Here’s my note: I’m tired, I should be getting ready for bed, and as of this moment I have no idea what is going to be written below.
Every year I struggle with this day of remembrance.
Every year I think about standing, waiting for the bus, not really knowing what happened and really not understanding what it meant. Every year I think about sitting in line at the gas station, filling our tanks with elevated priced gasoline because someone will always make a buck on a tragedy. Every year I remember visiting ground zero the week we declared war on Iraq — we listened to the announcement on the charter bus to New York — and just being struck by how it looked like an unremarkable pile of rubble.
Every year I remember, everything year I search for the words I can put into the universe to maybe add to the healing, but I always struggle to know what to say.
I have seen a post this year about “I missed 9/12” and how we all came together, and truly we did. Blood banks had an excess of blood, people prayed and gathered like they never had before, and we saw some of the best in each other.
But this year I have a reflection of my own: that day, and our collective response to that day, amplified my racism and made me so much more hateful than I had been before. It took well over a decade for my level of hatred of the other to return to its pre-9/11 level.
I remember learning all the lies about Muslim people and committing them to my heart and soul as moral truth. I remember celebrating war and death. I remember jokes about GI’s not having beautiful women to sleep with in this war like they did in other wars — and legal brothels offering to make up for it. I remember celebrating war, defending violence, and have no sympathy of the innocents who died in the ensuing conflicts.
I remember being given a pork sandwich to celebrate Osama bin Laden’s death and eating it because I didn’t have the strength to say, “No, I am not celebrating death, even the death of an enemy.”
I remember all of it, and I mourn. I mourn for our nation, believing we have done more damage to ourselves and torn ourselves apart more than any terrorist attack ever could. I mourn for the person I was, so shamed of the hatred I spewed and deaths I celebrated. I mourn for the people I ostracized and judged — the relationships I never built — because I believed in my righteous hatred of another. I mourn for all who suffering violence born out of hatred and bigotry in this country.
That day we saw bravery we will hopefully never have the opportunity to see again.
Shortly after, more innocent people died in our attempt to gain justice and rout terrorism — and the results of our troop withdraw from Afghanistan has shown the futileness of most of the actions.
When I reflect on this day, I long for a world that heals its wounds, not causes more wounds. I long for a world that chooses love over hatred. I long for a world that values life and doesn’t dismiss the deaths of those out of sight and out of mind.
I long for a better world.
I will remember this day by praying for peace for all. I will remember this day by praying for the fulfillment of Isaiah 2:4
4 God will judge between the nations,
and settle disputes of mighty nations.
Then they will beat their swords into iron plows
and their spears into pruning tools.
Nation will not take up sword against nation;
they will no longer learn how to make war. (Isaiah 2:4 CEB)