Monday, May 22, 2006

Remember When?

Summary: I know just about every one of us can remember where we were on September 11, 2001. But how well do we remember how we felt that day? And does it really matter?

I had just gotten out of the shower the morning of September 11, 2001, and the radio was on in the bedroom. I vaguely heard something about an airplane hitting a tower in New York. I will admit that my initial reaction was excitement at first, because I thought maybe the plane had hit the United Nations building. No matter how bad I still despise the UN, I feel bad now that I thought that.

When I found out that actually one of the World Trade Center towers had been hit, I grew just a little bit numb. It was hard to imagine that it had been on purpose--until the second plane hit the second tower.

I went to work, and everyone who had a television had it turned on. I didn't get much work done that day. Once it was clear what had happened, the president of Brigham Young University called a special devotional assembly so that we could pay tribute to those of many nations whose lives had been taken by terrorists. I went home and talked to my family about it all for most of the evening.

In the few days that followed, I wanted to donate blood, but there were already too many donors. As what had happened unfolded, I somehow didn't mind if my National Guard unit were called up to go to Afghanistan. We flew our flag in front of our house for several days. I flew a window flag in my car everywhere I went. And I remember that a whole bunch more people came to church for the next few Sundays than usually did.

It's been almost 5 years now. You know, it's funny how I remember more about where I was and what I saw than how I felt.

I wonder if you are like me? Do you remember how you felt on that day? Or is it easier to remember where you were? Why? Is life too busy that we don't take time to remember? Maybe it's not important. But wait...

I'll bet you felt a little closer to God for a while. I'll bet you felt good going to church a little more often. I'll bet you felt that America was the greatest country in the world and that we had done nothing to deserve such desecration by fundamentalist Islamic lunatics. I'll bet you even wanted to find out more about Islam so you could figure out if they were all this crazy. I'll bet you wanted to go out and do something about it. And, I'll bet you said "I'll support President Bush in doing anything he can to track down the people who are behind this and make sure that it never happens again."

Come to think of it...I still feel that way. I found out that not really very many Muslims are crazy (but a few still are) and I'm glad for that. I'm still convinced that America is the greatest nation on the earth, and we didn't do anything to deserve what happened on 9/11. And I still support President Bush in doing whatever is necessary to ensure that it doesn't happen again. (My research indicates that based on such things as WMDs and the al Qaeda-Iraq connection ,"whatever is necessary" includes building a free Iraq.)

What makes America the greatest nation on earth is our ability and desire to continue to give, even in the face of the abusive lies we endure both from the world and even from some of our fellow Americans who ought to know better. What makes America great is that we have never kept the spoils of war; not only have we helped our friends rebuild from the destruction of war, we have helped our enemies to do so as well. And in every one of these cases, our enemies have become friends in the marketplace of nations.

In future years, when we look back on 9/11, we'll also be able to remember when we used to serve in Iraq, and how we helped our Iraqi brothers and sisters to achieve liberty. The Iraqis as well will have become our friends in the marketplace of nations. I'm convinced it will be a fond memory. And how we felt will have mattered a great deal and in a very good way.


Kim said...

First and foremost I want to thank you for your service. Thank you. You are an excellent writer and I enjoy reading your posts very much. I volunteer at the USO at DFW airport. We mainly service the soldiers on their R & R rotation, but all military and their famlies are welcome. I remember very well how I felt on 9/11. It was the moment that redefined who I am, what I believe. My strongest emotion on 9/11 was pure unadultrated anger. After 9/11, I got involved in President's Bush's re-election campaign. After winning that election and with plenty of time on my hands, I began looking for others ways to donate my time. President Bush stated if American's wanted to help with the war on terror, they should get involved in their communities. By some stroke of luck, I came across the USO and have been volunteering ever since. It is a great honor and privlige to spend the day with our heroes in uniform. I recently saw the movie, "United Flight 93" and all the feelings of 9/11 came back, just as strong as ever. Stay safe over there and again, thank you so much for service and sacrifice.

Frank Staheli said...


Thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad you enjoy my posts. I don't get a lot more readers than commenters, so it's great to hear that someone enjoys my words. It gives me an incentive to keep on writing!

Thanks again. And thank you foremost for becoming involved and making a difference in the world. Dallas was a fabulous experience when I came through on leave few months ago! Especially the USO.


Matt said...

I remember thinking it was a joke at first. I hadn't seen the first plane hit the North tower. I told my friends, "Oh, you're thinking of the '93 bombing." We then turned on the TV and saw the second plane hit the South tower. I still didn't believe it, thinking it was a joke. I said, "I got bets on the Pentagon." Then when the Pentagon was hit, I realized it was for real. It was not a joke and that something very sinister was afoot. I remember for the first time in my life (I was born in the mid '80s) feeling very vulnerable. I vaguely remembered watching the Gulf War I, Kosovo and the Balkans conflict, and never thinking a war could be played out on our soil. I remember by the end of the day I decided we should do all we can to end this threat. I remember the entire country was united, everyone was afraid. I remember the President saying at Ground Zero, "I can hear you, America hears you, and pretty soon the people that knocked down these builidngs will hear all of us." Most importantly Frank, I remember nobody saying, "Oh, we should wait for them to attack us before we put an end to the threat." I remember everybody saying, "Regardless of where this threat is, whatever countries, we need to take it out and now." Now look! It's been almost five years. The country is divided. People have grown soft. Oh, this law or that law is invasive, blah blah blah. I have a message to all Americans: Remember how you felt that day! That is how you will be feeling if we stop what we're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan! That is what you will be feeling if we don't stop Iran, and remember we don't have to do this militarily. That's what you'll be feeling if we don't go after all the other Islamic state-sponsors of Islamic terrorism. You will feel that way everyday till we cease to exist because we didn't have the stomach for this fight, that we thought appeasment would naviely work. Never forget!

Mary*Ann said...

I remember and think about it often. At first it seemed like time stopped. I was at work and we just happened to have a tv on the sales floor. Several employees and customers stood watching in disbelief, then the second plane hit. I went to the service desk and called my husband and all I could think to say was "this is the end of the world as we know it" trying to calm me he said "maybe not". But I knew that it was true and I still believe it is true. I think a lot of people felt that way and now have forgotten. They have forgotten the '93 bombing of the towers, the Marine Barracks, the Cole....this started a long time ago and I really think we are fighting for our culture and civilization.

I am grateful everyday for our military and their families that give so much of themselves for the rest of us. Semper Gratus

Elizabeth said...

Well, I was right here in New York City that day. The first thing I felt, obviously, was fear. I was at a conference at the Waldorf-Astoria. The first thing I wanted to do was flee that landmark hotel. We had no idea whether there might be more attacks or where they would be.

I walked home; it's about two miles downtown from the Waldorf Astoria. The streets were packed with all kinds of people going uptown; it was like swimming against the tide. I could see the solid-looking, grey cloud of concrete dust and debris sitting on the horizon. I'd never seen anything like it--a cloud that looked like it was made of concrete. After a mile the air was filled with dust and tiny bits of paper and I began to fear that I wouldn't be able to go home. I took a break in a bistro and watched the news. When we saw the picture of the towers coming down, someone started screaming. Other people were trying to call people on their cell phones, but the phones didn't work. Some people were crying.
I got to my apartment and the air was no worse there. It mainly stunk of burning jet fuel and dust. After a couple of days, it rained and that was the end of the stink in my neighborhood, but the smell continued for months afterward on the West side because of the underground fires that continued to burn. The thunderstorms woke me up at night and I thought they were bombs.

I became more politically active, but I did not work for Bush. I went the other way. I decided to find out more about the chain of events and different factors that led to this state of the world.

When I think of Sept. 11 now what I feel is sadness. I feel sad for the thousands killed, and how some of them died--in horrible ways. I feel sad for the loss of a landmark building. People in my field--psychology--know that anger is a defense against feeling sad or afraid.

Lola said...

I believe this is a conversation we will still have with our children and grand-children in the years to come. My heart still breaks when I see the images and remember the disbelief I felt on 9/11. I was much younger and much more naive' - I have now realized we live in a world where people hate our way of life and will actually kill innocent people based on that hatred. But, the people who perished in 9/11 will always be remembered and we owe it to their families to continue our fight against the terrorist and madmen who orchestrated the massacre. This is also why we must ensure victory in Iraq to prevent the same type of attack from the terrorist in that country.
Thank you so much for your brave and courageous service to protecting our great country!

Frank Staheli said...

Lola, Elizabeth, Maryann, Matt, Kim, and hopefully others: I have enjoyed reading the comments to this post as much if not more than the comments to any other post. It is poignant to know a little bit more about each other as we find out where we were, how we felt, and how it affected our lives and the lives of future generations.

Thank you all so much.


WW said...

The events of 9/11 has nothing to do with the war in Iraq. Not that Frank would ever admit it, because to admit that would be to tell the truth. Which is something that Frank is genetically incapable of ever doing.

Frank Staheli said...

Whiskey Whiskey,

I am constantly wondering as to your genetic predisposition!

Or is it the fact that you are inebriated when you post comments on my site?

Of course 9/11 and Iraq are related. If you would like to explain why they're not, let me know what your new blog site is, and I will promise not to make stupid comments on it.