Looking Back

Today for many, is just another Monday. For me it etched in my memory. I know exactly where I was, who was standing next to me, and what I felt as I watched the World Trade Center towers collapse. The students on campus this year were in pre-school through 1st grade on September 11, 2001. I can imagine they remember it the same way I remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy – My mother crying, a somber atmosphere, and nothing on TV but news and more news. And so it goes. My mother was 10 years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed. She was old enough to understand and remember “a date which will live in infamy” along with the declaration of war. But those younger children knew only that things had changed somehow. The cycle of tragedy and loss continues as does the tandem cycle of rebirth and renewal. World War II saw devastation of many European cities, the obliteration of the Japanese city of Hiroshima and the destruction of Nagasaki. Those cities have been rebuilt. People have returned. Ground Zero in New York City has a memorial and a new skyscraper. Life has returned and the city thrives. As my mother’s generation passes away, the horrors of WWII fade from the collective memories. Soon there won’t be any from my generation that will remember JFK’s tragic end in Dallas. The terror and destruction of the twin towers is becoming just another chapter in the history books passed out to the latest crop of High School students required to take U.S. History. I look back and wonder if we have learned anything about ourselves, our civilization, our world. I look ahead and wonder what communal disaster will inform the lives of the coming generations.

Keep your eyes forward
Sodom and Gomorrah burn
Don’t look back children

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22 thoughts on “Looking Back

  1. That’s interesting that the k-1’s from 1001 are now the college students! They will have that day etched in their minds asa day when something awful happened. I was in Las Vegas for a conference that day — my phone rang as I was just about ready to join the group for breakfast, as they wer making sure they knew where all the staff was. I called my mother to let her know I was ok — as I said that it reminded me of the day JFK was shot, she interrupted me to say it reminded her of Pearl Harbor. It seems to be a generational event — opefully there won’t be another in my lifetime! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Las Vegas!

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  2. I was getting a few groceries, in Phoenix, when the first tower was hit. When I got home, my wife asked why my face was ashen. I turned on the TV, telling her that it appeared terrorists had struck the World Trade Center. Then the Pentagon was hit, then the second tower and CNN reported that the Capitol had been hit and that the National Mall was on fire (those last two were, of course, false reports). In 1963, I was in an eighth grade study hall, when a classmate with a transistor radio whispered to me that the President had been shot. I felt it best to keep my mouth shut, but ten minutes later, the Vice Principal came on the intercom, and told us what had happened.

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    1. Tragedies tend to cement seemingly insignificant activities into our memories. I was wearing the uniform (white pants, white shoes, light blue blouse and light blue wrap around smock when the TV was turned on in our conference room. We gathered and watched as smoke and flames billowed from the towers – first one and then the other…

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  3. I agree about the defining moments of certain events. Today I had to speak at the local University at the 9/11 Memorial service. It was a great event with pageantry of all the uniformed men and women and Taps and Bagpipes playing. There were four speakers from different denomination, and we spoke for just three to four minutes each. The Mayor was there and there were different hymns. All this took place in a chapel. I think I will post my speech on WP tonight.

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    1. I wonder if the response that pulled us together as a nation and blurred the lines of division can be found again in these times of polarization and fragmented society… I do hope you post your speech! I’m sure it was wonderful!

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  4. Very interesting and thought provoking post. Always through out history there have been those events which are pivotal and impressed upon our minds. I was at work in a small manufacturing shop. A co-worker had a small black and white TV just for background noise really. When the first news reports came through at first I thought it wasn’t real – then some terrible mistake. Sadly it was so much more horrific. peace always (if only)

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    1. Thanks. I’m pleased that this post caused you to think – the best compliment for a writer! As for peace, it is elusive lately. But I continue to hope and pray for peace in this world…

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  5. I recall each of these events vividly plus the death of FDR too. I was 9 going on 10 for Pearl Harbor,by the way. I was waiting to take your dad to the hospital to discuss kidney transplant possibility….had the tv on while he finished getting ready when I saw the tragedy of Sept. 11th.! I have seen and remember enough of these events!!! Don’t want any more…..EVER!

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  6. It seems too many people have forgotten. Our country is divided and many have turned from God. Love your allusion to Sodom and Gomorrah. There may be good reason the United States is not referenced in Revelations or end-times Bible prophecy.

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