“One Moment” a repost of 9/11

Tomorrow is the 8th anniversity of the day that I learned with gut wrenching surprise, that I really loved this nation.  It was the day of my political awakening and the dawning of the uncomfortable knowledge that people I didn’t know nor cared to meet, could change my world forever. 

The following post was written a couple of years ago and reprinted a few times.  It is the story of how I felt on that fateful day when for one moment in time, this nation came together.

In 2001, I was a part of a group that hailed from 4 foreign countries: Canada, UK, Germany, and Australia. During our down time, most of these people would join the Americans in our group in a wonderful pastime of knocking our prospective governments, particularly the U.S.A. because she was the big guy (translation: bully) on the world stage. I paid little heed to this hobby for no other reason than it simply failed to interest me. I didn’t care what some politician did or didn’t do nor did I care with whom he/she did it. A female Secretary of State didn’t impress me one iota. And other than the cases that involved my pet issue, I really found it hard to get all worked up about anything the Supreme Court decided.

On that September morning, I was awaken by a colleague from the U.K. He advised me to turn on my t.v. His voice was solemn and almost expectant; the kind of tone people used when they expect to deal with something they really rather not.

“Is this for real?” I asked when they replayed the two towers crumbling to the ground…it looked like some kind of movie stunt.

“Yes.” he replied, again that pause, that expectant tone that said, please don’t get too emotional.

I watched for a bit, listening to the reporter. Finally, I said, “I’ve got to get dress; I’ve got a client that is intent on making my life miserable.”

“You’re going to work?” he asked incredulously, the first crack in an otherwise deliberately controlled voice.

I frowned, “Why not?”

“Well, there might be…50 thousands deaths, maybe more. YOUR people.”

“Look,” I said, getting pretty angry. I disliked it when things begin to unravel. I like knowing what’s happening and why. And failing that, the probability and the possibility of avoiding negative consequences. “Every year thousands of people die…in hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes. That’s life.”

Silence. I didn’t care. So, I can be pretty cold sometimes. Well, I wasn’t in some popularity contest. If you like what I do, you buy. If you don’t, you go elsewhere. Simple.

I live in the country and the drive to town is long and pretty hectic. Only that day, the freeway is rather empty; except at the openings to the various bases. There, long lines of cars waited to get through what was now heavily secured gates.

By the time I parked my car in the multi garage complex, I was shaking and I didn’t know why. I made my way to the front and climbed the stairs to the building where I worked. Waikiki is one of the hottest tourist attractions in the world, yet on this day, all I saw were two soldiers, perhaps National guardsmen, walking down the street carrying rifles.

I was all alone in the elevator and the ride up seemed to take forever.

My phone was ringing by the time I let myself in. I’m not sure why but I was really surprised when it turned out to be my Canadian client from h*ll. “Did you hear?” I began, then stopped. I could hear the panic in my voice. I swallowed hard and tried again. “My country was attacked.”

And just like that, with zero warning, I realized that I actually loved America. I mean sappy, this is the greatest country in the world kind of loved America. Tears were falling down my cheeks and real grief for those who had been killed began to churn in the pit of my stomach.

I remember thinking of the war stories of my elderly relatives and wondering if we too would have to blacken our windows and ration our food.

In the days that followed, strange things happened. People went to church, children prayed in school, Congress stood on the steps of the Capital and sang God Bless America.

And the courts said “so what” and “too bad” to the ACLU and all those anti-Christian groups.

Cops, Firemen, and soldiers were heroes again.

And for one shiny moment, this nation came together.

For some of us, 9/11 changed everything.

For others, 9/11 only changed … one moment.

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