Friday, September 9, 2011

Conflicting Feelings and Remembrances

6 years ago on Saturday Adam and I had our first date that started us down the road to wedded bliss.  This day is a happy one for us, but as we celebrate fond memories we remember with the rest of the country the terrible tragedy that occurred while we were both still in high school.

I was 14 and a freshman in high school on September 11, 2001.  I had first block Health Class and my teacher was just as much in the dark as the rest of us.  My next block class was Biology I and I was supposed to have a test that day.

But as some friends and I walked in joking around to see my biology teacher, Mr. Miller, sitting on his stool in front of the TV which was highly unusual.  We all dropped our books on our desks and walked up to see what was going on.  Mr. Miller told us what had happened and we sat in shock and aw as the second plane hit and then news rolled in about the Pentagon and United 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.

I am a normally very teary person, but I didn't manufacture tears, I was in too much shock.

We watched as people chose to jump, rather than burn or die from smoke inhalation.  The Towers fell, and heroes died trying to save as many of the victims in the Towers as they could.

The rest of the day passed by subdued and still quickly.  We still went out on the marching band field and I can't even remember what we did in Algebra that day, if we did anything.  I went home and turned on CNN.  The whole day is one I won't ever forget, as long as I live.

The country came together and I hope that as we remember 9/11/01 ten years later, that politics stay out of it.  I hope we can come together as a country again to remember those who perished in this terrible tragedy and continue to move forward as a country.

Keep yourselves safe, and hug your loved ones.

I leave you with a video from September 20, 2011.  The opening monologue of Jon Stewart's from the Daily Show, the first one after 9/11.  His raw emotions speak to me, and I think it is one of the most honest moments in the media done by a performer who makes his living on parody news and comedy.  Words really can't describe how much this video means to me.

Here is the transcript if you don't want to watch.

DATE: September 20, 2001

Good evening and welcome to "The Daily Show." We are back. This is our first show since the tragedy in New York City. There is no other way really to start this show than to ask you at home the question that we've asked the audience here tonight and that we’ve asked everybody that we know here in New York since September 11th, and that is, "Are you okay?" We pray that you are and that your family is. I’m sorry to do this to you. It’s another entertainment show beginning with an overwrought speech of a shaken host. TV is nothing, if not redundant. So, I apologize for that. It’s something that unfortunately, we do for ourselves so that we can drain whatever abscess is in our hearts and move onto the business of making you laugh, which we really haven’t been able to do very effectively lately. Everyone’s checked in already, I know we’re late. I’m sure we’re getting in right under the wire before the cast of "Survivor" offers their insight into what to do in these situations.

They said to get back to work. There were no jobs available for a man in the fetal position under his desk crying, which I would have gladly taken. So I came back here. Tonight’s show is obviously not a regular show. We looked through the vaults, we found some clips that we thought might make you smile, which is really what’s necessary, I think, right about now. A lot of folks have asked me, "What are you going to do when you get back? What are you going to say?" I mean, what a terrible thing to have to do. I don’t see it as a burden at all. I see it as a privilege. I see it as a privilege and everyone here does see it that way. The show in general, we feel like is a privilege. Just even the idea that we can sit in the back of the country and make wise cracks, which is really what we do. We sit in the back and we throw spitballs, but never forgetting the fact that is a luxury in this country that allows us to do that. This is a country that allows for open satire, and I know that sounds basic and it sounds as though it goes without saying - but that’s really what this whole situation is about. It’s the difference between closed and open. It’s the difference between free and burden and we don’t take that for granted here by any stretch of the imagination and our show has changed. I don’t doubt that. What it’s become, I don’t know. "Subliminal" is not a punch line anymore. One day it will become that again, and Lord willing, it will become that again because that means we have ridden out the storm.

But the main reason that I wanted to speak tonight is not to tell you what the show is going to be. Not to tell you about all the incredibly brave people that are here in New York and in Washington and around the country. But we’ve had an enduring pain here - an endurable pain. I wanted to tell you why I grieve, but why I don’t despair…I’m sorry. Luckily we can edit this. One of my first memories is of Martin Luther King being shot. I was five and if you wonder if this feeling will pass…When I was five, he was shot. Here’s what I remember about it. I was in a school in Trenton. They shut the lights off and we got to sit under our desks and we thought that was really cool and they gave us cottage cheese, which was a cold lunch because there was rioting, but we didn’t know that. We just thought that “My god. We get to sit under our desks and eat cottage cheese.” That’s what I remember about it. That was a tremendous test of this country’s fabric and this country’s had many tests before that and after that.

The reason I don’t despair is because this attack happened. It’s not a dream. But the aftermath of it, the recovery is a dream realized. And that is Martin Luther King's dream. Whatever barriers we've put up are gone even if it's momentary. We're judging people by not the color of their skin but the content of their character. You know, all this talk about "These guys are criminal masterminds. They’ve gotten together and their extraordinary guile…and their wit and their skill." It's a lie. Any fool can blow something up. Any fool can destroy. But to see these guys, these firefighters, these policemen and people from all over the country, literally, with buckets rebuilding. That's extraordinary. That's why we've already won. It's light. It's democracy. We've already won. They can't shut that down. They live in chaos and chaos…it can't sustain itself. It never could. It's too easy and it's too unsatisfying.

The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center and now it's gone. They attacked it. This symbol of American ingenuity and strength and labor and imagination and commerce and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that.

So we're going to take a break and I'm going to stop slobbering on myself and on the desk. We’re going to get back to this. It's gonna be fun and funny and it's going to be the same as it was and I thank you. We'll be right back. 

1 comment:

Sarah @ ExPat Bride said...

I can't believe it's been 10 years. I really wish I could remember more of it. I was 11 (nearly 12) and that's old enough to remember things, but I was too young and naive to really understand so a lot went right over my head. I remember thinking, "why is everyone freaking out about a plane crash? surely those happen all the time." And even though I asked questions, no one really took the time to explain it to me. I'm still putting pieces together today that are starting to make my observations at the time make sense.