Like most American adults, I clearly remember what I was doing exactly 12 years ago.
I was home on maternity leave with my two-week old daughter. I had just dropped my three-year old son off at preschool and was upstairs making beds listening to the radio.
When I first heard reports of planes hitting the twin towers, I wondered what was wrong with air traffic control.
The thought of terrorism never crossed my mind, and I didn’t wrap my brain around the enormity of the event.
Being home alone wasn’t normal for me. I was used to being at work and being surrounded by people.
As the day wore on, I received more and more phone calls from friends and family members. Some were calling to check on me and others were calling to let me know they were o.k.
And, despite all the horror of September 11, 2001, that is what I remember most about the day.
As a nation, we not only reached out to those we loved, but we also reached out to complete strangers with love and support.
I don’t ever want to experience another day like 9/11, but I do want our nation to once again experience that type of compassion.
Kindness always makes me smile.
Day 67: Kindness Day 66: Living in a Place You Love Day 65: Gifts from the Heart Day 64: The Arrival of Fall Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird Day 62: Green Lights Day 61: My Canine Friends Day 60: Differences Day 59: A New Box of Crayons Day 58: Bookworms Day 57: Being Oblivious Day 56: Three-day Weekends Day 55: A Cat Purring Day 54: Being a Unique Individual Day 53: Children’s Artwork Day 52: Lefties Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer Day 50: Campfires Day 49: Childhood Crushes Day 48: The Words “Miss You” Day 47: Birthday Stories Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us Day 45: Play-Doh Day 44: First Day of School Pictures Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes Day 42: Appreciative Readers Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote Day 40: Being Silly Day 39: Being Happy Exactly Where You Are Day 38: Proud Grandparents Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want Day 34: Accepting the Fog Day 33: I See the Moon Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap Day 31: Perspective Day 30: Unlikely Friendships Day 29: Good Samaritans Day 28: Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet? Day 27: Shadows Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads Day 25: When Harry Met Sally Day 24: Hibiscus Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck Day 22: The Wonderful World of Disney Day 21: Puppy love Day 20 Personal Theme Songs Day 19: Summer Clouds Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17: A Royal Birth Day 16: Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter Day 12: Round Bales of Hay Day 11: Water Fountains for Dogs Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day 7: Finding the missing sock Day 6: Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment Day 4: Jumping in Puddles Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street
And, even though my memories of the following days aren’t nearly as vivid, I remember one thing very clearly.
There were American flags everywhere.
They were flying on private homes. They adorned t-shirts and other articles of clothing. And they were fluttering on moving vehicles.
I found this fascinating. Not just because I’d never before seen American flags flying on automobiles as though they were paraphernalia for a sports team, but because the flags were so easily damaged, which seemed to defeat the purpose of flying them.
As a child in Girl Scouts, I remember being taught all the rules about how to handle and treat a flag. As a young adult, I remembered the national debate over the issue of defacing and even burning flags as a sign of protest.
And yet, in the days after 911, people were damaging their flags in the name of patriotism.
At the time, I wasn’t particularly upset by this phenomena; I simply found it interesting. But now, ten years later, the tattered flags represent something much greater to me: while America initially came together after 9 11, we’ve since been tearing apart – kind of like those flags waving on the cars.
I think that’s because some people equate patriotism with pride, pride with winning and winning with defeating an enemy.
There have been and always will be plenty of enemies to our country, we don’t need to be creating them.
But some people seem intent on doing so by pointing fingers at immigrants, people with different religious beliefs, people with different political ideas, people who are poor, etc. The list goes on and on.
Each time fingers point, I hear the American flag rip a bit more. That’s because our flag represents a country that was founded by immigrants. A country that welcomed people who didn’t have the same religious beliefs as the establishment. A country that encouraged diverse ways of thinking. A country that has a rich tradition of helping those who are down on their luck.
As the tenth anniversary of September 11 draws to a close, I hope that people focus not only on all the lives that were lost on that horrible day but also on the possibilities that we initially found that day.
The possibility that we could come together as a country to help each other.
The possibility that we were better united than we are divided.
The possibility that we use our diverse strengths to support each other rather than to tear each other down.
The possibility that we live can live up to ideals represented by our flag: a flag that may be a bit torn and ripped but still stands for a compassionate, caring and idealistic country.
A flag we can all fly with pride.