Tuesday, 11 September 2007
If I'd Had a Blog 6 Years Ago, What I Might Have Written
Today I saw something on TV to equal or surpass Pearl Harbor or any other aggressive declaration of war. I had just gotten home from Tesco when the phone rang. "Do you have the TV on?" my husband asked. "Turn it on now." I saw a beautiful autumn day in New York and the World Trade Center on fire. The news presenter said it was a plane. No one was sure if it was an accident. As the news presenters were speaking, another plane appeared and flew into the second tower. Then a news flash: another plane had flown into the Pentagon. I called my husband back. "They're trying to destroy America," I cried. He couldn't or wouldn't stay on the phone. I went back to the TV, watching in disbelief, tears streaming down my face. It was almost time to pick the kids up from school. What do I do? What do I say?
I wore my sunglasses to cover my red and puffy eyes. When I got the kids in the car, I explained that something terrible had happened to those tall buildings we'd seen just two weeks earlier. When we got home, I turned the TV back on. The towers were collapsing. I cried when I saw a black woman turned completely white by the dust. My 5-year-old son laughed. "Why are you laughing?" I asked. "I've never seen a woman cry before," he said.
I turned the TV off. I didn't want the kids to get upset by all the coverage or by seeing me all upset. Several friends called to see if I knew anyone. When my husband got home, I asked him to hang my American flag outside. I'm not a flag waver, but it seemed appropriate. How many survivors will there be? My husband doesn't appear to know anyone directly who was in the building but he knows someone who knows someone who was on the phone to one of the Cazenove guys when the plane flew into the building. He also knows someone who worked in a building right next to the Twin Towers.
AND WHAT I WRITE TODAY:
That American flag was stolen from in front of my house two days later. I have never put another one up since. I went to church on the following Sunday. The vicar's sermon was about how the West deserved this. I walked out and never returned to that church. There have been a lot of TV programs about 9/11 over the past week. I've allowed my children to watch them, disturbing and upsetting as they are, because real life in the wake of 9/11 is disturbing and upsetting. I wish all the madness had ended on that day. It has not. This war on Western civilization is wrong, wrong, wrong -- sinfully, hell-making, furiously wrong. I don't understand Muslims not standing up and telling their murderous brethren that they are all going to hell for their actions. But I also don't understand George W. Bush waging war with the wrong country for the wrong reasons. He will go to hell for his actions as well. It is America's great misfortune that it had one of the stupidest, most inept presidents in its history during the worst attack on its soil ever.
My son does not laugh now when he sees the images from that day. He understands now what it was all about. He understands why we have to stand in lines at airports and take off our shoes and belts and coats. At least they no longer make me lift my shirt to show my underwired bra.
I still cry when I see the images of that day, read the stories of the widows, the survivors, and the dead. I will always cry.