

What annoys me the most is when people talk about how much more “united” we became after 911. Maybe for about five minutes? Now? Our economy is in a shambles, our government is in a perpetual deadlock, and we are involved in two protracted wars overseas. We can’t enter an airport or our own country without running the risk of being pushed around by a customs or TSA agent who has let the power bestowed upon him go to his head. If we are taking a stupid little cell-phone video of a tourist attraction, we can be questioned by a “security” person for suspicious behavior. We are making her nervous. Because we are *all* potential terrorists these days.

I think it’s fine to commemorate September 11 for what it was, a terrible tragedy that took the lives of a lot of people. But I want to get on with life. I don’t think we should abolish all security measures. I just think we need to ratchet things back a bit. Tone down the arrogance, the snide questions, the general harassment. Power should be used only when it needs to be. When that fragile octogenarian who has set off the damned alarm shakily states that it might be his pacemaker, he should be treated respectfully, not detained and harassed with nasty, sarcastic questions. Let’s look at each other as human beings and try to regain some semblance of a sense of humor about the whole thing. I am tired of being “protected” from myself. Let’s get over ourselves.

Today. I didn’t listen to NPR *all* day. I braved some of the squirreliest traffic I’ve encountered in a while to travel to Megalopolis to attend a niece’s baby shower. I cackled with sisters-in-law and nieces and in-laws of in-laws and defined “first cousin once removed” to a niece because that’s the relationship she will have with this yet-to-be-born babe, the next member of our new generation. We are moving on.

P.S. I didn’t know what to title this post. I had been thinking about something like “keep your jack-boots off me” but I used that word yesterday and anyway, it seemed a little over the top somehow. When I — randomly — opened this new post at exactly 11:11 AM this morning, I had my title. Not that I am attaching any significance to it. It’s just an interesting coincidence.

One Response to “11:11 [9/]11/11”

  1. Margaret Says:

    Awesome title–and I totally agree with you. I said much of the same on my post today, but not as eloquently. I didn’t want to discuss 9/11 much nor read/see anything about it. I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. It makes me sad; am I only a good American if I beat myself up over it every year?