Today Charlie and I met up with some other moms and kids in our ward at a nearby park where a local bank had set up a few hundred American flags to commemorate the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
I don't know why I always get into a funk on September 11. I'm a little touchy about the way the day is remembered, especially since moving away from the greater New York City area. I certainly don't have a monopoly on bad memories of that day. I didn't experience the loss that some of my friends did. But I don't always understand the grief people outwardly demonstrate for September 11. It bothers me when people cry and carry on about a tragedy that happened thousands of miles away from their homes.
They don't really know, you know?
Most of my fears on September 11 were for my father, who was trapped in midtown Manhattan that day. I was with him on the phone for a few seconds before the line cut out. I wondered if I would be the last person in my family to speak to my dad.
I admit, I didn't think much about the first responders that day, but I do now. Giving one's life to save another's is the ultimate test of an emergency worker's commitment to his calling, I think. I also think of the cab and limo drivers who ferried people out of the city sprawl through the night. I'm grateful to them for getting my dad home to us eventually. The city was drawn together in an incredible way in the wake of the attack. And that's something worth remembering, too.
It was a little shocking to hear these educated, middle class women engage in this sort of talk. Sometimes I wonder how far we've really come in the last hundred or two hundred years.
I thought about the state of our nation. There are countless things I love about the United States, and a number of things about my country--and its people--that I find embarrassing at best, deplorable at worst.
But I'm grateful that I enjoy such a huge measure of freedom. The general absence of fear in my life is a tremendous blessing. I'm grateful to know that I can drive in my car whenever I want. That I can take my baby to a park and socialize with whomever I choose. That I can vote, that I can speak my mind in public forums, that I can blog about whatever I darn well please. For that, I say God bless America, for better or for worse.