Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never forget that, either.

(Seriously? Has it really been since August 22? Woops.)

I got up at around 4:30 this morning because I had to take my nephew Cody to the airport - he'd flown in for his first game at Autzen as an official Duck. It was dark and when it's dark I always get sort of introspective and lonely. It's also 9/11, and because of that, this weekend I've been thinking about that day ten years ago a lot.

I'm seeing a lot of posts on Facebook about "where were you" and "never forget". It's haunting to read them, and brings me back to my own experience of that day. What I remember most is how, in the days and weeks to follow, we as a society were a lot more mindful of one another. We looked at strangers as though we were friends, we let people in front of us on the street and in the supermarket, we held elevators and opened doors for others. And we looked each other in the eye - always in the eye. Searching for that commonality, and finding it. We were in this together, and it was sobering and scary. A bunch of my friends and I went to the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest the next weekend wearing our US flag tshirts and stopping on the freeway to light candles with strangers, and late in the night we formed a line, arm in arm, friend next to stranger, and marched down the middle of the festival singing "God Bless the USA". We watched footage, we scoured newspapers, we swore we would never forget.

But I kind of think we may have forgotten already.

Not the events of 9/11, not the loss of life, not the sacrifices of the fire- and policemen, not the news coverage that brought the horror into our living rooms and office lunch rooms. I'm sure no one will ever forget that. But I think we've forgotten how we felt about one another, the brothers-in-arms-ness, the we're-in-this-together-ness. Slowly we stopped being mindful of one another, eventually we stopped letting people cut in front of us. We stopped looking each other in the eye and went back to being mindful only of ourselves and what was ours.

I guess it's human nature - you can't expect that kind of consideration when life goes on, can you? Every day the work that needs to get done gets done because we are on track, focused, driven to get out there and get it done. Slower paces drive us crazy and time is money. But really, I still got just as much done ten years ago today, this week, this month, when we were still reeling from the shock of it, from the fear that formed the solidarity we as Americans felt. I still finished my errands, and got to work on time, and pleased my clients just as quickly and efficiently as I do now, while I'm not necessarily being mindful, when I know the other person isn't being mindful, of a sense of community, of that we're-in-this-together-ness.

The sentiment remains: Never forget. It was a terrifying and confusing time, and we WILL never forget. But I propose we also never forget the effect those events had on each of us, and try to remember that solidarity, that mindfulness, and that consideration of our fellow countrymen.


At 9:26 AM, September 11, 2011, Anonymous jackie said...

It's on my mind alot this morning too.

At 9:45 AM, September 11, 2011, Anonymous Becky, aka President of the Duck Fan Club, Chiapas branch said...

Seriously awesome post. You blow me away with your eloquence...again! I didn't experience any of what you are talking about because I was in Mexico 10 years ago. It's a weird feeling to not be a part of the (good?) that came from that horribly tragic day. I have never been able to express why I felt like I missed something not being in the US, but reading your blog, I think now I am able to. Thank you.

At 11:05 AM, September 11, 2011, Blogger JJ said...

You're welcome, President Beckla! I was just discussing it with Gay Neighbor Geoff and he felt the same way. I think today is a good day to listen to people when they share their individual stories of that day.

At 4:26 PM, September 11, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully spoken Joyce!! It is one of those moments our generation will forever remember where they were and what they "stopped" doing as we watched in horror. I associate it with the moment that JFK died, and, were my parents still here, they could tell me about the day of Pearl Harbor!! There are really not many moments in our lifetime that we truly remember, but, aside from the birth of my two kids,their weddings, the births of their kids, 9/11 will always be in my memory and almost on a daily basis for the past 10 years. Sad thing is, I have found myself looking at people in a different, and not so good way. That bothers me.

At 9:43 PM, September 11, 2011, Blogger Rebecca said...

Permission to re-post? You captured that time perfectly. I bought a flag shirt, too. Exactly what I would write if I could write like you Joyce.

At 6:17 AM, September 12, 2011, Blogger JJ said...

Sure, Becky. Thanks for the nice comments, all. :)

At 1:59 PM, September 12, 2011, Anonymous Barbie said...

You should post this in the Oregonian. Great blog.


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