Let there be peace on earth — especially in USA
It typically starts on Sept. 1 or thereabout — the anniversary commemorations. The annual reruns of certain documentaries … and the introduction of several new ones, too.
The new facts, the revelations the finger-pointing of the mistakes that led to the appalling end results. The stories of terror, horror, fear. The stories of heroism, selflessness, sacrifice. The specific and general recollections of that dark, desperate day.
It is time, once again, for deep reflection.Time for quiet, pensive contemplation. Time for sorrowful remembrance.
And time for a return to the profound, genuine patriotism that only could have sprung forth in response to the tremendous tragedy that was Sept. 11, 2001.
Actually, it past time for that. Because the country today is not the one that I remember it being on Sept. 12, 2001.
Oh, how well I recall how it was on 9/11 — and 9/12, too. In fact, as painful as it is to remember, it’s all I can do right about now.
I remember the way if felt to be paralyzed with fear as I struggled to comprehend that I was witnessing the arguably darkest day in our national history unfold on “The Today Show” — right before my very eyes, as the rock group Chicago would put it.
I remember hearing Matt Lauer say something about a fire at one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan and being concerned enough to turn my head around from my coffee-making task to see what he meant.
As I watched smoke and flames pour out of a zig-zag hole in one of the famous, monstrously high trade center buildings, I cocked my head to the side because suddenly, there was a plane smashing into the lookalike high rise next to it.
“Wait, what the…” I said to myself and my then-21-month old baby boy. “Mommy, I watch Barney now?” was his response.
I remember giving him a chocolate chip muffin and saying, “Not right now, sweetie. Mommy needs to see what’s happening here.”
It was an adequate enough response for a toddler, especially one who’d just been handed something yummy. He turned to walk over to the rocking chair, where he situated himself with his muffin in hand and sat grinning at me.
I remember how it felt to look at those big brown eyes and that sweet, innocent smile and to be utterly terrified of the evil world into which I had brought this clean little lamb.
I remember trying to comprehend what I had just seen for myself, in living color and in real time. A jetliner plunging headlong into what I came to learn was the South Tower, the one that was hit second but would crumble first.
I remember calling Kerry at his job at a local television station to see if somehow he knew anything more than I. He did not.
I remember exchanging what seemed like 97 phone calls with my sister to determine if I should pile Kyle into his car seat and pick up my niece and nephew from school for her. We decided against it.
I remember talking with my girlfriend Lisa and saying, “I’m sure they will get everyone out. The towers won’t collapse. They can’t.”
Lisa was quite the jet-setter and had been to NYC countless times. Her husband even owned a travel agency then. I vividly remember her reply to my comments:
“Patty, all that jet fuel pouring down into the buildings and all that fire? They will. They absolutely will collapse. It’s just a matter of when.”
I remember hoping against hope that she was wrong but knowing in my heart of hearts she was not.
I remember the disturbing quiet of the plane-less September sky for the remainder of that sunny day and the several to follow. I remember the sadness I felt when I turned on the car radio as I drove to church that night and the first song I heard was “What a Wonderful World.”
I remember going into Mass in tears and walking out in utter silence. In fact, no one was saying a single word after we all stood together holding hands, praying and singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” To this day, I cannot hear or sing that hymn without crying.
And I remember, through my tears and fears, becoming absolutely overwhelmed with a sense of patriotism and a fierce loyalty to the USA that I hadn’t experienced before. I mean, I’ve always been proud to be an American, but after 9/11, I was damned proud of how we all came together in the face of the tragedy the occurred in New York City, Washington, D.C. and in a random field in Shanksville, Pa.
I remember the kindness we all showed each other in our shared grief and shock, not just at church but at the supermarket, in the mall, at ball games and everywhere. I remember that people were suddenly blind to party lines, to age, sex and race diversities and to so many other differentiators among us. I remember that above all, we were Americans, united as one nation under God.
And I will continue to keep the faith that we can get back to that place of unity and accord with each other — all on our own. We owe it to one another — and to the nearly 3,000 of our countrymen and women who died that day and the more than 6,000 others who were injured — to at least try.
Tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the million after that, “Let there be peace on earth … and let it begin with me,” especially in our homeland. God Bless America!
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who loves her family, faith, friends and the good old US of A more than she can say. But she’ll keep trying, so follow her at www.patriciakimerer.com.