Sammy has no clue about 9/11. He will learn about it from history books. Just as I learned about Pearl Harbor from history books. There is a disconnect when you learn about something from a history book. It may or may not mean much to him but my guess is that it will mean as much to him as Pearl Harbor did to me. I was sad that those lives were lost and that our country was attacked but I just don’t have a direct line to it.
I was living in Kentucky with my ex-wife and step son (he was 7 years old) when 9/11 occurred. I won’t get into the details about where I was and all that but I remember getting home from work and turning the news on. The news remained on for a week or two solid. I was trying to take it all in. I was trying to understand it in order to properly talk to my step son about it. I did not have the words to do so other than simply saying it was a terrorist attack, etc. etc.
Now I look at Sammy. His innocence is magical to see. He just doesn’t understand the ways of the world yet. One day he will…just like we all do. My hope is that Annie and I can instill compassion in him. Compassion for his fellow man. To help those less fortunate than him. To help those facing adverse conditions. I hope he can be someone that brings people together and provide a shoulder to cry on.
When things like 9/11 happen the only thing that really pays off, the only thing that really allows for us to move on…is to be there for each other. Remember the weeks after 9/11? Politicians crossed party lines. The rich comforted the poor and the poor comforted the rich. Black and white didn’t exist for a moment in time.
Why is that? Because 9/11 was, without question, the worst thing we faced. It was surreal, shocking, scary, and left unanswered questions. It was bigger than us. It was bigger than all of the petty crap we face in this country like whether gay marriage is good or bad, race, wealth and poverty, and so on. It was the only thing I have witnessed in my 38 years that literally got rid of all labels.
For one day, maybe for a few weeks…we were all vulnerable Americans.
I hope Sammy never has to live through something like 9/11 but my guess is that it’s inevitable. And all I can say is that it’s scary. It’s difficult to watch your neighbors and fellow Americans suffer. Hold on to that feeling. Compassion and kindness will get you further and probably help those around you a lot more than anything else.
In the pain from 9/11 came a compassion I have never seen this country exhibit. Turns out that vulnerable Americans are pretty damn strong.