Makes Me Sigh

The Vow of 9/11

Today is the 5th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on our nation. When I allow my thoughts to settle too long on that day, I still feel as nauseous as I did the morning I sat on the end of the bed in my pajamas watching it all unfold like a Hollywood movie on morning television. Even after five years, there is still a certain degree of disbelief as though something so horrific couldn’t really have happened. It is one of two events in my life that is too great, too atrocious, too awful to fully absorb.

Across the nation today, newspapers will feature stirring tributes written for the victims. There will be public ceremonies and memorials marking the day. Politicians will give impassioned speeches. Somewhere a soldier wearing white gloves will hoist his shiny bugle and sorrowfully play Taps. The television will replay the footage of airplanes slicing through the magnificent towers and the confetti of life raining down into the streets of Manhattan on an endless loop while the newsreaders wear a practiced and appropriately grim expressions and pretend to be wise. But at the end of the day, after all the noise has faded with the sunlight, nothing will have changed. There will still be children without parents, widows without spouses and a nation that is bitterly divided. There really are no words to adequately honor those who were lost or soothe those who remain.

Some need to replay and review and analyze and intellectualize the events of the day – as though it can somehow be made to make sense. For others, the public tributes and ceremonies will provide a measure of comfort. Each must mark this day in one’s own way. As for me, I will turn away and turn inward to the still quiet spaces in my heart where I will renew the vow I made on September 11, 2001 to live in the moment and to love those around me more freely, more fiercely and more deeply.

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.~ James 4:14

31 thoughts on “The Vow of 9/11

  1. I heard a great sermon this morning and it just so happens to relate to your story today so I’m passing it on to you in response.

    Just think back to 1968 (if you’re old enough) and remember all the tragedies that year held. The Vietnam War was “happening” across our country. U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California by Sirhan Sirhan. Kennedy dies from his injuries the next day. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots erupt in major American cities for several days afterward. Terrorist had attacked airlines; President Johnson said he wasn’t running a second term. Viet Cong soldiers attack the United States Embassy in Saigon. Civil rights protests caused many to be killed. My Lai massacre – American troops kill scores of civilians. A student demonstration ends in a massacre at La Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco, Mexico City, Mexico, ten days before the inauguration of the 1968 Summer Olympics. Race riots were happening and a long list of very scary incidents that monthly rained terror and fear on our nation.

    But…..also be reminded of a very peaceful moment in time that same year when three men Frank Barman, James A. Lovell, Jr., William Anders, who were the first to orbit the moon and see earth as a large blue sphere on Dec. 24th read these words to the listening world:

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

    And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day.

    And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “Sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning-the second day.

    And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.”

    And God saw that it was good.
    In times of fear and things that seem overwhelmingly bad – look and see the good!

  2. Ive told my husband the news used to report the news. Now they create “events”. It plays all day. I’m pretty confident watching CNN the entire day breeds fear. Much better your way to love those near you, enjoy some quiet, check your priorities. Well said.

  3. The DJ on the radio this morning suggested that, rather focusing on all the negatives of this day, how about we instead make it a day of random acts of kindness–in honor of those who died.

    Listeners were phoning in with all sorts of suggestions: dropping off baked goods at the local firehouse and saying thanks for all they do every day, paying the toll fee for the car(s) behind you, calling up an old friend to see how they’re doing, driving less aggressively, spending the day doing volunteer work, etc.

    I liked those ideas.

  4. Sometimes the best things said are not words at all. Actions, most of the time, do speak louder than any shouted words.

    I remember because we need not forget the day we were attacked ferociously and without any warning. I also remember because we are “flowers quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind.” (Casting Crowns) Let’s remember not only to love those we hold dear, but to also love and cherish those who are strangers – passing the love of God to others.

    Eloquent words AM. Beautiful and poingant today.

  5. “a confetti of life raining down” — you always find an eloquent way to express everything — even something as horrific as this.
    Your Biblical reference reminded me of Psalms 39:2-5 “Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more. My life is no longer than my hand! My whole lifetime is but a moment to you. Proud man! Frail as breath! A shadow! All his busy rushing ends in nothing.”
    Thanks for your post as always.

  6. So true. I was watching some of the things on TV and the history channel today and the old feelings of rose up in me all over again…even after five years.

    Over the weekend I wrote my own memories of that day and posted them late last night…mainly for my children. And I was surprised how well everything came flooding back to my mind.

  7. I participated in the 2,996 project and in writing about Clarin Shellie Schwartz, I put down my own experiences… I mostly remember just not wanting my husband or my children out of my reach. I needed to see everyone at all times… needed us to be together.

    5 years. And still so, so raw.

  8. September 11 has been a terrible date to remember since I was born…it was the day that a coup d’etat took place in my country, and ever since people have been divided among two groups, those who supported it and those who didn’t. I spent 5 years living in the U.S…I arrived to Boston on August 2001. I was shocked to see the horror of what happened that same day, Sept.11, only many years later. My daughter was born in January this year, she is an American, and so even though we are now back in Chile, we will always be connected with the U.S. It is a shame that today we had to remember both terrible episodes in the history of our countries.

  9. My name is Lisa…Kacey introduced me to your blog. I agree with her; your writing is just beautiful. Very poetic and to the point. Although you seem to have gone through some tough times, I also enjoyed reading your expressive profile!

    Living on LI, the events of 9/11 were too painfully close. The days following were so terribly eerie; the constant scream of strange jets flying back and forth in the middle of the night, most likely guarding the coast; the constant hovering of helicoptors every day for weeks, which we finally attributed to the funerals of countless firefighters and police officers that lived in the area; the strange smell and tiny particles that seeped into our streets and backyards. There are so many widows in our area, many of whom were left with small children. I will never forget one mom up at the elementary school who was scared but hopeful that afternoon that her husband would be a survivor from Cantor-Fitzgerald. As the days went on, she looked more and more drained as she dreadfully started to lose hope that her husband would ever be found…and eventually resigning to the fact that they might not ever find even a peice of his remains. She had a 9 year old little boy and 4 year old twins at the time.

    The boy I went to the Junior Prom with was killed in Cantor-Fitzgerald. I had just seen him a month earlier at our 20th high school reunion. Everyone around here knew someone that perished, or several people…if it wasn’t actually someone close to them.

    I will never forget the feeling of dread that I had on that day. The love that I had felt for my small town faded in fear in a matter of hours, and I basically count the minutes until my youngest graduates high school in 5 years so that we can leave this giant bulls-eye. If she wasn’t my step-daughter, and we didn’t have her mother to worry about (or my kids’ dad), my husband and I would’ve moved the kids far away within months after the attack.

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