Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Forget

I thought long and hard as to whether or not I would mention the attack on the America that occurred 9 years ago today.  I think it deserves mention.  The story needs to be told and told again for future generations.  We can never forget. 

I'll start by telling you my story.  It was a Tuesday and I was living with my parents at the time.  We had planned a family camping trip in Malibu and I had returned the day before so that I could work for a few days during the week and return to Malibu to finish the rest of the vacation with my parents. 

It was early in the morning and I was woken up by a phone call from a friend of mine.  Alexis was a sophomore at Cal State Fullerton and she had gone to her class and been sent home by the professor and told about the attacks.  Her phone call woke me up and then she asked if I was alright and if I'd seen the news. 

I flipped on the television and was stunned in silence. 

I frantically started trying to call my parents, but there was no cell phone reception where they were camping.  It took a few days for them to wander down the way to the Ranger's station while walking the dog and my father finally asked the gentleman in the booth why they would fly the flag at half mast.  Their answer was not at all what I think he was expecting. 

I went on to work at Chili's in Puente Hills for the next several days, but the mood was somber.  Guests wandered in and they almost always sat in the lounge due to the fact that the televisions were playing continuous news coverage.  Other guests took one look at the televisions and wanted to get as far away from that as possible. 

For weeks I can remember every single television channel was playing coverage of the attacks, even MTV and VH1.  It was surreal.  It was all you read about.  It was all you talked about.  It was all you knew. 

Initially, it was all about giving blood and seeing rescue teams try to work through the rubble.  Then, men and women began enlisting like crazy.  Soon, the rescue teams began to shift to recovery teams and the cadaver dogs were brought in.  Ground Zero was no longer a working disaster site, Americans began viewing it as a holy ground.  We had lost brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and friends there.  The Pentagon began rebuilding.  Reports began rolling in about phone calls that were recieved from passengers that had been aboard the fateful planes that day and they were all reports of final goodbyes filled with "I Love You". 

My hands shake and my eyes well up just thinking about it. 

And then I remember the respect that occurred.  Firefighters and search and rescue teams had travelled from accross the United States to be with their NYC brethren.  Our military began gearing up for something fierce.  When you saw anyone in uniform, you smiled at them, shook their hand, said thank you, something.  I pray that today and forever, we continue to this. 

This past January, one of my cousins joined the USMC and I can honestly say that my family has never been more proud. 

But as we as a society begin to grow and rebuild, I challenge myself and others to continue to tell their story.  There is a wonderful organization that has this same idealogy and they are called StoryCorps.  They have published a book that is unlike any other I've ever read.  I picked it up on a whim one day at Starbucks and it has become one of my favorite compilations.  It's called Listening Is An Act of Love and it's a collection of stories told by real people about growing up in America, September 11th, Hurricane Katrina and many more amazing stories of survival and love. 

So go out and love your family and friends today.  Shake the hand of a service man or woman.  Stop at a firehouse or police station with a small gift.  Give thanks, and never forget.