I wasn’t going to write about today, I was going to let my scheduled post go live and then continue on with my day. But, I can’t, it’s not like me to not acknowledge days like today. After reading Natalie’s post about how important it is to write, how much it helps all of us, I decided that today was the day I would write down where I was, what I was doing, twelve years ago today.
I’m 23 years old, this time 12 years ago, I was in the 6th grade in Greensboro, North Carolina. To be honest, I don’t remember the start of that day, I don’t remember going in to school or how my day began. I don’t even remember the moment the towers fell. My principal and the teachers in my school decided that it was in the best interest of the students to continue on with our days like normal, and to allow our parents to tell us what had happened in their own way. I know from friends, that some of the teachers couldn’t follow this procedure, they were too upset, some left class crying, others watched the news. My class remained in the dark until the afternoon, when our teacher, Mr. Roos, gave us all a letter to take home with us. Mr. Roos was from Scotland, he was on a teaching visa and spent a few years at our school. He handed us the letter, which I think (I can’t really remember) vaguely told our parents that none of us knew what had happened. My classmates and I read the letter, looked to him in confusion, and I remember him sighing and looking down. He then told us that we were going to have to be old enough to hear this, even though we shouldn’t have to be. He told us that some bad people had flown planes into buildings and that many, many people had been hurt. That was all.
I remember thinking nothing of it, in fact I remember walking to my mom’s car as she came to pick me up and asking if she’d heard about the planes that hit some buildings today. And that’s all. That’s all I remember of that day. I remember seeing a few headlines in the aftermath, but not much of the news. Most of my memories of 9/11 come from the anniversaries. From the books and stories I’ve read, movies I’ve seen.
I went to the Newseum with a friend recently. They had a JFK exhibit up and at the end, there was a pad of paper, a pen, and a bulletin board. Above there was a sign that read “Where Were You When You Heard the News?” Visitors had written their stories from that day in 1963 and pinned it to the board, and in another section, a sign read: “If this was before your time, where were you during a defining moment of your generation?” And on this board, the majority of the responses were about 9/11. There were so many stories, all so different. The story of where we were that day will always be something that unites my generation, and generations before us. They are stories of how we changed, how we continue to change, how our country changes.
Today, as I read posts and see pictures in remembrance of that day, I couldn’t help but look down at Chicken and Chickadee and think, they will never know a world before 9/11. They will never know a world with the Twin Towers. They won’t have stories to tell about where they were that day because, well, they weren’t there. They are a new generation that, we can only hope, might not have a day of terror that unites them all. Maybe the day that will define them will be a day of hope, change, and peace. Maybe, they will change the world.
Glennon wrote a beautiful piece today on how the people that committed those acts of terror became the ‘monsters’ we refer to them as. How they were born as babies, just like you and I, but because of seeds of fear and hatred that were planting in their hearts, they grew into people full of fear and hatred. I encourage you to read her post, to look for bad seeds planted in yourself, and to work to grow and change into a better person.
The only way I know how to end this post is with this prayer from Glennon’s post this morning, the words are beautiful, no matter your beliefs, and it is something I know I won’t soon forget.
Help us begin to do things differently, God. Instead of sitting around and talking about war and peace- help those in charge do their job to make peace and help us go into our worlds and MAKE the peace we long for. Help us forgive ourselves and then our families and then our friends and then our neighbors and then, finally, our enemies. Help us reach out to someone in need today. Help us remember that everyone is in need, so we don’t need to waste too much time trying to find the right person. Help us remember to add: Make Peace to our daily to-do lists. Remind us to write Make Peace at the very top. Help us be gentle with ourselves and each other. When we mess up, when we aren’t gentle, help us forgive ourselves, say we’re sorry, and try again. Help us BE the change we want to see in the world. Help us BE that change privately and publicly. Help us be brave enough to talk about Peace Making with our children, so that over time, they will learn that What We Are Doing Down here is not climbing the corporate ladder, or collecting money and things we’ll just have to leave behind, or having important opinions and then spending a lifetime defending them. No- what we are Doing Down Here is Making Peace. That’s our work. That is everybody’s work. Help us teach the next generation that if they want to achieve greatness, they should do that in the arena of peacemaking. Help us make it on Earth as it is in heaven- Blessed are the peacemakers.