Five years ago today each and every one of us had our realities rocked in some way. Our perceptions of the world and our place in it were forever altered.
Writing this was hard for me today. I still feel many of the same feelings I felt on Sept. 11, 2001. Parts of the memory are still as fresh and as raw as they were that day. What I thought was healed, was just covered by a scab.
I thought about writing about my feelings on that day and now. And I thought about writing about the losses we incurred that day. Then I realized that I was no different from others, my feelings were more or less the same. And to write that would be to write what has been said and written each Sept. 11 for the last five years.
As a matter of fact I did not lose as much as many others that day. I did not lose anyone I loved or even knew in the attacks. I wasn’t there so I wasn’t dealing with the recovery effort, nor was I there as an observer face to face with with the realities of what was happening.
But still I lost that day. I lost that feeling that America was invulnerable from this type of attack. I felt personally afraid. For the first time in our country’s history our mainland was attacked by a force that did not come from within. And that terrified me.
We have suffered mass casualties before. From major accidents, to natural disasters, to mass murders we have had them before. But this is the first time that we have been hit by a force other than from God or our own people. No longer can I see articles of terroristic attacks in other countries and feel that smug “Oh that doesn’t happen here”. You might say I lost my innocence that day.
After any loss grieving is a natural part of the process. And with so many losses both personally and individually we needed a long time to grieve.
But it is time to set grief aside. It is time to give ourselves permission to heal. Healing is different from forgetting, we will always remember. No matter if our loss was a personal one or a collective one, we won’t forget. And we need that memory to help strengthen our resolve and to remind us of what is important in our lives.
But it is time to give ourselves permission to heal. We need to start remembering the more positive things that have come out of that day.
You will say what postives came out of that day? First many escaped. Some didn’t make it in to work that day, some managed to escape the building on their own, some were saved by the rescuers. Those who made it out have never been celebrated. Some had physical injuries, and some psychological injuries. But they survived. Some still do not understand why they survived while others didn’t. They survived to show there is always hope. And many who escaped the building that day, survived to tell the story to others- to share what happened that day.
Second and what I remember best is the way our country came together that day. People suddenly took pride in being an American, something that I think was a first in my lifetime. They were not only proud, they were verbal about it. There were more flags flying than at any other time in my lifetime. I wonder if that reaction suprised the attack planners? After all, we are known as the country who constantly disagrees with each other over politics and government decisions. People from other countries who do not have our freedom often do not understand that is one of the hallmarks of freedom in our country that we are most proud of.
Third, our country rallied together to get NY what ever might help. Personnel, equipment, supplies and donations were quickly organized. Volunteers gave of their time to assist in any way possible. People on the streets of NY offered whatever they could. Even the children looked for ways to contribute. Our country was working as one that day and for many days after that.
There were many other positives that day. People who worked tirelessly in the recovery effort, people who cared for the injured and dead. Many worked over and above the scope of their jobs for many long days after the attack.
Because of what happened our bubble of invulnerability burst. More efforts are being poured into protection. Are they perfect? No. And judging from other countries who have been targets longer than we have and still suffer from attacks- we may never be invulnerable. Just like with computer hackers, as soon as one safeguard is put into place, there will be people who start working on ways to get around that safeguard. But we are more aware and alert now. And efforts have been made and are continuing to be made to make our country safer.
Forget? No I never will. Forgive? No. But yes it is time to give ourselves permission to heal.