11 September 2019 … Memories – Redux

Until last year, I have published a post each year on September 11th, sharing memories of that day in 2001 when life changed, my thoughts and reflections.  This is the post that I first published in 2016, repeated it in 2017, and I am repeating it, with some updates and additions, this year, because as I read over it, I realized that I cannot say it any better today than I said it three years ago.  I skipped my 9/11 post last year, for I felt that amidst the chaos and divisiveness of this nation, it had lost its relevance.  I was wrong … we need to remember … we must not forget, we must look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we have learned anything in the 18 years since our world turned upside down in a matter of minutes.

*Good People Doing Good Things will be posted this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. EDT


Humanity

911-cover-4Eighteen years ago.  It seems so much longer … another lifetime.  And yet … and yet, it seems like such a short time ago. I remember the morning well.  A key staff member was on vacation and I had to cover, so I arrived at work well before dawn, but I stepped outside sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 for a smoke break.  The sky was the bluest I could recall ever seeing it and I thought it must be the most perfect day ever.  Within a half-hour, I would be left in tears, cursing the day, hoping to awaken from this nightmare.

911-cover-9I went back inside from my smoke-break, and an employee, Susie, came up to me and asked if I had heard about the plane that crashed into the World Trade Center.  If the building I worked in then had not since been demolished, I could show you the exact tile I was standing on at that moment, just as I could tell you that when we received news of the assassination of JFK, I was at home plate with bat in hand, waiting for the pitch that would never come.  Just as my grandfather often told exactly where he was and what he was doing when the news of the attack on Pearl Harbour came over ‘the wireless’. You think it is a literary trick when an author says “time stood still”?  Well, I can tell you … for me, time did stand still, as I must have also.  I seemed to have lost all feeling, all senses shut down … I could not hear nor see.  After that, it all blurs into a series of news updates … a 2nd plane, then the Pentagon, then a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the name Usama bin Laden.  A gathering in the cafeteria, a television rolled into another room where we all gathered.  Financial statements, payroll, printing presses and the like forgotten for the moment.  Tearful phone calls home to the girls.  Then day after day, glued to the television every waking moment.  In my household, we had a then-6-year-old and finally had to turn to Nickelodeon, but the images remained in our eyelids, in our hearts, in our souls. And the tears never stopped.

911-cover-2Today we mark the 18th memorial of that awful day.  We do so in many ways, but the saddest thing for me is that we did not learn the lessons we needed to learn from that tragedy.  Today, our nation is more divided than ever.  In the days and weeks that followed what would become known simply as 9/11, it seemed we were on the right path.  People from all over the nation and Canada traveled to Ground Zero to help with search and rescue, and eventually cleanup operations.  Shopkeepers gave out free food and water.  People helped neighbors, friends and strangers.  We all empathized with each other, treated each other a little kinder, gave a bit more freely of our hugs and kind words.

Compare and contrast to today, when we are a nation divided by hatred, divided by a lack of understanding for those who do not look, act or think like us.  And there are many who blame today’s vitriolic environment on 9/11, those who decided to hate all who share a religion with the plotters and perpetrators of the horrific acts of 9/11.  But it doesn’t stop there … our nation has renewed its call for racial discrimination, religious intolerance, and hatred of those who are perceived as ‘different’ in one way or another.  We have lost our way.


Commercialism

That which “we will never forget” has already been forgotten by some, it would seem.  A mattress company releases the following ad:

“Right now, you can get any sized mattress for a twin price!” says a grinning woman flanked by two employees in the 20-second spot. She flings her arms out and the men tumble backwards, knocking over two tall piles of mattresses. The woman screams “Oh my God!” in mock panic, then immediately recovers her composure and adds, with a half-smile: “We’ll never forget.”  It quickly attracted local, then national outrage. The ad was taken down, and Mike Bonanno, the owner of Miracle Mattress, issued the following statement:  “I say this unequivocally, with sincere regret: the video is tasteless and an affront to the men and women who lost their lives on 9/11.” 

How did he not realize how “tasteless” it was before it aired?

9-11One Wal-Mart, in conjunction with Coca-Cola, erected a display to “commemorate” the 9/11 anniversary.  It was taken down after much criticism.  And other companies have also tried to use 9/11 for sales and profit.  It is not a commercial holiday. We do not celebrate with hot dogs and beer. It is a day of national mourning.  It is a day of solemnity.  Commercialism has no place on this day, no right to use it as a gimmick.  Can you imagine Pearl Harbor, or the assassination of President John F. Kennedy being commercialized?  There was one commercial ad that truly was a tribute to the day.  It aired only once, in 2002.  I still find it to be a beautiful tribute and it still brings tears.  Please take just one minute to watch it.

Before airing the commercial, Anheuser-Busch sought and received approval from Congress, as well as then-mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani. There is no company logo until the end, and since it aired only once, given the cost of producing the ad, the company made no profit from it, nor did they intend to. It truly feels like a tribute rather than a cheap shot. It was tasteful … respectful.


Positive, Encouraging, Hopeful Messages

In 2016, in a rare display of partisanship, 200 members of Congress stood on the steps beneath the recently restored Capitol dome and prayed, observed a moment’s silence and, accompanied by a marine band, sang God Bless America to mark the imminent anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The remembrance ceremony, with Democrats and Republicans standing side by side, was heartening, though it would have been much more so had all 535 members of Congress participated.  Will we see that repeated this year?  I doubt it.

I understand that Donald Trump plans to attend a 9/11 memorial today.  I will not watch, for he only desecrates the day with falsehoods and I can never forget that, after the towers fell, he bragged that now his was the tallest building in the city.


I end where I began, by saying that we have lost our way, we have failed to learn from this, and to some extent we have failed to keep our promise to “never forget”.  The nation is more bitterly divided, more everything-phobic today than it was prior to 11 September 2001.  Rather than embracing our differences, we are using them as an excuse for hatred.  Rather than loving our fellow man, we are killing him.  Unless we learn to unite and work together for the sake of not only our nation, but of humanity, we are doomed to repeat the past. I would ask the readers of this blog to do this one thing:  be kind today, do not put anyone down, offer a smile to any you see, and hug your family just a little tighter today … just for today. Below are just a few pictures I would like to share, to remind us all of that day.

911-1

911-4

911-dust-lady

Marcy Borders, the ‘dust lady’, sadly died 25 August 2015 of cancer related to 9/11

ground zero

twin-towers

 

66 thoughts on “11 September 2019 … Memories – Redux

    • Thank you, Jennie! I suspect that what will happen is the same thing that happened with the Holocaust … the memories grow dim as the older generation who lived through it die out, and subsequent generations know of it only through the stories of their parents & grandparents, so it isn’t as real to them, and ultimately it is just another story from the history books. Sigh. The Chinese believe that history is cyclic, and I think this is why … we never seem to learn the lessons, or at least we quickly forget them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As Americans we enjoy a home of relatively safe passage in our days and nights. We at least have some control over being in harm’s way. I still remember exactly where I was when the reports began airing and how surreal it all was. Still it did not directly impact most of our country. The destruction, devastation and death were sirens heralding the end of our golden age of cocooning ourselves from the harsh reality of an outside world that could somehow infiltrate our safety system. My heart went put then as it does now to those who lost lived ones and whose lives were altered forever. It also brings me in mind of those people who live with these types of attacks daily, whose lives subsist of hiding in fear, scraping for food and never knowing when the next bombs will go off or if their home will be hit. What was a singular horrific event in America’s recent history has been the daily life for people in so many other warring countries. It all breaks my heart so much. As someone who can’t being myself to hate, i cannot fathom the kind of hatred it takes to destroy lives. I just can’t. 😞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very well said, Cheryl. Like you, hatred is an emotion that is foreign to me, and I don’t understand it. But, as another reader so rightly pointed out, the hatred that was directed at us that day was only retaliation for the years … nay, decades … of us interfering in and trying to change other cultures. “Live and let live” seems to be alien to the Western world who believe that all should follow their lead. Yes, we live in relative peace and safety, but … many do not, and in truth, our nation is changing. We are seeing unprecedented cases of domestic terrorism, most always based on bigotry in one form or another. 9/11 sent a message … that was its intent. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn the right lessons. Sigh.

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      • I have always been against regime change wars form when the first Bush entered Iraq in 1990. We had no business whatsoever getting involved with the middle east and had we not invaded Iraq back then, maybe 911 wouldn’t have happened or the bombing of the wtc in 1993.

        Conservatives like to say that the war came to us but they choose not to consider the previous years of unnecessary interventionism that created ill will on the part of the nation’s we were trying to police or shape in our image.

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  2. I feel your pain, Jill, and understand that it hasn’t diminished over the years.
    I too remember the day. It was early morning here, and Terry woke me to watch the news before I went to work. It was the Event that changed the direction of the the world. I believe that if our leaders had not been so hawkish, and I include our Prime Minister of the time, John Howard, our world would be a different, and hopefully more caring place. There needed to be a response, of course, but we got a response that only widened the divides in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anne! Funny, isn’t it, how today’s leaders … well, leaders throughout history really … prefer to settle their differences with war rather than diplomacy. I sincerely think that if we had more women in leadership roles that would change. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had never seen that Budweiser video and I can honestly say the ending immediately brought tears to my eyes and my heart skipped a beat. In fact, even now, I feel a tightening in my chest.

    That particular memorial will NEVER be surpassed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember the Budweiser commercial, and again it brought tears to my eyes. How could anyone write about anything else today? I wasn’t going to, but I found myself posting a brief note about how Canadians were and still are affected by not only that day but the days and years thereafter. I choose to see Trump as a hiccup in the relationship between the United States and Canada. 9/11 reminded us that we are family. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you. When I think of this day, I always remember the generosity of Canadians who took in so many stranded passengers, welcomed them into their homes. Canadians are truly our friends & family, and most of us were appalled by the way Trump has treated Canada. Thank YOU!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this beautiful memorial post about one of the darkest days of our lives. Please accept my condolences for your lost friend and the horrendous attack on your beloved New York City. It is a tough day to remember, but remember we must!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for remembering, Jill. WE MUST remember the truth. There are Holocaust deniers gaining credence worldwide, my next door neighbor believes the that the Clintons are responsible for 37 murders, and next door to them is a man who believes that 9/11 (all the videos, all the news coverage, all the reporting) was a hoax and actually a military operation. WE MUST REMEMBER TRUTH.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well said.
      I suggested to persistent 9/11 Conspiracy theorists that on the basis on their arguments of black-ops and psi-ops how was I not to suspect the following:
      That to cover up its ineptitude in failing to stop the attack on 9/11 the Security Community had created a Conspiracy Theory environment to distract people from asking very hard questions on the intelligence short-comings?
      If they came back at me, the response would be I how could be certain they were not an Security Services ‘shill’ carrying out this very act?
      At that point they used to get quite incoherent and start sending me worthless internet links.
      I don’t think the ones who belong to the liberal and left wings realise their persistence with JFK and 9/11 conspiracies helped nurture a climate of distrust and paranoia which has given rise to Trump getting in the Whitehouse and the extremely odious Alex Jones making Sandy Hook parents lives a misery beyond imaging.
      God protect all decent and normal Americans and open the eyes of the rest.
      Roger

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, my friend, we must remember the truth, lest others obliterate it for their own purposes. I remember when the conspiracy theories first started up, just hours after 9/11 … the dust hadn’t even settled yet when some were saying that there were no planes, that the government had brought the towers down. Sigh. People have too much time on their hands, methinks.

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  7. A sober reminder Jill.
    I remember the blue sky and beautiful autumn day (I was in Canada at the time). I was late hearing the tragic news. I had been in a class until 2pm and had not heard any reports. Once in my car, the news came over the radio. I sat looking at it, wondering if it were a fictional play. It seemed unbelievable that two planes had each flown into a tower.
    I went home and sat, looking at the pictures on my TV set, my class and homework forgotten, the plan to enjoy the beautiful afternoon, forgotten, and everything suddenly lost meaning in the wake of such a human tragedy. I do not remember crying. I was completely numb with shock.
    You were much closer to this disaster, so I can only imagine how you felt, and the families of other victims. My heart goes out to you and them on this day of remembrance. 💔❤️Healing comes so slowly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can certainly understand why it would have sounded like a “War of the Worlds” sort of joke. Last year, oddly enough, was the first year that I didn’t cry over it, and I thought I had finally put it behind me, but then last night, as I was revising and updating this post, the tears flowed again. Some things one never quite gets over … they change us in some ways, I think. Thanks, dear Colette. ❤

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  8. A very sober and intelligent tribute Jill.
    The Budweiser advert was indeed beautiful and very moving, as for the rest….well if there’s a buck to be made.
    I was very moved by the editorial cartoons which arose in the days following, a year later I revisited a search and found the theme had been polluted by the Conspiracy Crowd (and naturally the racists managed to sleaze in).
    I remember that day, the news filtering in at work in the afternoon, one lady crying, someone saying ‘there’s phone call for you Rog’ , me thinking ‘It’s Clare’ and indeed in was my daughter phoning from Leeds to ask if I had heard the news. Gradually the office grew still, very few of the public came in and when I went home the town was nearly empty.
    The council organised a memorial in the town square with the personnel of the fire service in attendance.

    Take care you guys.
    Sanity may yet return…
    After all Trump has just sacked Bolton…..

    Liked by 1 person

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