image from ussartf.org

it’s so hard to believe it was 10 years ago.  i was walking my dog in brentwood, another beautiful morning on the westside, a day like any other. a neighbor asked if i had seen the news. there was a horrible accident in new york. i took hershey home and turned on the tv. i was trying to get my head around what i was seeing when the second plane hit. in that moment, we all knew. this was something bigger, something darker. in that moment, there was an international gasp. in that moment, everything changed.

it was one of those seminal moments in human history. when all we knew or thought we knew was lost forever. when the best and the worst of people came to light. when the courage and heroism of first responders and of ordinary citizens moved you to tears. when the loss of life and the loss of hope was so overwhelming, you didn’t know what to do. when the devastation wrought by a small group of young men in 4 planes was too much to bear. what was happening? were we really under attack? time stood still, as the images replayed over and over.

and then, when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the towers fell. even now, a decade later, remembering that moment, it is hard to breathe. the massive cloud. the ashen people. the darkness. i thought about all those souls. the firemen, climbing up, up, up as everyone else descended. it was all too much. and it still is.

in the following days and weeks, it felt like america was at a crossroads. the world was united with us. which path would we take? the newly created homeland security and their color coded chart did little to alleviate our fears. it was the people who came together – giving what they could. consoling each other. posting photos of their missing loved ones. trying, against all odds, to not give up hope.

last night, for the first time since 2001, i watched documentaries. the images still inconceivable.  all those moments of horror and disbelief and rage and sadness. of heroism and unity and collective grief. and now, 10 years later, so much has been lost. shock and awe. so many lives in iraq and afghanistan. and at some level, the very core of our civil liberties.

10 years.  maybe it’s too soon to know how that day really changed us. all we can do is remember that feeling of wanting to do more. to be more. to unite as citizens of the world. to nurture that sense of community we all felt in those days following september 11th. life has grown more difficult, so many of us struggling financially, but the core of us, the soul of us, is still there, flickering deep down as it was on that fateful day. the best remembrance of all that was lost may be to renew our compassion and try to live our lives as we did a decade ago. to remind ourselves that the world is much smaller and more connected than we thought on september 10, 2001.

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Filed under culture, modern living

2 responses to “9/11/2011…

  1. Vic

    Beautifully written Joyce…I think every single one of us remembers exactly what we were doing on that day, the normalcy that would be turned upside down forever. While we as resolute Americans try our hardest to move on, we will never forget.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to write something so beautiful. I remember Michael calling me from the set he was working on and telling me to turn on the news. I then sat and watched in disbelief. My brain did not know how to process the images it was seeing. I worked for a daily newspaper at the time and I ended up driving into work, not sure if I should or not. I spent a few hours there and was told I could go home if I wanted to. As I was driving home on the 134 fwy through Glendale, there was a man standing on one of the overpasses waving an American flag. I broke down and cried. Thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes. I think we were all looking for some way to deal with what we were feeling, and for this man, he was moved to do this.

    I don’t know that there is a measureable way to calculate what that day did to us individually and collectively. The loss of lives is calculated in a number, but the loss of dreams, memories, and the possibilities of those that died is immeasurable. Not to mention the loss felt by those who loved them.

    September 11, 2001 changed the world, started wars, created fear and hatred of other cultures, and took away freedoms.You can either rise from the ashes and become better or you can become worse. In the past ten years we’ve been at war, greed has done more damage to our economy than the Twin Towers falling, and we seem to be more divided than ever. The saddest thing I have heard lately are the stories of the 9/11 responders who have cancer and are not covered because it has not been proven yet that there is a link between their cancer and working in the ruins at Ground Zero. Nice way to thank heroes, don’t you think?

    I don’t believe that everything in life happens for a reason, but I do think you can give meaning to things, even unfortunate things, that happen. Wouldn’t it give meaning to 9/11 if we became a better country and better humans because of it, took care of the people that helped that day and the many days following, and worked together for our common good?

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