Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembrance and Reflection

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. 


  1. Naw - that scab still gets dinged occasionally - but overall we're still managin' to heal.

    BTW - In case no one has told you recently, I really get the sense that Moogie P is a class act. I'm just sayin'.

  2. Awww -- thanks, Scott! We do try to project the Southern Lady. And that dinged scab keeps fighting to heal.

  3. Good piece, Moogie. I'm late to the prom, but glad I finally showed up. Yes, we do indeed all remember every moment of that day.

    I won't bore you with my story, but it is similar with my older children in college, etc. The younger boys were here. I had just dropped #4 son off at preschool. When I went back to collect him a few hours later the ladies were sitting on a couch watching TV, crying. The owner of the school came to me asking for a hug. Pam was at home reading the Bible, and crying. I was trying to keep a stiff upper lip.

    #3 son was the one I worried most about. He is well on his path to being an officer in the Army one day...serving in The Reserves now (as you know). Things certainly have changed since then. I'm happy for you that you turned that tragedy in to something fulfilling.

    You're good folks. Thanks for your remembrances.

  4. Your #3 sounds like my cousin. We all share a common human reaction to that day. And today, we fly our flags and burn candles in the windows and go on.

    I always get so anxious in early September. I'm ready for football to "take me away, Calgon."

  5. Your Hogs are lookin' pretty sporty. I can't wait for them to play a football team, though.

    Just sayin'...

    LSU's about in the same boat...shoulda' lost to NC, and caught a breather against Vandy. We'll see when the real games fire up, I guess.

  6. Yeah. I was a little underwhelmed by the Hogs' first half. Next up is Georgia -- and they're sure to have a little bit of a chip on their shoulders! LSU was a little flat, too.

    We shall see!

  7. An excellent piece, this. The first thing I thought of was the shopworn "lemons/lemonade" cliché and it DOES fit, sorta. Good On Ya for seeking out those volunteer opportunities, Moogie. The bonus of making friends is an added benefit.

    My most bizarre memory of that day? The Second Mrs. Pennington called me at work about three hours after the Towers fell to cry on my shoulder and ask what my plans were. You know a little bit of our story, so you can imagine my stupendous shock at that turn of events.

  8. Wow. Shock indeed. SN3 was pretty young then, huh?

  9. Yeah... he was four, and he was more than a little part of the conversation. As in "what kind of world is our son going to grow up in?" (Her rhetorical question, not mine.)