Memories and Memorials

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I am cranky as I write this.

I’m not usually cranky, but I’m writing this on 9/11 and it’s always a hard day not just for our nation, but also for my family and me and many of our friends who personally knew people who lost their lives that day.

Between my two oldest children and I, we lost a dozen. Some were kids that grew up with my children and are even in our home videos. They were young people in my religious ed classes and some who hung out at our house as teens.  Football and softball teammates, classmates, boyfriends, fraternity brothers, clients of mine, fellow parishioners whom we got to know…it was hell on earth for those weeks after the towers went down. Every day someone called to give one of us news about a friend who was now missing … and after the first couple of days of those calls we knew they weren’t just “missing”…they were gone.

I lived in New Jersey then and within a mile of our house was a viewpoint of the New York skyline. I remember going to that place, just days after the tragedy, hoping to maybe find some closure. There were lots of people there, a makeshift memorial had begun taking shape and I was not surprised to see others also in tears as we gazed across the Hudson and saw just smoke where those two shimmering towers stood just a few days before.

I’d grown up in Queens and watched them rise above the trees from my vantage point of the fifth floor apartment that was my home. Some of my classmates’ Dads and older brothers had worked on them.  From my bedroom window I could see the Towers and the Empire State Building and at night when I’d pull my shades before going to bed I often thought that I was saying good-night to three old friends. To me they were guardians of the city that I loved so much.

It was almost mid-October when I made my first visit to the city of my birth after that horrible day. I still vividly recall how stunningly quiet Manhattan was. There were no taxis honking, no one yelling. I didn’t like it; it was like someone had sucked the life out of it. It made me angry that that had happened.  Here I was in Times Square, the heart of the theater district, which is always wall-to-wall people on Wednesday afternoons because that’s matinee day. On that October 10th there was no crush of pedestrians trying to get to their shows on time. In all my years of theater-going, it was the only time I ever remember seeing empty seats when the curtain rose.

One of the most shocking moments for me was when I looked down Broadway and there was bright sunshine filling the concrete canyon as far as you could see. I knew that didn’t look right. Then I realized it was because even from that far away one used to be able to see the shadows of those massive magnificent buildings … and now they were just…gone.

Eleven years later and the newborn children of my kids’ friends are tweens and the toddlers of my friends are teens. Every time I flew back to New York since moving to California I had a hole in my heart when we made our descent into Newark Liberty Airport because the towers weren’t there. I’ve been following the progress of The Freedom Tower online and when I was back last December I was thrilled to see it had risen above the Empire State Building.  Once again, there was a “balance” in my skyline. I went yet again to Ground Zero, having been there when there was just smoking wreckage and a couple of times after they’d cleared the land…and now there is a serenely beautiful memorial in the footprints of the lost buildings. I paid my respects to those who were lost and I am not embarrassed to say I wept…a lot. I don’t know how you can stand on that hallowed ground and not be moved to tears.

So, today I’m cranky. Why?

Because today was not a good day for the United States, and not just because of the history of 9/11. As you no doubt know, Muslim extremists attacked two of our embassies over some perceived insult to their religion.  More Americans lost their lives.

Here’s the bulletin I got on my iPhone from CNN’s Breaking News: Angry protesters attacked U.S. diplomatic compounds in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday, citing in both instances an online film considered offensive to Islam.  

If I thought I was angry in the weeks after 9/11, this made me furious. So, here was my bulletin of “Breaking News” as I posted on Facebook.

I realize this may not be “PC” but this is what made me cranky.

My post read: Hey, guess what? I think it was EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE that some of your misguided zealots killed 3,000 innocent people on 9/11. Are you kidding me???? Get over yourselves … and of ALL days. I like to think of the Freedom Tower as us flipping the bird at Osama and his pals.

Do not misunderstand me; I am not judging all Muslims by the actions of some today. There are good and bad in every nation, every people, every religion.

But today the not-so-good ones ticked off the wrong American. That would be me.

For Jen, Craig, Stacey, Tim, Vio, Tommy, Tim, Scott, Matt, Kevin, John and Ted.



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One Response to Memories and Memorials

  1. Joe Labarrere (MOTNSO) says:

    In four years you’ve said a lot. This was by far the best.

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