Sunday, September 11, 2011

How September 11th Impacted My Life

Image Source: art brokerage

Painting by Peter Max available for purchase at this website.

As always, I missed a couple of big opportunities this week, writing-wise. Of course, all of the sites I write for were promoting September 11th articles to the hilt in anticipation of today's anniversary, and I received several offers of paid assignments by Yahoo to pen some pieces from the perspective of a New Yorker.

Well, I jumped on the bandwagon a little too late, not really wanting to revisit that horrible day in any way, but on Friday I was asked to talk about it with my class and in doing so, the outpouring of thoughts came freely from my mind. Yesterday I decided to accept one of the assignments, "How 9/11 has impacted your life," and the thing took ,me over four hours to finish.

It was tough to write the piece because I didn't think what I had to say would be taken too kindly. I think a lot of mistakes have been made since that day on the part of our leaders and all of the good things that came out of that terrible tragedy were squandered. The assignment said that it shouldn't be a rant and in my first, second and even third drafts it sounded too much like one to me, so I whittled it down to what I thought was an acceptable piece.

What I didn't realize, however, was that the article needed to be reviewed by the folks at Yahoo and so when I went to publish it, the site told me that it had been submitted for review. All last night I thought and thought about it and I finally decided that if it hadn't gotten published by this morning then I would take it down, which I did. Luckily for me I have this forum to share my stuff and so here I present to you what would have appeared possibly on Yahoo News had I penned it just a few days earlier. Oh well, c'est la vie!

How September 11th Impacted My Life

Tomorrow is Sunday, September 11th, 2011, the ten year anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks on the United States and since it’s such a noteworthy occasion, we were asked at school to address the issue in some way with our students. At first I hadn’t planned on doing so. Memories of that day hearken feelings of apathy and regret towards the state of our country, and I am sad not only for the victims of those horrific attacks, but for the circumstance we find ourselves in today. In the end I addressed the issue and in the interim I found hope for a better future.

September 11, 2001 was a monumental day in our history and I found the best way to discuss it would be to tell the story from my perspective, explaining to my students in detail the timeline of the events and the impact it had on myself and my fellow Americans as it unfolded. I showed them a video montage of the things that went on that day. Watching it again gave me hope that maybe tomorrow’s remembrance will bring togetherness back into our discourse.

As it did for many of us, the events that occurred on September 11th, 2011 ignited within me a myriad of feelings, from horror, grief, and anger to compassion for my fellow human beings who suffered firsthand. I felt a deep sense of pride in my country. Being a lifelong New Yorker, I was especially grief-stricken for the city I loved so much, a city in which I’ve spent many happy memories.

Before Hurricane Irene hit Long Island a couple of weeks ago I had been met with the same kind of compassion that I had last seen ten years ago. The kindness and camaraderie that existed in the months after the attacks seem to have dissipated completely since then, but what I experienced before the storm gave me hope that compassion still exists, and I hope that our leaders use the anniversary to bridge the divide that’s existed since 2001.

Today we live in a flagging economy, with many losing their homes, their livelihoods and their dignity. The middle class erodes on a daily basis and we are left with only the haves and the have-nots. The entire political realm seems disconnected from reality and the bad news continues to pour in at seemingly every turn. For the past ten years I’ve become apathetic towards our political system and I no longer follow politics as a result. The situation seemed hopeless, but maybe that can change.

Watching that video yesterday brought me to tears, tears in remembrance of what happened that day and tears for what has happened since. Perhaps with all of the ceremonies going on tomorrow, people will be reminded of what it was like in the months after 9/11 and regain some of that pride in “United We Stand.” Maybe then we can once again work together for our common good and right ourselves once again.

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