I had just finished changing four month old Chichi’s diaper and was nuzzling her and enjoying her giggles and chubby legs kicking at my face, when I heard the CNN commentator announcing that a plane had just flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Cyril had turned on the television to listen to the headlines before taking off to the hospital. It was a beautiful September morning with clear blue skies. I picked up Chichi off the floor and sat on the couch next to Cyril and began nursing her, eyes glued to the screen. Then I watched, totally numb and devoid of feeling as another plane flew straight towards the second tower, next to the already smoldering one. I heard the commentator, like a soccer commentator excitedly announcing that a player was about to score a goal, yelling that a second plane was headed to the world trade center. It struck. Chichi tugged at my breast, agitating for the attention she was so accustomed to getting during her feeds. Her first teeth were out and she nipped at me a technique she knew was sure to elicit a yelp. I sat there staring at the TV screen. Mute. In the background of my numb mind, I could hear the commentator saying something about it not being an accident but a terrorist attack. I continued watching as fragments of humanity hurled themselves out of windows and went flying through the sky, gravity drawing them rapidly towards the earth. It was like watching a horror movie, only with the knowledge that none of what was unfolding on the screen was make- believe.
Today marks the day of that ugly event, an even that was condemned the whole world over. An event which changed America and Americans in a way they could never have imagined. As I reflect on the events of that day, I am listening to the role call of all those who perished on that day. There are many. I can hear tearful commemorations from family members of those who were on the planes, the fire fighters and the paramedics, the pedestrians going about their daily business. I hear the loss in their voices still fresh as though this event occurred yesterday. It occurs to me as I sit here, that while America remembers its collective losses as a result of that event, there are those who remember personal losses and harbor private grief. While collectively America remembers the sacrifices that have since been made in order to secure the homeland, there are those who reflect on the loss of sons and daughters of mothers and fathers of brothers and sisters in wars fought on foreign soil. While there are those, who on this day are criticizing American foreign policy and are talking about “how the chickens came home to roost” there are those who are puzzled by the fact that there are people so hateful that they would destroy innocent lives in order to make a point, which to many is still very unclear. It occurs to me too, that while this attack was on America, it took with it people from all over the world and today a family is without a member, somewhere in the world, thanks to that attack on 9/11. Whether it be loss of life due to the subsequent wars that have been and are being waged, or due to the first terrorist attack, human life continues to be wasted. In Afghanistan and Iraq, innocent civilians are casualties of air strikes and suicide bombings. It makes me think about the fact that grief knows no geographical boundaries. Grief has no color. Loss knows no religious affiliation or ideology. Grief comes to all humans and today I remember with all those who grieve their loss, in America and abroad. I remember too all those who continue to suffer under tyranny and reflect on the waste of human life the whole world over, due to unnecessary, man made wars, famine, environmental degradation and political instability and the lunacy of fanaticism.
I remember too, that no one is invulnerable to death and to the vagaries of living on this planet, and hope that with remembering comes some action, to stop the killing, the bombings and carnage that has made a graveyard out of this earth. I hope that 9/11 will not be just another day to indulge in melancholy and sadness, but a day on which individually we purpose to do whatever we can to secure a better world for those coming long after we are gone. Whether our purpose is translated into action is a topic for another blog, but for today, let us all reflect with purpose as we remember all those who fell on 9/11 and those who have fallen since.