Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Time to be Overcome 9.11.11


even now the world is bleedin' but feelin' just fine all numb
in our castle where we're always free to choose never free enough
to find i wish somethin' would break cuz we're runnin' out of time

and i am overcome i am overcome holy water in my lungs i am overcome

these women in the street pullin' out their hair my master's
in the yard givin' light to the unaware this plastic little place
is just a step amongst the stairs

and i am overcome i am overcome baby holy water in my lungs i am overcome

so drive me out out to that open field turn the ignition off
and spin around your help is here but i'm parked in this open space
blockin' the gates of love

i am overcome i am overcome holy water in my lungs i am overcome

beautiful drowning this beautiful drowning this holy water
this holy water is in my lungs

and i am overcome i am overcome i am overcome i am overcome


Ten years ago on this day I was running late for school, this was not unusual. Because I was running late I did not have time to turn on the TV to watch the news liked I liked to do in the morning. I drove like hell the 5 minutes to the high school and was taking off my cardigan as I ran in the back doors, hoping to slip by everyone unnoticed. The halls were quiet.

"Stephanie, they think a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center", somebody says...all I know is that the person was male.

My friend and I go into my room and turn on the TV, we watch the newscasters frantic to understand what is going on..."Are you sure it was a plane? How does an accident like this happen?," I ask having missed the inital report and not wanting to wait. "Maybe it was an explosion?"

And, as we're talking...those of us who didn't have a class had gathered in my room around the TV waiting for the newscasters to tell us more...I am reminded of The Challenger explosion and tell my colleagues as much, talking about what happened in school when that happened. I talk about how we were all afraid, but we didn't know where to channel that fear. I didn't know that then the newscasters were also at a loss for words and frantically searching for answers, I was only 10. At 25, looking at the television and talking with my friends, I could tell that all the reporters were just as lost as we were and were guessing just as we were and were watching The World Trade Center just as we were, trying to make heads or tails of the situation that they were presenting to us.

"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh," one of my friends said and we all turned to look at the news. And, as if in slow motion we watched as the second plane, by then we knew it couldn't be anything else, flew into the second tower.

We are breathless. We are crying and the school (I can only assume every classroom had the news on) was in panic. Many were worried that Whiteman Airforce Base was next as it had Stealth Bombers and Missouri also has a nuclear reactor. We have students who parents were in lockdown at Fort Leonard Wood and one teacher was frantically trying to get ahold of her husband, as she wasn't going to be allowed on post anytime soon. She thought for sure that we were at war.

The terroist attack on the World Trade Center is the second disaster I have seen live on the news and it is the second disaster that binds me with millions of other people in my nation as we collectively mourn the lives of those who we know are lost, as we mourn lost innocence. I can tell you were I was and what I was doing during both. Later my mom tells me this is how she feels about the assasination of JFK and MLK and I think Oh my gosh my mother has been around for so much and I think I'm not sure that I can do this another time. My heart is hurting.

During that year I will see several students graduate to fight in Operation: Iraqi Freedom, I will listen as we, as a nation, try to make sense of how these attacks (there were two more one on the Pentagon and one thwarted heading to the White House) happened in a nation with such a strong military force and government. As a nation we are shaken, I am shaken as I learn to differeniate between a nation and its criminals and as I learn to teach others to try to do the same. One teacher is reprimanded for playing the Dixie Chicks in her class, a school trip we were going to take to Boston in November is canceled and I revamp my War Fiction Unit to incorporate what is happening as we go to war in March of 2002 .

Later that year, when I think my heart is fine, my friend and I will take a recent graduate to New York City, we'll see Audra McDonald and Hugh Jackman at Carnegie. We'll also go visit the site of The World Trade Center still in devastation with sidewalks torn up and fences surrounding where the buildings use to be. It's eerily quiet and I can hear the other tourists around us sniffling and patting their eyes with tissues and the backs of their hands holding back tears. We're hugging strangers, as we look through the barracade at the humongous hole in the ground. It smells like wet cement and soil. We read signs and notes dedicated to those lost and to those fighting for the cause overseas.

We are overcome.

U2 will bring a crowd to tears when they dedicate "Walk On" to 9/11 during their Elevation Tour, they will do it again during the Superbowl when we are watching their 9/11 Tribute using "Where the Streets Have No Name".

They are so classy, spirtual and patriotic.

Two years ago my aunt, niece, sister and I go to New York, it's late at night when we walk to the construction site of the Memorial to be, my aunt is overcome by the site, as we walk around looking for it. I have to look up on my phone what it looks like now and tell them that we have passed it several times. We settle on a bench overlooking the water. I'm amazed at New York City's ability to heal. We are a nation that perseveres, we are a nation that stands strong.

Saddam Hussein is dead, Osama Bin Ladin is dead, Libya is all but crushed, our war on 'terror' is still raging on. I am sad thinking about the roles that my former students have played in this battle, I am sad for the former student that has been lost in this battle, I am sad for my friends who have fought and who have been changed because of our nations need to insure that the world is free of terror.

I think about the work that has been done, I think about the work still yet to do, I think about the lives that must be dedicated to make sure that freedom stands for everyone. I am divided about my role, I am divided about our agenda in this affair. I am also proud of my nation and I am proud to be an American.

I am overcome.

1 comment:

  1. I was very upset that night in New York that I didn't get to see it. Not knowing what I had seen that night and seeing it now in pictures, to what they have done is amazing...I will go see it again one day. I know I will cry as if it happened yesterday, as I did when I seen the memorial wall of Vietnam, but that is just who I am. I will be proud as I am everyday of the men women and children who died that day as well of the men and women whom have died for my freedom all my life and before. Civil War, World War I and II, Korean and Vietnam war, Desert Strom and Iraq. That my family fought in these wars as well as friends. I don't think we will overcome...maybe we do until such a day cause it brings it all back, the crying the fear the feelings all come back on a day such as this. Forget NEVER, carry on ABSOUTELY!



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