On a Day Like Today

If you were old enough to remember what happened thirteen years ago today, you most certainly have one of the “where were you” answers.

I was at home in San Diego, getting out of bed slowly since we had a barely-three month old baby. I was getting ready to nurse her and get the boys off to school when my husband called me from work to tell me to turn on the television.

I sat in our bedroom watching the television in horror – like most Americans that morning, glued to the constant news coverage.

I took my boys to school – one in the first grade and the other in preschool – and parents were all in a daze. Everyone was in a daze. I walked into the preschool building and had doubts about leaving my son there. As I signed him in, parents all around me were voicing the same issues.

It wasn’t that we felt our little corner of San Diego county would be a target or that we would be in any real danger like what was happening in New York and Pennsylvania but it was more a fear of wanting to keep all your loved ones close by, within contact, protected.

I didn’t want my little ducks where I couldn’t see them, hug them, watch them.

It’s cliché to say that our world changed that day. Sure, we have a voice in the airports now warning us of the security level and to not leave your bags unattended and we have to take off our shoes to go through major security…

What really changed is how vulnerable we are as a society now. I used to think it was sad how the children of the forties and fifties had to learn how to “duck and cover” in case of a nuclear bomb and what a horrible thing for little kids to be in constant fear like that. And yet here we are – my children will only remember the days as they are today: with constant battles to keep our country safe from the terrorists who want to destroy us.

What really changed is how I can’t sit in an airplane anymore without at least thinking about what happened on September 11th. I can’t help myself from thinking the horror those people must have felt and how I just want to hold my children’s hands and keep them safe, always, even though I know I can’t. Not really. And certainly not forever.

What really changed is how we are no longer so footloose and fancy free. We look at people differently. Our world got uglier and nastier after that day. We are more guarded and careful. There is a darker cloud over us now that hadn’t been there in a good long time.

I suppose we were never really free from the fear, the war, the terror, the ugliness – it has been with us since the very beginning of our country – it’s just that when so many years separate the problems, we grow complacent and cavalier.

Even as the years move us further and further from that fateful day, we are sometimes more complacent…and then September 11th arrives on the calendar again and we are once again reminded. Oh yeah. We aren’t the same anymore.

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