From the Typist: 9/11

Hello! Palabra’s typist, here. Most of you don’t know me very well. I’ve just seen some 9/11 entries in Miss Breezy Carver’s blog and in Miss Kembri Tomsen’s blog. I suppose I felt the need to add my two cents. Late is better than never. Besides, it isn’t as if anyone is going to forget 9/11 anytime soon.

This year, when 9/11 came, I went to work. I run a small snack shop. I went to work because I had to do so. Typically, Sundays are one of our biggest days. It wouldn’t make much sense to close our doors to our customers on a day when they’re more likely to show up in want of refreshments. How would I turn a profit? Still, I felt guilty. I felt guilty for thinking such mercenary thoughts on the anniversary of 9/11. It seemed wrong somehow to go on about my day as if this were just any Sunday.

At work, I did nothing to acknowledge the day. I didn’t bake red, white, and blue fudge or serve an American Special for lunch. I wanted to acknowledge the day, but I didn’t want to profit from it. To serve 9/11 themed food just seemed to be in poor taste. I lived the day as if it were any other. The only difference was the rumbling in the pit of my tummy.

Ten years later, the events of 9/11 still feel fresh. My life is very different now. When the planes hit, I was a college freshman. Today, I am married. I am a homeowner. In a perverse twist of fate, I still supervise a concession stand, although I have done other things in the last decade. I’ve lived in Virginia, New York, L.A., and Ohio. I’ve worked in publishing, in Hollywood, and in the I.T. industry. I’ve suffered crippling Depression, but come through to the other side. I’ve loved and lost, then loved again. I’ve started my life over again more times than I can count. I’ve witnessed earthquakes, wild fires, tornadoes, and the outskirts of a hurricane. A lot can happen in a decade. But some days, I think about those towers, and I’m right back in the doorway of my dorm room as I open it to reveal dozens of young, tear-stained faces. Or I’m walking across the front quad, headed for the library, as I wonder what sounds so different today (it was the lack of planes in the air, I now know). Some days, my heart and my mind forget the intervening years.

Other days, I mourn for those years. I mourn for a generation of veterans and college graduates who came home to a jobless economy. I mourn for the rights and privileges that we sacrificed in exchange for the illusion of safety. I mourn for a once-great nation who struck out, wildly and without reason, at a shadow boxer of an enemy. I mourn the additional loss of life caused by our military action abroad. I mourn the respect and loyalty of other people in other nations. I think 9/11 cost us immensely. The nearly 3000 who died in the initial attack were the first, most earth-shattering loss. Sadly, they weren’t the last.

On days like today, I seethe with anger. I want our enemy to be an easy target. I want our enemy to be a country with a military. I want it to have a city that we can turn into a sheet of glass. I want it to have a capital building to crush into a mere crater. I want it to have a president to bash until he or she is a stain upon the pavement. While I recognize the irony of this — we won our independence from a great power thanks to largely disorganized guerrilla warfare — that knowledge does not change the state of my emotions. We have the “big guns.” We have more nukes than any other nation, even if we and Russia have agreed to reduce our arms. We are still the only country to have ever unleashed anything like it. On days like today, I really want to nuke something. But what?

The effects of 9/11 are still very much with us. I don’t know if, when, or how we’ll ever recover. They say time heals all wounds, but I don’t think ten years has done the trick. I think the U.S. is still reeling from that fateful attack. Perhaps the next generation, those too young to remember where they were that day, will be able to move our country forward once again. Those of us who remember, though, still seem to be suffering a sort of collective PTSD. Life goes on, but it goes on in a manner that is forever altered.

Sadly, I think the terrorists succeeded. I think they did bring our great nation to its knees. I’m not really sure how to stand up again, but I have faith that we will eventually figure it out.

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