By Patricia Allwood Hindman
“Going gray” people will never forget the day…or the day after.
Although our memories may fail at times, we “going gray” people will never forget 9/11. We all can recount where we were. We can also agree that we will never forget the days after.
In my case I was teaching in a public school. The science teacher and I both had our planning period that morning. She had her TV on and called me over to see a rerun of the first plane hit one of the towers. We groaned over the “accident” until we saw, in live time, a second plane hit the second tower. It was then, watching from that TV screen, the world started to evolve in slow motion. Two accidents? No. People aboard those planes? Yes. Attack? Yes. Nuclear weapons? Who knew? More attacks? Yes, a hijacked plane was still in the air. Soon, very soon, an announcement came over the loud speaker. Prayer. Public school? Yes. Who cared. Plenty of people weren’t going home tonight to be with their loved ones. We didn’t know if we would. No one knew what would unfold.
It was a horrific day. Hardly a life, unless you lived off the grid in the hills, was not affected. But the second day. And the third. And the fourth. They were uncommon days. Our patriotism rose to fiery levels. We, the huddled masses, stood up. We united. We dare not say “democrat” or “republican.” We were the United States of America. We dare not criticize Hollywood for patriotic shows anymore than we would criticize churches of any denomination doing what they could do in this tragedy. We dare not say “black” or “white;” we were citizens. There were no “they” and “we.” We rose together in a unity that America had not seen since World War II.
9/11 was a terrible day. 9/12 and the days after, however showed how deeply we loved our country. It’s not that we had forgotten that fact; it’s simply that we had taken it for granted. No longer. At least for a time.
Sadly, today, we have to search hard for unity amid political and race and creed divisions. We would like to think that, beneath it all, we realize we are still the United States of America. But are we? Will we be again?
Those who are eternal optimists believe we can come together… someway, somehow. May no catastrophic event happen to prove us right. Right now, we are bickering. We are angry. We are divided. But underneath, we all desire for the United States of America to be connected, to mesh. Our desire, at least the vast majority of Americans, is to integrate, to connect.
We are not naive enough to believe this unity can happen overnight, as in 9/11. We pray we don’t have a cataclysmic event to do so. Perhaps, together, remembering 9/11, we can baby step our way back to 9/12.