I woke up this morning thinking about the horrible events of 9-11-01 and all the people who left this world on that day. I think about the heroes, the police and firefighters, the ordinary people who opened up their hearts and assisted in the aftermath. I think about the mental baggage they must still carry from the things they saw.
I still remember the feeling I had when I saw the first images of the plane crashing into the first tower, and then images of people jumping, the towers collapsing, dust covered "ghosts" wandering the streets. I remember watching when the towers collapsed and thinking the sight of people fleeing with the giant cloud of dust and debris chasing them looked more like something from a big budget movie than real life.
I remember the eerie silence outside our home in Murfreesboro without the planes overhead and the feeling of utter helplessness in the midst of a crazy world. I remember people, not knowing what else to do, flocking to stores to buy USA shirts and flags and anything else they could find. It felt like this event might just bring our nation together. Instead, extreme views have left us more fractured than ever. The division, the hate, the mistrust, the profiling, and the fear that has swept our nation in the post-911 period is heartbreaking. It is almost like every little crack in our society has gotten so much larger and so much worse. The war, the Tea Party, the religious right, the white supremacists, the racial profiling and violence have made the divide between left and right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican seem insurmountable.
So today I light a candle, as I have done each of these 14 years. But this time I do so not just for those lost, not just for the family and friends of those lost, but I am also thinking of everything our nation has lost as a result of those attacks. We've lost privacy, liberties, and safety but more than that we have lost our respect for one another with all the arguing and infighting. When civil discourse and thoughtful debate in our country is replaced with spewing hate and bigotry, it doesn't honor these victims. It means we have let the terrorists win.
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