September 11th. 9/11. 9 - 1 - 1.
The repercussions from that day are many and diverse, aside from the obvious holes in the ground and in our hearts.
The wound -- the pandemic pain and suffering that we all shared with one another and the families of the fallen -- is still here even though it's scabbed over now. I suspect, however, that it wouldn't take much to knock the scab off and start the blood flowing all over again. I think the kerfuffles over Koran-burning and mosque-building the last couple of weeks are proof positive of that suspicion.
For the last 8 years, I've gotten pretty contemplative during the days leading up to this date, as have most Americans, I imagine.
My younger cousin posted on Facebook this morning that she had just dropped off her young children at school when the first plane hit. She firmly believes her oldest is now a Cadet at West Point as a direct consequence of that day's events.
Pepper was on one of the first civilian flights cleared to take off on September 14th. He was headed to a meeting originally scheduled to take place at the Pentagon, but re-located after al-Qaeda crashed a plane into it. There had been friends in the Pentagon that September morning. It was hard to watch him get on that plane.
We all recall where we were, what we were doing, how life changed after the towers fell. My own life changed dramatically but, oddly, for the better after that day.
Having moved down to New Orleans full-time only a couple of months beforehand, I knew but a few souls in the whole city and those few were still just passing acquaintances. My father was in Little Rock. All the kids were out of the house, married or in college towns in Arkansas and Louisiana. On the 11th, the girls badly wanted to ditch classes and run to mama's and daddy's arms for comfort as they did when they were little, but we encouraged them to stick it out where they were. That sounds like "tough love" but, truth be told, we were scared to put them on the highways, not knowing what was next and conjuring up Armageddon. It was a very, very lonely time.
The week following the attacks, I saw a newspaper article about a service designed to support local military families that had been affected. I called the telephone number in the article, and when the voice at the other end of the line asked how she could help me, I replied that I wasn't seeking help, I wanted to volunteer with the program. She handed the phone to a man who has since become a close friend, and that conversation led me to eventual membership in the Mayor's Military Advisory Committee, The Military Officers' Wives' Club, and ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve). September 11th molded my life in New Orleans and blessed me with new friends and volunteer opportunities.
I'm not sure why, but I never really appreciated that blessing until this year: out of disaster came a fresh start; out of reflection came recognition.
Would that it could be that way for the world.