The recollections of first hearing an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center (immediate reaction was how could this happen?) chased moments later by the announcement that a second aircraft had also hit the complex (and now the how was replaced by why?) and then the mad rush to computers, servers overloaded and shutdown, followed by the dash to television sets as the world slowly joined a seance of beyond-epic proportions and the scale and scope of the catastrophe in the heart of the capital of the world started to be recognized. "Believers and infidels are fighting in the heat, while bodies of the innocent are covered with a sheet."
So overwhelming are individual and collective recollections of what we've come to call 9/11 almost forgotten are the human beings we call the dead and damaged at the Pentagon and the total destruction near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, that marked the end of Flight 93. At some point in history long before we forgot people who have nothing to live for will always find something to die for and then they will want you to die for it, too. 9/11 makes sure we shall always remember. As Winston Churchill observed a lifetime before the carnage arrived on the Lower East Side, 'a fanatic is someone who cannot his mind and will not change the subject.'
The black spot on the calendar is nothing compared to the black hole and the hurt that never heals in the heart. For those with friends and family who went off to work that day, boarded a plane, rode a bus, had an errand that took them into one of the buildings attacked, were emergency responders or circumstances of which, perhaps, only Thornton Wilder could conceive, the pain never eases and the memories never dull.
But for those removed from the epicenter, who began as unwitting spectators, as we move farther from the actual day of the event the ache dulls, we lose sight of the soul of America and allow ourselves to fixate on the latest flavor of looner. Since OJ Simpson and Al Cowlings, we've loved confusing noise with news. The parade of losers who have called shotgun in that White Bronco stretches to the stars and includes the famous and infamous. I'm not sure in which of those to place The Lord's Franchisee from Gainesville, Florida, but while I'm sure he believed Jesus loves him, I hope His Father sees him as the self-aggrandizing a$$hole that he is.
And while the Right Reverend You-Look-Up-His-Name is doing snakes into a cane with his micro nation of hate mongers (because if there's one thing we need more of, especially on this date, it's hate), you have others, like Susan Retik, working to light candles. I came across this profile earlier in the week in the New York Times and would encourage you to spend a moment away from Farmville or THR considering how you can join those who've chosen to be a light rather than a horn.
We will triumph, as a nation, as a culture, as a way of life- not because we have more bombs and bullets, though there's a place for both (and I know young men and women in, and heading into, harm's way at this moment who need both) but because of who we are in moments of great peril, of eminent danger and in enormous sorrow and loss. We will triumph because we define ourselves by listening to our better angels and focusing on what we have yet to do, not dwelling on the evil visited upon us. And because of that we will always win, and those who hate us will lose."Spirits above and behind me/Faces gone, black eyes burnin' bright/May their precious blood forever bind me/Lord as I stand before your fiery light."