Just my luck.
I was born on 9/11.
Of course that was 9-11-59, but it was 9-11 regardless.
9-11 used to not mean anything – nothing special to me or anybody else. It was simply another day – one I used to have my birthday on . . .
Now it means so much more.
Now – for the nation and the world – it means a day of terror, horrible things – death, burning destruction, bodies falling – horrible, horrible things . . . so terrible . . .
And it also means a nation coming together in hope and joy (and horror as well) – to rebuild, restore, and justify . . .
It used to just mean a birthday cake to me.
Now it means the moment when the United States of America began to exert her power.
It means the day the world came to an end
and another world began . . .
Just like always when these sorts of things happen . . .
We wish we were there when those towers fell (and yet feeling in that wish tremendous dread). We would have rushed in – rescuing somebody – rescuing anybody we could get our hands on. That’s part of what we are and being a Marine; it is what we were ‘conditioned’ and trained for . . .
We almost certainly would have died trying to pull someone to safety. When it comes to those moments it’s never about ‘us’ – it’s about someone else – though we are ‘smart’ enough to recognize that the rescuers must first and foremost rescue themselves so that rescues can go on . . . saving lives is what it’s all about . . . that, and comforting someone ….
But . . .
To this day I cannot watch ANYTHING regarding that day. I can sit through news reports and such – but to watch the actual footage, hear the screams – to SEE those movies and re-creations . . . Well, I just can’t watch them. I – WE – get too ANGRY. Madder than hell and then mad all over again. Disgust with those terrorists (and those who sponsor them) – madness and anger towards those (expletive deleted) – and grief for all those lives senselessly lost (but not wasted) …. grief for their families and the survivors ….
It just makes me mad. Even to this day. Ever since the event has happened I’ve never again sat down and watched the whole thing (I was at work that day and we watched it – off and on – throughout the day.) And I never want to see it again . . .
Of all my memories of that period, the one that stands out the most (aside from the TV footage of the towers falling) – is how quiet the skies were in the three days after . . . not a contrail, not a plane . . . nothing. I’d never heard the skies so quiet – never in my life. It was awesome, it was wonderful, it was beautiful – and yet: it was an awful thing.
Life goes on, and so do we. Rebuilding – yet remembering. And my life was changed …
My birthday. I try to remind myself it has not been ruined – but every time I have to whip out my ID for something – every time I am ‘carded’ – I’m reminded of something . . .
I was born on ‘that day’ (as cashiers and clerks and security guards so often remind me).
It never used to mean anything ‘to me’ (meaning most of my bone wearied parts), though little Mikie would get excited (and Matt all cynical besides). Another party to go to; maybe some family and friends . . .
I never expected the whole world to join in.
I sometimes tell people:
“The terrorists threw me a party – they lit two candles – and I was never invited.”
Had I been, I would have done something. Anything I could . . .
Flight 93. I would have been one of those passengers fighting to take down the terrorists – because that’s what I’ve been ‘trained’ to do – saving others . . . even if it cost myself and others their own lives . . .
because it’s all about numbers when it comes down to survivors – numbers, one and all. Sacrifice one to save four; four to save eight – ten to save a hundred, a hundred to save a thousand. It’s something that I can do – but GOD!, how my heart hates that cold calculation and reasoning . . . especially when one of those lives is mine, or worse: someone that I love. (which nowadays means anyone – and everyone. Yes, I would save you – or try. To a point.)
Its a hard thing to know you would kill someone you love to save strangers . . .
but that sometimes it must be done…
hardly human, isn’t it?
But that’s the way we are.
Lets not think about that. Lets think instead of the cool brisk mountains with their turning leaves of gold, red, and yellow. (I can’t see the orange real well.) Lets think of mountain streams and winding roads . . . brisk air . . . friendly faces . . . and no threat at all … walking with the wife hand in hand, smiling at children’s faces . . .
For that’s where we are going this weekend. I’ve decided to ‘get away’ – having neither family nor friends over for my birthday (it’s on 9-11, like I told ya) – no ‘funny faces’ or me having to be in a good mood . . .
no strange ‘looks’ when I say something related to my Puerto Rican adventure . . . no sidelong whispers and unsaid suspicions about ‘what I went through’ or the fact that I was put in a ‘museum’ – meaning an asylum – afterwards for being abused and telling my own story . . .
So it’s off to the mountains – the Great Smokey Mountains (something apt in that for this day, 9-11) – to a little tourist town where the wife has put in a reservation at a nice hotel with an indoor pool (at Gatlinburg, no less) – waterfall inside . . .
and we hope to get our minds off our troubled hearts (for there are troubles there – we are human, too, are we not? and with lessons to learn) . . . and focus on the OUTSIDE (which is something us survivors must learn to do – one and ALL) – while loving ourselves on the INSIDE . . . perhaps letting little Mikie play there (at the Wonderworks Science Museum, of course! – we are Scientists all) – and heal our souls some bit . . . perhaps … perhaps help the wife to understand …
Live. Life. Love.
And peace to all you survivors . . . if you cannot feel it – then reach deep down into yourself and know:
You are not alone – not anymore.
The pain you feel is real.
But you can feel free to share . . .
and move on . . .
and live life in love . . .
(*meaning “the all of us”, thank you and by the way >winking< right here! – yer old friend ‘Elvis’)(PS: If you are interested . . . the book we wrote, “The Boy“. Reckon we oughta ‘market’ it . . . get some money for them kids . . .)