There will be much written today about the events of 9/11 and much of it by folks who were far more directly impacted than I was. I did not lose any family or immediate friends, but I still feel a sense of loss, and like most of us, a sense that things changed on that day, deeply, dramatically and permanently, even if at times it is hard to verbalize just what those changes are.
Stars And Stripes Forever?
In the days following September 11th 2001, in addition to the feelings of sadness, frustration and anger, I was overwhelmed by a sense of community and nationalism. Through the horror of the act of terrorism in my homeland there emerged a powerful sense of belonging, of being part of a common cause, of being an American. After so many years of neglect, I once again recited The Pledge Of Allegiance with meaning and purpose, as a true pledge and with pride and emotion behind the rote words. One of my sons and I planted a flagpole in our front yard and the raising and lowering of the American flag became a cherished daily routine. As I drove to and from work I was invigorated by the many cars, like my own, proudly waving the Stars and Stripes from windows and antennas. We were all in this together, and that sense of belonging seemed to be perhaps the one silver lining in a very dark and stormy cloud.
Where Did It All Go?
In 2005 Hurricane Wilma ripped the flagpole from my yard. Weeks earlier a gash had already been ripped in my American pride by the blatantly failed response to Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of Wilma, faced with my own challenges to repair and rebuild, I had no desire to restore my fallen flagpole. I had lost more than a boat and trees and part of my roof. I had lost the sense of American pride and purpose that I had regained back on 9/11. Today, as I think about all that was lost nine years ago, I am also sorry for what has been lost since. In 2010 we are faced with so much uncertainty that I feel there is hardly a trace of the caring and patriotism that the awful attacks inspired. The "war on terror" continues. The faith in our economy continues to decline. When I look upon my neighbors and fellow Americans I see much more worry than waving of flags.
So Many To Thank
My heart goes out to those who were lost on this day nine years ago, and to the families who have suffered since, and to the brave and dedicated men and women who have put, and are putting, their country first through their service in the military and other public branches. Your sacrifices and commitment do make me proud to be an American, and I hope that one day soon, for reasons that are only positive, I will once again be inspired to plant a flagpole in my yard.