Saturday, September 14, 2013

Life During Wartime

Wednesday morning, we had a quick family meeting. Before my son and I rushed off to school and the day got away from us completely, I asked if we were going to fly our flag to commemorate September 11. My son wasn't sure he wanted to mark that sad day with any sort of celebration. My wife felt that we should fly both our flags: the stars and stripes and our rainbow peace flag. Before I got on my bike and rode to work, just like I did twelve years ago, I did something that I didn't do twelve years ago: I hung two flags, one on each side of our front porch.
Anger is a secondary emotion, it usually springs from some other strong feeling. Twelve years ago, I wasn't angry. I was sad. A great hole had been ripped in the world, and the losses of that day were unimaginable. It made me afraid. That's why it's called terrorism. My older brother and his family were scheduled to fly to Europe on that day a dozen years ago. I feared for their safety. One of my best friends in the world was working in downtown Manhattan. My non-specific knowledge of the geography of that island kept me frightened for a day before I got word that he and his family were safe. I thought about the Transamerica Pyramid across the bay in San Francisco. I was terrified of what might be in store for that tall building and any of the others across the United States when it seemed like the whole world was falling apart. That day, the terrorists won.
Twelve years later, my son is in high school, not in preschool. He has grown up in a world with all that fear and sadness. He's seen it turn into anger: the kind that makes you want to hit back. He has grown up in a world where that is what we've been doing: hitting back.
Wednesday my family decided not to hit back. We remembered.

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