Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Days After 9/11

This little article was first published on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack. I think it only fitting in light of the events of the past week, with regards to the Boston Marathon bombing, to release it again.

I had originally postulated that I was going to post an article about the 9/11 rescue workers to honor them on the ninth anniversary of the attack. So I went out onto the Internet and looked for interesting pieces about heroic stories and videos, as well as posting on my Facebook a request to my friends asking them if they knew of anybody who would be interested in sending me a personal account. On the heroic stories side of it, the major networks and radio stations had the area pretty much covered and copyrighted, so that angle didn’t really work out too well. On the videos, well there are plenty of things that were bad, some that were okay, but none that really covered anything I wanted to do. As well as the fact that posting videos is kind of the lazy way for me to stall for time or play with the buttons while I’m setting up my blog and I think for the most part posting videos here is going to be a thing of the past. That’s okay as my original intent was to put things here which I had either written myself or a friend has written or that followers of this blog send to me.

Having none of those things pan out on the subject that I wanted to cover I now find myself on the eve of 9/11 writing my own viewpoint on the subject that I wanted to cover, which is what I should have done in the first place. And why not? It has the benefit of having never been tried before. So here goes…

When I look at 9/11 and what occurred that day, in my mind there is first, the striking violence of it. Second, the rescue workers and other heroes; some who paid the ultimate price for their efforts to save the lives of the other people in the buildings that were attacked. The third is the calm and orderly way that the people of New York evacuated the area to allow the authorities to do what they had to do.

The above three things were both tragic and great at the same time and have all been covered by the press extensively. Part of my quandary is that those things were all covered so well that I though there was no more space to fill on the subject. That all things were so thoroughly written about that nothing was left for me to post.

About two days ago that assessment proved to be false. Sure that day was covered and reviewed from every conceivable angle. But what about the next day? Or the day after that? Or after that? Yes, flag sales went through the roof. Everybody had one on their car or in front of their house and the country showed a unity that is all too uncommon in these days. Even the Democrats and Republicans in Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol building and sang “God Bless America.” But there was something else that happened which I think was even cooler than that and I don’t know how many people were paying attention.

I was listening to the radio one day shortly after the attack, becoming quite the news junkie as we all were at the time, and happened to hear that the rescue workers were having trouble with their shoes getting torn up on the debris of the two towers. By the next day there were mounds and mounds of shoes and work boots piled up around ground zero. By the day after that they were announcing “enough with the shoes, thank you America!” They called for blood and within the next day or two the Red Cross was overwhelmed and turning people away. The workers on the scene became worn out and right away hundreds of cities across the country were offering thousands of police and firefighters as well as clean-up crews to help. “We need water,” was almost immediately answered by trucks full of water being shipped in from around the country as well as thousands of New Yorkers piling thousands of cases of bottled water as close to the scene as they could place them. By the time they got to “we need food,” the boxes of canned goods would pile up outside of ground zero before the sentence was even finished. Everything I heard of that was asked for was provided in huge quantities and always resulted in announcements within forty-eight hours of the initial request stating “okay enough of _____.”

Well I ask you who did that? Was it the government? Was it some big charity organization? Was it big business? Was it the magical shoe elves that made the shoes for the shoemaker in the fairy tale that most of us heard when we were growing up? No, it was none of these things. Rather it was millions of people, who were paying attention and cared, who went out of their way and tried to help in any way that they could. We didn’t shrug our shoulders and say “let someone else get it.” We all stepped to the plate and did what needed to be done.

That is one of the things I saw during that time which sticks with me to this day; the hundreds of millions of people who worked together doing all of the smaller things which allowed the big things to get done. Each, if not a hero in their own right, at least a helper doing the right thing to make sure what needed covered, was covered.

As a final note; there are many who look at the images of the burning towers and wisely say, "never forget," in reference to what our enemies have done to us. To me the most important thing is to remember who we are as a people.

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