Friday, September 12, 2014

254/365-2 Contemplate


It is hard for me to believe that this is the thirteenth anniversary of the horrific attacks on this country on September 11, 2001.  The sounds, images, and emotions of that day are still as vivid as if they were yesterday.  As I talked with my freshman college students yesterday, I realized that most of them were in kindergarten on this day in 2001; most of them were sheltered and protected from the intense grief and sorrow that blanketed this country as a result of the expressed hatred on that day.  What does it feel like to have only a second-hand remembrance of September 11, 2001?

Every lifetime has such a day.  For me it is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jr.  I now live fifteen miles, maybe a little less, from the place where this great man lost his life at the hands of a gunman; yet, it is a story to me.  I was not even two years old at the time.  I don't know what it felt like to be a citizen in a country whose leader had just been gunned down.  I don't know what it felt like to hear that news on the television and radio.  I don't know what it felt like to watch his funeral.  I don't know what that day felt like.

I do know what 9/11 felt like.  My ex-husband, the father of my then 8 and 11 year old daughters, was on a plane that morning.  Fortunately that day he was heading to Atlanta, not New York City where he had been the previous week.  I remember how relieved I was to hear that he was safely on the ground.  I remember wondering what my children were being told at school.  (As it turned out, the fourth grader knew exactly what was going on because her class had been listening to the radio all day.  The seventh grader knew nothing.  The middle schoolers were kept in the dark; their teachers decided that it was better for parents to talk about the event with their children.)  I remember a country full of people so often totally self-absorbed suddenly craving community.  I remember feeling helpless.  I remember feeling.

As intense as my feelings were and perhaps still are surrounding the events of September 11, 2001, I know that they are nothing compared to those of the people whose lives were physically touched that day.  The people on each of the downed planes, the people in the World Trade center and the Pentagon, the people on the streets of New York City, the fireman and policemen whose job it was to rush without hesitation into the midst of the devastation, the people wondering about loved ones, the people caring for the first responders, the people doing the long term clean-up, even the people responsible for building Freedom Tower - there is no way for us to ever experience the intensity of their emotions surrounding this awful day.

The fire department in the next town over from us remembered their brother and sisters of the fire department in NYC who served so bravely that day by placing a simple but powerful display on the lawn in front of the fire station.  I thought long and hard about how to photograph the emotions of 9/11 and came to the conclusion that I could not do it adequately.  I went with the concrete image.  I think it says a lot.

The men and women of our fire and police departments get up and go to work every day knowing that on any day they could be called to serve their community and their country in exactly the same way that those first responders in New York City did.  We all pray that there is never another event like 9/11, but we all know that there are no guarantees in this world.  It could happen again.  I am grateful for all of those who serve and train to protect us.  Thank you!

Here is today's photo mandala.