9/11: REMEMBERING THE “GOOD GUYS”

It’s a few days past September 11, but I would like to post this as a remembrance for those who were killed nine years ago.  We are so fortunate to live in a country where we have the freedoms that we have, and this is just my way of remembering all the “good guys.”

 It’s been nine years now.  Everyone understands exactly what I’m referring to—the day “911” took on a whole new meaning other than the number we dial in America for emergency services.  A day none of us around the world will ever forget.  “A day that will live in infamy”—as FDR said of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

This attack, sixty years later, is as stunning, as provocative—and as heartbreaking—as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in many ways.  Although they both happened on American soil, these events affected us and our allies alike:  they made us fighting mad at the senseless injustice that was done; lives of so many snuffed out in an instant.  Although the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 was a tragedy with smaller loss of life than the others, it, too, gained world-wide attention.

 A little over a year ago, one of the masterminds of the Lockerbie hijacking and bombing was released and allowed to go home, to die of his terminal illness.  He was met with a hero’s welcome, confetti, cameras and all. The last I heard, he was still alive and well, surrounded by his family and friends in his own country.  I didn’t know anyone who perished in the Lockerbie crash, but I can tell you, watching the circus of that terrorist’s return home, (safely on a plane, I might add), made my blood boil—even after all these years.

 What emotions come to us, as humans of reasonable conscience, when a tragedy, such as any of these, occurs?  Anger, sadness, loss, and the question, “why?”  I don’t pretend to understand the politics and cultural philosophies of some of the countries involved in perpetrating these crimes.  They certainly don’t seem to grasp the full extent of their actions.  If they did, they’d realize that events such as these only bring the good out in those of us left behind; a banding together, and a determination to survive, in spite of whatever evil they might try to inflict.

Is there anyone who can understand the supposed justification for the motivations that ended in the deaths of nearly three thousand people in those twin towers nine years ago?  For those of us who watched in horror and helplessness, the aftermath of these tragedies has ironically brought something decent and good that the terrorists could never have calculated.  The willingness to help others, to lend a hand to those in need, to share whatever commodity we possess—whether it be physical, material or emotional—has been magnified one-hundredfold.  We have not looked at these events and become mired in the despair that evil has triumphed; we have collectively risen above the action that another human was responsible for—bringing anger, grief and shame in its wake—to the healing of recovery, and becoming collectively better than we were before.

 Patriotism runs high after tragedies such as these, being proud of our countries; but it’s a pride that we and others like us have not stooped, and never will, to such acts; nor will we allow those acts to defeat us, and drag us under.   After 9/11, we flew flags, proud to be survivors—yet, it was more than being an American; it was…being human.  We had been tested and come through the ‘ordeal by fire’ stronger than before.  Our kinship stretched globally with others who shared our disbelief, our horror at what we watched again and again on the news:  The planes going into the towers; the plane crashing into the Pentagon, and the plane that a band of heroic passengers kept from completing its intended destructive mission, giving their own lives to defeat that purpose.

 Nine years later, most people can tell you where they were and what they were doing when they heard what had taken place in New York City—no matter where they were living in our world.

 Our globe has shrunk in these times. Travel and communications have changed, certainly.  But our understanding of what it takes to be an ‘everyday hero,’ even as a person who is ‘only’ an observer of these events, has become stronger and more interconnected along with the ‘shrinking globe.’  Our hatred of injustice has become more universal with the media and communications advancements that bring global events into our living rooms via television or computer—alongside our empathy and love for our fellow man.  Events such as these make every person that might endure such tragedy, no matter where they may physically live, a brother. A sister.  A hero.  One of us—the good guys. 

 So take a moment today, if you will, to remember not only what happened on September 11, 2001, but all of these tragedies:  the victims, the survivors, the heroes, the rest of the world who watched and mourned and got angry…and healed stronger than before, better for it all, in spite of what a group of terrorists tried to do to us.

 Fly your country’s flag.  Thank a policeman or firefighter for their service.  Volunteer your time at something.  Help someone, somehow.  Remember, no matter how small or insignificant you might think your contribution is, you don’t know what it means to someone else. Be one of the good guys, and know you aren’t alone.

 And never, ever forget.

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
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19 thoughts on “9/11: REMEMBERING THE “GOOD GUYS””

  1. It makes me sad these days to see how far we have strayed from that national community we had right after 9/11.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    Peace, Julie

  2. We happened to be in Canada on 9/11. and got a slightly different view of things. We were driving around Prince Edward Island and didn’t find out about it until we overheard someone in a cafe talking about a big bomb in NYC. It was 2 in the afternoon before we got back to our room and saw what happened. The radio reports didn’t come close to the visual impact of the TV footage.
    The outpouring of concern and compassion were touching. Yes, we should not forget the bravery of the first responders who charged in to do what they could, many losing their lives.

    While the outpouring of support, concern, and pride in the heroic actions of these people should not be forgotten, the flip side of this should also not be forgotten. We came together as a country to support one another and be a united country. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to that. The acts of retaliation against people totally innocent of these acts of terrorism happened around the country and unfortunately are still happening today. Not only Americans were killed. People of many nationalities and religions, including moslems, also died in the Twin Towers. The comparison with Pearl Harbor is very accurate. The national pride and call to action was the good side. The actions against japanese-americans was the dark side. Loyal americans were rounded up, treated as criminals and lost everything. We should know better than to lump all moslems together. Moslems around the world have suffered terribly from the acts of these same terrorist groups. They do not represent the moslem people any more than Timothy McVeigh and his associates represented the american people.
    Our country has long represented freedom, compassion, tolerance, and understanding. The nastiness that is currently manifesting itself around this country is sad. It goes against everything America stands for and plays right into the hands of extremists. We are better than that. These heros died representing the best of what we can be. Let us not dishonor their memory by accepting the worst of what we can be. Our country became strong because of its acceptance of all people and what they had to offer. Unfortunately we seem to persecute the newest arrivals.
    The short sighted ignorance of people like the minister in Florida who wanted to burn books he knew nothing about will only cause more problems. Had he read it, he would realize it has much that is also found in the Bible. We are not that different. The core beliefs of most major religions are not that different. We may worship differently, but we want the same thing. We are heading in the same direction, we are just taking a different path. Your path is right for you, their path for them. We will all be together at the end.

  3. HI Julie,

    I feel the same way. It seems that 9 years later we are ALMOST back to the way we were before it happened. Although, I will say, that living in Oklahoma City when the Murrah Building was bombed, we saw how the country came together over that firsthand, but by 9/11, that too had faded to the background. I think a lot of it is our lifestyle is so rushed in this day and age that it affects everything we do–even our ability to take time to reflect and remember and do the little things to “make the difference” in our daily lives. Thank you so much for commenting!

    Cheryl

  4. Patricia,
    Thank you so much for your very thoughtful and insightful post. You are so right about the anger and the ignorance that can spell disaster among the general population. It is only human reaction, I suppose–I was angry too. But your points about not treating all members of a race or a religion the same because of what a few have done is very, very valid and something we should never forget. There are a lot of good people in this old world, there with a hand stretched out to help in times of disaster as I mentioned. Then there are people like the preacher you talked about…sigh. Incidents like that can only incite and inflame people here and abroad, and cause our service people overseas who are already in harm’s way to be in even more danger as well. Thank you again so much for your comments!
    Cheryl

  5. Cheryl, thank you for stepping out and doing a fantastic post. We all need to take a step backwards and think about now only where we’ve come from but where we’re headed. We (Jodi, Linda and I) were at the National Cowboy Synposium on 9/11 and all around the campus of Texas Tech University the streets were lined with U.S. flags. We saw several hundred flags waving in one cotton field between Lubbock and Amarillo. Memorible sight for sure. Thanks for giving us pause for thought.

  6. Hi Lyn,
    You are so right. For anyone who doesn’t believe that evil walks the earth, all they have to do is watch the evening news. And when something like any of these tragedies happen, it’s demonstrated in all its power.
    Cheryl

  7. Phyliss,

    I appreciate the kind words! I wasn’t sure if this was something I should talk about here on P&P, but it seemed like this year, people were not remembering 9/11 much–or as much as in years past. I got chills reading your comment–picturing that field with all the flags in it. What a picture that makes in my mind!

    Cheryl

  8. Wonderful blog, Cheryl. I, for one, will never forget that day no matter if I live to be a hundred. I was watching TV that morning and saw the first plane hit. After that I was glued to the set the rest of the day to try to make sense of what happened. It was so scary even though I was far removed from the events. We had no idea what was going to take place next. I’d love to see Congress make 9/11 a national holiday. It needs to be commemorated somehow. It needs to be set aside and remembered and taught in school so that future generations will know what happened.

    Yes, it did bring everyone together, at least for a while. But now that memories have started to fade a little people have gone back to bickering.

    Thank you for tackling such a heartbreaking event.

  9. Linda,

    THANK YOU. I appreciate your comments so much. I will never forget that day, either–I heard about it on the way home from dropping my son off at school. Turned on the tv when I got home and called my husband at work–at that time, he worked here in OK City at the Fed. Aviation Admin.’s teaching academy. When I called him, none of the guys in the office there had heard–they had no tv, of course, and so he was relaying what I was telling him. They were asking questions, and I could only describe what I was watching on tv and what the announcer was saying. The 2nd tower had not been hit at the time, so they were saying they still weren’t sure about it being intentional. Well, the 2nd tower was hit while I was on the phone with Gary, and when I told him that, he told his co-workers, and it got deathly quiet, then I heard someone in the background say, “My God…we’re under attack.” I stayed on the phone with Gary until someone went and found a television and brought it in to their office where they could see it for themselves.

    I would love to see Congress make 9/11 an official national day of remembrance in whatever capacity they could–I don’t know why they haven’t done it yet. As for our future generations, my daughter is amazed that some of the kids she works with in her job don’t know what 9/11 is. My daughter was 15 when it happened, so it made a huge impression on her, especially since we’d already gone through the Murrah Building Bombing in an up-close-and-personal kind of way when she was just 8. She works in an actors’ casting studio here in Okla. City, and many of the kids that are in their acting classes are in grade school or middle school, and don’t know much if anything about 9/11. Sadly, they don’t go into a lot of history in school anymore.

    Cheryl

  10. What a terrific tribute, Cheryl. We visited Ground Zero in NYC not long ago and I bawled my eyes out. One of the children who died when the Boston plane hit the towers has the same exact name as our daughter.

    My hubby, a fireman, and I both treasure those 354 firefighters who marched upward into hell knowing they would never come down. What courage. What saints. What national treasures. oxoxox

  11. Tanya,
    Thanks so much for the kind words. I don’t know if I could visit Ground Zero. After all these years of living right here in Oklahoma City, I have never been able to bring myself to go to the bombing memorial for the Murrah Building Bombing.

    Oh, Tanya, please tell your husband thank you for the job he does. I truly treasure all of our first responders, but the firemen that day of 9/11 just hold such a special place in my heart. I saw one of them interviewed who was going into the first tower before it collapsed and he was so anxious to get away from the newsperson and get in there to help, and then, of course just minutes later it collapsed. Did you ever see the story about that woman that was trapped in there, and the firefighters had gone to try to rescue her and they were on like the 7th floor or something. It was a little pocket that wasn’t crushed, and they all said it was because she was an angel. She had kept telling them they were all going to make it and they did. I saw her and them reunited on the Today Show or one of those morning shows about a year after 9/11. What a story that was!

    As for the flags at Pepperdine–I am getting chills reading about that. I would love to have seen that! Thanks so much for commenting!

    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  12. Cheryl,

    Thank you for such a great post. Here in AZ where I live there was this 7 year old boy that past away from cancer. He was a member of the fire dept because he loved it so much. He had been fghting it since he was two anyway I work for a newspaper and so we put an ad in there for him because he was a little hero too.

    This really touched his mother He was like a firefighter and the local firefighers seen to it that he was a member

    To all the heros he died on 9/11 you will never be forgotton.
    Thank you again

    Walk in harmony
    Melinda

  13. Hi Melinda,

    That is just so thoughtful of you and your paper to put an ad in for that little boy. How sad for the parents–I’m sure your thoughtfulness meant the world to them in remembering their son.

    Thanks so much for commenting!

    Cheryl

  14. Tanya, I got such a chill when I read what you wrote…bear with me….

    I was in my living room in Calgary, Alberta when I heard the news, and I immediately called my husband, who works in aviation and was at the airport hangar. They’d heard, but throughout the day it got clearer as all flights were grounded and operations halted – and how many other flights were diverted to Canadian airports.

    As I watched television that day, I remember the ticker bar on the bottom of the screen scrolling through the passenger manifests of the planes that had hit the towers. Three names stood out for me – the Hanson family. Father, Mother, Daughter.

    My lip is still wobbling as I type this. I won’t ever forget it, wondering about what that family must have been thinking – and feeling – as the events of that morning unfolded for them.

    Cheryl – the FDR quote also reminded me of watching Pearl Harbor and the line by the Japanese admiral. I don’t know if this was actually ever said, but I’ve always remembered it – “I fear all we’ve done is awaken a sleeping giant.” Amidst all the tragedy, there was a lot of grace. Thanks for the post. In the words of Dick Winters: Remember those lessons. They were hard lessons to learn.

  15. Hi Donna,

    My husband works in aviation, too. When the Murrah Building Bombing happened, he was working for the Fed. Aviation Admin. as team leader/coordinator for one of the sections there that did training for electronics technicians that work on the ground equipment (ILS and other NavAids among other things). Anyhow, since the Murrah bombing had just happened and we didnt’ know who did it or if it was just the “beginning” of some kind of attack, they locked down the FAA Academy and sent everyone home, but they asked for guys who had military experience to stay and do a sweep of the buildings for bombs, etc. My husband was a Navy SEAL, so he stayed. Meanwhile, our son was in the daycare there and I couldn’t get on base to get him, and Gary couldn’t leave to pick him up. Also, I couldn’t reach Gary to find out what was going on.

    When 9/11 happened, for us here in Oklahoma it was like “deja vu” on a huge, grander scale. Many of our rescue workers immediately headed up to NYC, and our city leaders were asked to come and lend a hand because they “had experience in that area.” That’s what I think was a terribly sad statement.

    You do have to wonder what was going through that family’s mind during that time. And when I think of the people on that plane that actually rushed the hijackers and forced it down in a field–wow I get chills thinking of the drama that must have been playing out there. The courage it took to do what they did was phenomenal. I so agree with you about there being grace amidst the tragedy. And so many miracles, too, in the face of the death and destruction.

    Thanks so much for your comment!
    Cheryl

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