Remembering the day that proved to world that we are indeed The UNITED States of America…today, I, along with millions of Americans, remember the 2,796 citizens of the world that were lost to us on this day, 10 years ago.
“Since then, I’ve stopped crying. But I haven’t stopped missing my dad.” said Peter Negron, a young man, then a small boy, who lost his father that day.
It’s been a long road, but I think I finally stopped crying when I finally stopped trying to make sense of what happened. At some point, I had to let it go and accept that despite my core belief to the contrary, some human beings can, in fact, be purely evil. But this post ain’t about them, it’s about us.
It takes a good deal of trust to live in this world. When we step out on the Walk sign at an intersection, we trust that the cars will stop before running us down. When we shake a stranger’s hand, we trust that he hasn’t done too many untoward things with said hand before offering it to us in greeting. When the doors close on the subway, we trust that all of the folk on that train are going to act right. (ok, so you know the guy talking to himself and scratchin’ his ass in the corner is gonna act up but he’s your uncle and you love him anyway.) This trust is based on human nature and a lifetime of data points – instances where folks have just acted right…made the right choices…done the right things.
Without that trust, there’d be little difference between wild animals and us – we’d also be skittish, driven purely by instinct and prone to eat raw meat. Our survival, even our excellence, as a species has depended on our ability to trust people even those that we do not know or understand, particularly in America where personal liberties reign supreme. We got nothing but our individual spiritual beliefs (or the lack thereof,) our American values and our mamas’ guilt trips to keep us in line. And somehow, warts and all, we made it work.
So, 9/11 rocked, wrong tense – rocks, us to our very core because it attempted to screw with the trust that is the essence of who we are as Americans.
This act of mass, senseless murder was not an attack on our buildings, our economy, our mobility — this act of terrorism was an attack on our American…ness…ism..stuff. And we ain’t toleratin’ that foolishness. They may break our individual hearts but they will never break our collective resolve.
Our best defense is to continue being American, in all its flawed and shining glory. Trust one another in a vigilant, suspicious kinda way. Grope someone at the airport. Restore our belief in one another as Americans of different faiths. Talk bad about each other but get in the ass of any outsider who tries to do the same. Demand all of your personal freedoms, even the ones you’re not using at the moment, until you annoy everyone around you. Watch too much T.V. Call your Congressperson and give ‘em hell cuz you had a bad day. Enjoy your “unentitled” sense of entitlement. Move your old sofa to the porch and drink moonshine from a two-toned jug through your missing front teeth. Legally marry your second cousin unless you’re the same gender. Flip off the little, old lady who drives like Mr. Magoo and cuts you off in traffic because she can’t see over the dashboard but don’t be shocked when she returns the favor cuz that’s how my Nana rolls.
Damn! I love you people! *sniff*
Whatever you do…never forget 9/11 and the brave men and women who took a stand for America that day continuing the bond of trust that made us great.
I am an American.
God bless The United States of America.