Sunday, September 4, 2011
It was ten years ago this weekend that the unthinkable happened, and the words “New York” and “terrorist attack” became forever and inextricably linked in the minds and hearts of the world.
I remember that Tuesday morning clearly. I was returning from delivering a truckload of corn to some farm stands in Monticello, in upstate New York. The Ellenville Public Library was on my way back to the farm in Accord, where I worked summers for Saunderskill Farm. I stopped in the library to look for new books, as I often did. Everyone in the library was standing around the one computer that had the Internet, and I could see that a live video feed was on the screen of the World Trade Center in flames and I recall the smoke pouring into the sky as the image I saw that day. The second plane had just hit but the reality of the situation was still almost too big to grasp. No one flies jet planes into buildings. It’s just not civilized.
I returned to the main farm stand and it was as silent as a tomb in the place, except for a radio broadcast describing the events, and I listened to a newsfeed telling us that first one building was gone and later, the other. I don’t remember anyone actually working, just people standing and walking around in shock. This was, after all, only about 90 miles away from where we lived and worked and enjoyed the bucolic setting that living in the Hudson River Valley offered.
In the years since that day, a lot has gone on. The mastermind of the attack is in prison, the leader of the group that sponsored the attack is dead, and from the rubble of those two buildings, finally a new building is risen, over a thousand feet now and still growing. Something positive, something to look forward to.
But, sadly, in those years it seems that the amount of hatred and fear in the world has grown too. People are afraid of their own shadows. Politicians squabble and name-call like little children in the schoolyard. Common decency has been replaced by paranoia and at times it feels like we are re-living the Witch Hunt era. Or the McCarthy era. And it stinks.
It stinks because we are better than that. We are a nation of do-ers, not a nation of name-callers, neighbor-haters, or ”shoot first ask-questions later” haters, to use current parlance. We achieve. We lead, by example, in ideas, and in deeds. We endure because the world knows quality when they see it. Why else would so many risk so much to come here, legally or otherwise?
Despite the miserable state of this country right now, due in large part to the negativity mentioned above, I am still proud to be an American. I am proud to stand for our national anthem, lousy song that it is, and I still say the pledge of allegiance on occasion. “One nation indivisible”, the original words by Francis Bellamy read.
Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."
It’s time to show Pogo he was wrong. And that Mr. Bellamy was right.
It’s been ten years, enough time to mourn. It’s time now to unite, as people, as neighbors, as human beings, and as a nation, indivisible. I’m on board. You?