At the end of this month, "Get the Big Idea" will turn 1 year old. In my first post, Primary Perspectives , I told the blog world that I’d been “writing for some time with a sense of discovery & anticipation, & with a notion that perhaps I have something to say.” Back in early 2007, (pre-blogging) I wrote a piece for a little 'contest' that was supposed to be a 'personal memoir.' Today, the irony of that "memoir's" timely subject is not lost on me, & I’d like to share it with you, very close to its original form, edited only for length/clarity:
Remember Who You Are
Here and now, this may seem a tired incident about which to speak. It may even seem cliché. Some may believe it’s not ‘fresh and new,’ that it’s been overdone, that it’s now passé. My perspective is different. As I examine the brand it has left on me, I hope that God and reason forbids we ever become the hardened, soulless people who could forget the world-shattering shock of it, the cold, calculated, slithering evil of it. God forbid that we dismiss the lasting impressions of what that day did to us, in favor of the next new thing. Surely we won’t. Please tell me, someone, that we’re a people who can cull and sift wisdom from the wreckage and allow it to sear our souls. Tell me that we can become a more convicted nation, looking deeper into ourselves and each other than surface reflection permits.
It all seems, in a way, like a gathering thunderstorm. There was, or must have been, the low rumbling growl. I didn’t hear it, but someone must have. I never saw the approaching thunderhead. I never heard the snarling undertone. But when the onslaught came, there seemed no shelter left to seek.
It could not have been a more splendid day. In my home two little boys dressed for swimming, and I was busy with the machinations of early morning. Daddy had been gone for hours.
Our trip to the Y was commonplace. We were late, at 9:05 am. Another mother slid in beside me on the bench, “Did you hear anything about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center?” she asked.
“What…? Um, no. I didn’t hear,” was my response.
“My husband called me in the car,” she said. “He says a plane crashed into the towers…pilot had a heart attack or something…”
“Hmm. Strange,” was all I offered.
Swim lesson over, & on our way to the library, we stopped for gas. The attendant gave a warning, “Ma’am, you’d better fill up. We may not get any more for days.”
“What…?” I heard echoes of my own voice, an eerie déjà vu snaking up through my awareness.
The radio, ever tuned to news-talk, was crackling with bits and snatches of a story too confusing and unbelievable to be real. The whole dial was swarming with reporters reading fluttering press releases. Descriptions of scenes came from stammering, bewildered voices sketching out the implausible, unimaginable carnage.
“My God...” My gasp was not an expletive; it was a guttural plea. “Oh, my God…”
I drove home through the debris-field of talk radio, trying to make sense of it, with two very normal, oblivious boys in the back seat. Our library, a government building, had closed. Our airport, where my in-laws were to have flown out just that morning, was closed; air traffic locked down. Our own small city --our life-- had suddenly shrunk in around us.
In my own home, unfathomable images violated my TV screen, piercing the heart of our quiet, safe life. Images of destruction, annihilation, and death billowed into our home. My husband & I sat watching in silent awe. Nothing we had ever known had prepared us for this.
The following days and weeks revealed desperation, searing grief, and truly valiant heroism. Officials from all political angles displayed a unity never seen in my lifetime. With remarkable determination, they laid aside agendas to collaborate with angry solidarity for the greater good. For the first time in my thirty-three years, I got it. Along with the tragedy & bitter-sweet heroism, these days revealed the hidden portrait of our American Republic in its purest form. We were, in September 2001, through terrible tragedy, remembering who we are.
I watched my America & our people in action: political enemies embracing; politically correct labels falling away; men, women, & children on their knees seeking God. These things filled me with a love for my country and her people that I had never before experienced. I was never more proud to be American.
Here and now, in the time since 9-11, do we still remember how incredibly exceptional our America is? From that horrible wreckage, what wisdom have we culled & sifted for her? Our Founding Fathers could never have envisioned her modern predicament, but their inspired wisdom laid the foundation for who she is. Have we remembered? Will we allow the lasting impression of that day to instill in us a remembrance of who we’re supposed to be? Oh, I hope so. Someone, please tell me so.
As for me? I am insignificant in a sea of harsh realities. But I am one, & have been branded nonetheless. The imprint of 9-11-01 drives me to live the change that I want to see. I will hold up hope toward each day humbly, & with deep, soul-aching gratitude. I will fiercely cherish those whom I love, knowing that today’s breath could be tomorrow’s memory. I will be gracious to strangers who cross my path, mindful that I, too, am a stranger. And I will add my voice to the conversation of our time, because its dialogue invokes the gravity of our very survival.
On 9-11-01 all pretense was stripped away, and what remained was naked principle. Thus, as a child of the exceptional Republic, an American woman, I will no longer remain silent in my convictions. I will be thankful; and I will remember who I am.
Thank you friends, that so many of you have listened as I’ve told some of my story. Thank you that we’ve wrestled together through our principles, & with any luck we've emboldened our convictions. I am in your debt for your wisdom & your encouragement, & I am grateful. And I will keep remembering.