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Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-11 (Sept. 11, 2011)

Today I woke up and in some ways it was like any other day in Southern California. The sun came out after a while. I took a morning walk, washed dishes, cleaned up many messes, made phone calls. Normal stuff.

In many ways, though, today can never be just another day. It’s 9-11, and that date always will mean something to us. I grappled with the idea of doing something in remembrance of this day. Did I need to do something public? I wasn’t sure. I don’t believe that you have to participate in a public remembrance in order to recognize the significance of this date. You can remember privately, if that’s how you work.

On tv there was footage of people at the brand-new fountains at Ground Zero in Manhattan, where the names of those who died are etched into stone. The fountains pour into the ground, the void, as they call it because of the void left by their deaths. It was very moving. There was footage of people reading their family members’ names: moms, brothers, uncles. An almost ten-year-old boy read his father’s name. He never got to meet his dad, but he thanked him for the gift of life.

I put our big flag up outside, and then put up ten more: six medium ones and four tiny ones I’d made before July 4th. I wore a red t-shirt and put little two flags on the stroller before I set out for a walk. The footage from Manhattan and Washington, DC had impacted me. With my flags and clothing I was participating in a public way, and I felt good about the outward expression of what I was on my mind today. I decided to go to one of the local commemorations.

I went to the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. I wasn’t sure what the event would involve but I wanted to show my respect. Nearly 3,000 people participated, which is a good-sized crowd in my book. I like the symbolism of this number’s nearly matching the number of people who died on Sept. 11, 2001. Names of those who died were read, followed by a bell’s toll. It was sobering to hear the names. The statistics are one thing. But it becomes so much more real when you hear victims’ names.

Various people spoke, including Mayor Jerry Sanders. Former military members gave brief speeches. Three planes flew overhead in a missing man formation. Some people were dressed in patriotic colors. There were girl- and boy-scout troops there, with their patch-covered vests. Many members of the military as well as police and fire fighters were there in dress uniform. A giant flag suspended from two fire engine’s aerial ladders moved in the breeze, the bright sun making its colors especially vibrant. Our flag is much more than a bunch of fabric. I know that, but I really felt it today.

I felt good about going today, making the time to show my appreciation for the freedoms we have here. The tone at the commemoration was that of respect and gratitude and I was glad to be there to express my appreciation for those who served us ten years ago, as well as today.

9-11. It’s a sad day and it always will be. But it was a day of pride and unity, too.

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