Posted by: alliehope | September 12, 2009

Remembering 9/11: A Reflection

I woke up this morning thinking two things: It’s Friday (TGIF) and it’s 9/11. The second thought took over way too quickly, and I found myself reeling back to exactly where I was on that momentous day 8 years ago. I was in college, just coming back from breakfast. I can remember passing by the main administration building and overhearing two staffers talking, saying that apparently a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers in NYC.

I thought, No way. Tell me that’s an accident, or a joke. So I ran like a bat out of [the other place] to my dorm room, only to discover that the school’s internet was on the fritz because of people hearing the news and wanting to find out what was going on. Not wanting to wake my roomies, I went to the student activities building and to the commuter lounge, where CNN was on, with live coverage. I was watching it when the second plane hit the second tower. I was one of the ones who screamed. I remember hearing a collective “Oh, my God” come out of people’s mouths as we all witnessed the unthinkable, and our innocent worlds were shattered.

As the coverage continued, I remember crying, and holding people who were crying, and listening to one girl repeatedly saying “Oh my f*&#ing God” (at least until someone told her to “shut the *&#$ up”). The rest of the day turned into a blur, as classes were cancelled and I spent much of it working in the chaplain’s office, helping with the vigils that were being hastily planned. At the end of the day, as I carried the altar cross back to its home in the chapel from where it had been set up in one of the campus’s large meeting rooms, I remember thinking, Nothing will ever be the same.

Eight years later, nothing is the same. In some ways, we as a country have become better. But in a lot of ways, we have become worse. We have become coarser, more crassly narcissistic than we were. We’ve seen the disastrous results of greed in the subprime housing crisis, the immense suffering caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, corporate fallouts, political scandals, the White Sox winning the Series (had to get that in), and the historic election of Barack Obama.

In this mixed bag of where we’ve been, I look forward, and ask the question, Where will we be next year? Will we be worse, or will we as a society be even a little better than we are now? Will we be kinder, or more self-centered? I can only hope that we will choose the way of love and enlightenment, the way of allowing our collective suffering as a nation and our individual sufferings to soften us, to make us more compassionate to those who carry burdens of pain greater than what we can sometimes imagine. I pray that as we mourn, as we remember, that we can look forward to the day when we can realize that our collective sufferings have brought out the best, not the worst, in us.

May God bless America.


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