Friday, September 11

An Explanation

Each year on this date, I use this space to take a moment and remember the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Last year, I even used this space to raise money for the Flight 93 Memorial Fund. I started thinking about what I should do this year way back in July. I thought about the fact that I get dozens of product review offers each week, which could probably easily be turned into giveaways or sponsors. I thought about adding a button to make donations directly. I thought about some of the people I've met who would surely be willing to help. I thought about a lot of things.

But I didn't do anything.

I wasn't sure why, but each time I would think about how to best use this space for 9/11, I became uneasy. I couldn't place my finger on it until two nights ago.

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When I think back to that awful day eight years ago, I mostly remember the emotions associated with what happened. There was fear and uncertainty, terror and concern. As the hours passed, those emotions gave way for sadness and anger, and then outrage and disgust. But as the days began to go by, something happened. There was no real explanation for it, but if you walked out the front door of your house and looked around, you probably felt it, too.

Pride.

I know that when I stood outside our front door and looked around at our neighbor's houses, everywhere I looked I saw American flags flying high. There was a sense that we were all in this crazy thing called life together, and that we needed to put aside differences and work along side one another to make a difference.

When there was a national moment of silence, I stood on our stoop lighting a candle, as did hundreds of our neighbors. Later that night, I looked on as a neighbor who was as radically far-right as they come (hint: he has a morning talk radio show) stood nodding in agreement with another neighbor who was as radically far-left as they come. They may not have agreed on many things, but they respected one another and were willing to hear different opinions. They found commonality and respect for one another in a time of national crisis.

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Remember in the months after 9/11 how the Dixie Chicks got into a LOT of trouble for saying that they were ashamed that George W Bush was from their home state of Texas? It seemed that many people felt that the Office of the President of the United States of America was a position that demanded respect. It didn't matter if you agreed with the man, you simply didn't disrespect him by shouting craziness in the middle of a concert.

Personally, I didn't really see the big deal. They were at a concert with thousands who were there to hear music. The fans weren't there to learn about government policy, become informed on a topic that would certainly effect them, or even in a situation where the line would have lasting impact on their opinion of the President. It was sort of like yelling it from a back porch, but with a little bit of an audience who may or may not even be paying attention. Freedom of speech, and all that.

Some felt the Dixie Chicks had toed a line, a line that shouldn't be crossed. It was a time to show the utmost of respect for all human beings because we had just been reminded just how fragile life can be.

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Fast forward to a few nights ago and President Obama's health care address. In a controlled situation, in a room where everyone who enters agrees to a certain decorum of behavior, at a time when it was one person's turn to explain his side of an issue, a Senator yelled out "You lie."

Maybe you don't see the correlation to the Dixie Chicks and the Bush incident, but I do. If the Dixie Chicks toed a line of being disrespectful towards the President, then the Senator stomped all over that line and then leaned back and spit on it. In some people's eyes, that stomping was OK. It was justifiable. It was something to cheer.

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What happened to us? When did we become a nation so terribly divided that we forgot to show basic respect to other human beings? It's not just that Presidential Address. Tonight at the Farmer's Market it was apparent that people have gotten ruder. More than one grown woman smashed Alexis in the head with their bags because they were in too much of a rush to care if there was anyone in front of them. Twice I was shoved aside by someone who perceived themselves to be in a bigger hurry than me. The sounds of snapping and rude judgment floated through the air.

People have stopped showing each other basic respect.

We have forgotten the lessons of 9/11, and for that, I personally am very ashamed.


(Photo taken in 2008 at the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County, PA. More are in my Flickr set.)

You can make donations to the Flight 93 Memorial Fund here.

18 comments:

  1. I really couldn't have said it better myself. I'm ashamed and embarassed by the way people have acted in the last year. I really hope we can find a way to come together. Coming together as a nation doesn't mean we have to forgo our own individual beliefs and ideas, but it means learning to accept that being different is OK and that is what makes a well rounded country.

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  2. I am 100% in agreement with you. I'm ashamed at our country right now and while I want to move back some day to raise our family, I am actually afraid to do it while things are the way they are now.
    Oh, and I thought you'd want to know, in your right hand column at the bottom where the ads are, there's an anti-Obama ad by Google.

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  3. That pride as a result of 9/11 was amazing. It was palpable. It was a moving force. It made me want to kick the lady in the shins that had the nerve to tell me that she's "patriotic and all that, but she's sick of seeing all the flags." That pride is what I want to instill into my children. That loyal fierceness that says "this is my country and you WON'T mess with us," that pride that makes you put aside pettiness for the greater good of the nation, that pride that supports the president because he is leading this nation that you live in. No matter what president that is.

    I mostly remember that cohesiveness of community in the aftershock of 9/11. It was amazing.

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  4. This is a wonderful post and I couldn't agree more. There is just a horrible feeling of rudeness and self importance going on lately and it's sickening.

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  5. Well said. Our divisiveness over issues shouldn't divide our country. I was discussing the Obama speech to the school with a mom who was outraged (even after the text was released)and keeping her child home. I said even if it was W doing the speech, I would encourage my child to watch it and discuss what was said because he is the president and deserves a measure of respect because of that. She said respect was earned and Obama didn't deserve her respect because he hadn't earned it. I was taken aback that she couldn't respect the office of president simply because she didn't agree with his politics.

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  6. Yesterday at GetGo I got totally free gas- and only used 15 gallons. So I got the attention of the man waiting behind me, and let him have the other 15 gallons. He said I made his weekend. My goal was just to do something nice.

    When I told my mom about it, she had a coronary that he never offered me any money.

    She TOTALLY missed the point!

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  7. Even I had a few days of "let's all come together" post 9/11. These days it isn't about 9/11 or even Presidents lying. All that is just an outward symptom of the crappiness that is "community". There just isn't community anymore. If there were, we wouldn't be here online looking for the place where we can safely know people without having them judge our houses & children.

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  8. I stumbled this. I could not have said it better. The feeling of the country yesterday and today compared to where we were 8 years ago is disparagingly different. The unity and joint spirit lasted such a short time before we began allowing and almost welcoming the attacks on ourselves. The thought that crossed my mind at one point yesterday was that the terrorists had, in a sense, won...because our country is so busy tearing itself apart these days...the middle ground is gone and if you don't agree with whatever side you're on, you suck.

    8 years ago you could see everywhere what patriotism was.

    Today the only place I see it is on my brother's face. The soldier who refuses to get into any political discussion disparaging any president past or present. He is proud to serve his COUNTRY. That's what it's supposed to be about. One joint country...not separate parties.

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  9. As I said on twitter the other night, Bush lied A LOT and no one ever called him out on it, at least not publicly like that. I have issues with both of our recent presidents (including the current one) but I have always respected the office and that it one of the main things we are lacking in this country lately -RESPECT. (as you said).

    I hope we could get some of that pride and respect back WITHOUT having a major tragedy in this country. The divisiveness I'm afraid, could be our demise...

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  10. I read this a couple of hours ago and wasn't going to comment, but I have been thinking about your post ever since then. You are right. 100 percent correct. Sad.
    The two Google ads that showed up for me are "Earn a Masters in Diplomacy" and "Political Warfare Classes". Interesting.

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  11. Anonymous3:45 PM

    I agree. How could we fall so far so fast? Some days I really think we're not as bad as we seem, but on a day when we should be remembering those feelings AND that pride, a lot of people just...aren't.

    Also, I think both cases of disrespecting the President were unacceptable. However, the Chicks did it in a foreign country while our SOLDIERS were preparing to defend THEIR country. That is dispicable...and is why I have yet to so much as listen to a song by them since.

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  12. ChickLitLisa8:03 PM

    Great post, as usual! What you said about the office of the president after 9/11 and this week was dead on.
    Ms, Teb--what a great idea!

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  13. M.

    I freaking love you.
    LOVE.

    No matter if I agree with you or not on every point or just some points.. you put it beautifully and I loves you

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  14. Thank you. There is nothing more I can say or add.

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  15. He politicians of good old SC are, as always, a disgrace. I will admit, however, to having a secret fantasy that our Congress operates more like the British Parliament. There, people heckle and are forced to think on the fly as they respond to criticism. I think it's a much better way to argue legislation than standing up there and reading a prepared speech from your staffer. As for the rudeness? I'm sure I'm a contributing cause ...

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  16. Very well put. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this. I hope things change - and quick.

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  17. Beautifully written. The lack of respect in the world today makes me weep.

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  18. I totally just blogged about the lack of human respect because of something awful that happened to my husband here.

    You're totally right, and I never really associated it with 9/11 before. Thanks.

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