Sunday, September 11, 2011

Septembber 11 2001 and December 7 1945

Time is relative, or so Einstein said, but I can think of at least two, no make that 3, that are not.  7:48 AM Pacific Time December 7, 1941.  8:46 AM Eastern Standard Time September 11, 2001 and 3:46 AM Eastern Standard Time September 11, 2011.  Let me tell you why I think each one is so important.  Two were so important that the world was forever changed  by them.
On December 7th, 1941 at 7:48 am the Japanese launched their attack against the military installation at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  In Pearl Harbor on that Sunday morning 2,350 people lost their lives.  68 of those were civilians.  It was the day after my cousin Agnes’ 40th birthday.  It was the day after many other birthdays, marriages, anniversaries, reunions.  It was the day after another day of life.  Our world was suddenly at war.  Newsreels cranked out the news as fast as they could but despite the horrendous nature of this terrible attack it would never have the immediate visual input that the one destined to happen nearly exactly 60 years latter would.  The impact on the lives of average Americans was just as great.  The once mighty giant of American stood stunned and momentarily silent, grief stricken, panicked and numb.  Children were born who never knew their fathers and in some rare instances their mothers.  Parents lost their children.  Grandparents lost their grandchildren.  We, once again, as we had done during the Revolutionary War, became a nation of fearless, determined patriots.
On September 11 at 8:46am the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  At first many of us didn’t know what we were seeing.  For those, like myself, whose days start a little later we were drinking our morning coffee and staring at the television.  First we thought we’d left a movie channel on and then the stunning realization that it was not a movie hit is like a brick between our tear filled eyes.  We assumed we were watching a horrible accident unfold.  We were not.  The first news coverage came on at 8:48.  They began to talk about this accident unfolding at the World Trade Center.  On live television at 9:03 am Eastern Standard Time the South Tower of the World Center was struck by flight 175.  It happened right in front of our eyes.  All those people were instantly killed right in front of our eyes.  Our world was gone like dust after an western monsoon.  At 9:37AM Eastern Standard time Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.  I know a Chaplain who was there, who saw it and who has never been the same again.
At 9:59 on live television the South Tower of The World Trade Center collapses.  At 10:03 in the small Borough of Shanksville, in Somerset County Pennsylvania Flight 93 is driven into the ground of a field, The Bourough of  Shanksville is 29 miles from the Hospital next to Mine 13 where I was born and just 27.7 miles from the birthplace of my grandmother.  In this place 40 people gave their lives willingly to save an untold number who would have died had this plane reached her destination of Washington D.C.  At 10:28 am on live television the North Tower of the World Trade Center Collapses.  In total 2, 996 people loose their lives.  The majority of it is seen on television as it occurred. 
We were stunned, momentarily silent, shocked, grieved, ill, but ultimately, as has been the case so many times before, we did the most heroic, patriotic, compassionate things we could.  Some people dug with their bare hands trying to help.  Some simply took other stunned survivors by the hands and lead them from the destruction.  Hundreds and hundreds of emergency personnel came from all over the United States and unltimately the World to help in what we hoped might be a rescue mission but what turned out to be one rescue mission followed by an extended list  of recoveries.  Each one of those recovered was treated with dignity, honor and respect by those who recovered them.  People went for days without sleeping or eating to do this gruesome job.
Life as we knew it was over.  It became a catchphrase “Post 9/11.”  It became a hassle to trudge through the airports being searched.  It became an intolerant world on so many fronts.  Hate began this tragedy and in some instances hate has blossomed from it like a viperous cancer.  It is impossible on this tenth anniversary to say if we will ever recover from 9/11.  Maybe we will.  I would like to think that is possible.
The third time I mentioned as important 3:46 AM Eastern Standard time.  Well that is the time I woke up and felt compelled to write this.  To say to all the victims lost on December 7th, 1941, we will never forget you even though the years may fade the horror of the event, we will never forget you.  To say to all the victims of September 11, 2001, we will never forget you or how your passing right in front of our eyes forever changed our world.  We are honored to call you brother, sister, mother, father, daughter, son, grandmother, grandfather, partner, friend.  We will never allow your sacrifice to be in vain and we will find a way to heal this world, to find peace once again and we will do that in your names.  So that you who gave your lives on that clear September morning 10 years ago will have done so to heal a wound created by hate.

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