02 May, 2011

A Day to Remember

I was 13 years old on September 11, 2001. It was my first day of 8th grade, my first day in a "public" online school. We were supposed to be going to the zoo - and encouraging my mom to take us to the zoo had been a feat. We were flicking through channels and I told my sister to stop, that looks like a cool movie.
It took about 10 seconds for us to realize it was real.
When I was 13, I had no idea what the World Trade Center was. I didn't even really know what a Muslim was, or where Afghanistan was, or the meaning of terrorism. We were watching when the second plane hit. I have never felt like I did that day in all of my life, and I don't know if I ever will again. I hope I don't.
When the plane in Shakesville crashed, I think it completely shook our reality. New York was still far away, in our heads, but you put the state we're in on the list of places, and it made it more real than I could have ever imagined.
Many things have changed since that day. I was lucky enough to not be one of the thousands of people who lost loved ones and friends and coworkers that day. I was lucky enough to not be one of the soldiers' wives who said goodbye for the last time to their husband fighting in wars that could have never been started without what happened that day. I can't count the ways I am lucky, but this did affect me.
It changed the way I look at the world, who I trust and what I believe. It changed how I interact with the world, and how I perceive people I meet. It taught me what fear is. It taught me what real hate is. Would I have ever known these things, or felt or believed the things I have over the past 10 years without that attack?
The lingering fear has been there, that breath-held, eyes-shut-tight feeling I have when I hear about someone attempting to terrorize the people of my country or any country anymore. The sick drop in my stomach when I hear about more people being killed in the name of anything but justice (real, true justice).
The world I grew up in after September 11, 2001, is very different than the world I lived in on September 10, 2001. I have to wonder if that would be the case if Osama bin Laden hadn't made the decisions he did.
I am not the kind of person who thinks that the death of anyone should be something to necessarily be "happy" about. However, I understand the sense of relief, of release, and of vindication or validation people might feel. I understand how people might look at this day as some sort of victory, because I think it is the closest to "winning" we might ever get, and those who have suffered the losses of loved ones do have a right to some sort of closure.
I am not happy that Osama bin Laden is dead. I am glad that they followed Muslim tradition in regards to his body after his death. I am happy that the people who suffered as a result of his actions will have closure and for the people who have lost loved ones in war, they might feel less like it was for nothing.
I feel relieved. Most of all, though, I hope that this happening means that we can finally start to move on, to grow, to become stronger, less divided, and less afraid again.

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