Looking Somber

In recent weeks we’ve had mid-term elections, recounts of votes, calls for gun control, wild fires, shootings, states of emergency and the list goes on. Today is Veteran’s Day (observed), and  is  a reminder that our freedom is a fragile thing that must be nurtured and protected. The newspaper had a 2 page listing of events for Veterans, everything from high school performances of bands, orchestra and/or choirs to addresses by elected politicians or dignitaries. There are wreath laying ceremonies, a drive to collect suits for veterans, and a canned goods drive. However there wasn’t any mention of the local grocery store chain where son#1 and son#2 work. I suppose it was so well known that they give away hot meals (fried chicken meals – 2 pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, biscuit, and another side) to veterans that there didn’t need to be any advertising. Although it is officially Veteran’s Day today, they gave away meals on Sunday in alignment with the Treaty of Versailles signed on November 11 at 11:00 AM that ended WWI.  It is such a big deal that son#1 worked in the kitchen making chicken (he is so good that people will call in to find out if he’s cooking). He said they gave out over 200 meals at their location from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It pains me to think that our military veterans are not being accorded the assistance to heal from the trauma of combat, reintegration to civilian life, and assistance with finding good paying jobs. Which brings me to the startling fact that the children in school now are too young to remember September 11, 2001. Seniors in high school weren’t born yet in 2001! The college students were too young to even remember the horror of seeing the World Trade Center fall.

So why am I talking about September 11 now? It is November and I should have been posting all this on September 11th, right? Well, the reality is that I went to Baltimore and saw this:

This is a chunk of the World Trade Center. It is a twisted and compressed piece of the interior steel skeleton of the tower. It sits on a marble pedestal outside the Baltimore World Trade Center. I walked past it on my way to a dinner. I was walking with 2 women (one from San Diego, CA and the other from Pittsburgh, PA). We had discovered that we were all going the same way and since it was dark we decided to walk together. As we passed this monument, I paused to read the plaque and take a photo. They patiently waited for me. As we walked away one asked me why I was taking a photo of the “modern art”. I explained that it was a piece of the World Trade Center. She stared at me blankly. I realized that both were probably only 25 at the most and the event that is seared into the minds of most adults is but a historical footnote to her generation. For them it is the reality not of foreign terrorists but gun violence in schools like the Sandy Hook Elementary school in 2012 and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL in 2018. Seems the memory of the twin towers is dimming and being replace by other unspeakable tragedies.

15 thoughts on “Looking Somber

  1. My younger kid complains that people get mad at her for not being as upset as they are on September 11. She was a baby. I’d be willing to bet that she’s more upset about school shootings than some people are. I guess I’m saying that there’s plenty to be upset about in this world we live in that offers no safety for anyone.
    That piece of the WTC wasn’t there when I last visited Baltimore. At least I didn’t see it. We have been to the monument etc in NY. It’s stunning. If you haven’t been there, I hope you make a plan for a trip. (It’s really cold in NYC in the winter- maybe don’t go then. And certainly don’t go to NYC in Christmas season.) There’s a tree that survived all of it. Perhaps a symbol of US spirit. We can survive.

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    1. Each generation has a defining event – whether a war or another kind of horrific tragedy… It is only natural for each of us to hold our memory/remembrances as more sacred than those of another. My Grandmother was shaped by WWI, my mother by WWII, the Vietnam War was my generation’s tragedy, and my sons by 9/11. I haven’t been to NYC though I’ve visited NY state several times. I’m pretty sure I’d survive a winter experience in the city since I’m from Northern Indiana. We had snow today (and a touch of freezing rain too)… The piece in Baltimore, I’m told, is sitting at an odd angle on the marble base to allow the light to strike it just so on 9/11 to cast a peculiar shadow. I don’t know if that is true and I have no way to confirm it.

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    1. Then you remember the events and your BIL doesn’t. I don’t know if that is a blessing or not. I would rather not have the memory but I’ll take it over the horror of outright war like Vietnam or the Gulf War.

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      1. I was in Algebra when the first tower was hit. Rest of the day the high school students were in the library watching the coverage. We saw both towers fall. There was such a line for fuel the only spot in town to get it was out by noon. It was a very scary time of uncertainty for weeks.

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  2. I agree 9-11 was awful and memorials are key in remembering what went down that day, but I question our government’s story. They maintain the Middle East conflict is about terrorism, not oil, but our soldiers have been occupying their land for more than 25 years, no weapons of mass destruction have ever been found, and the US economy has boomed, as it reliably does when we crank up the ol’ war machine. The American people wouldn’t support a war over there without a damn good reason, like a horrific act of terrorism. Maybe the bad guys behind the 9-11 attacks weren’t religious zealots, but greedy billionaires who had (and still have) much to gain from a never-ending war. I feel sad for today’s kids, who have never known what it was like to board an airplane without removing your shoes and walking through a metal detector, to be allowed to bring a full-sized shampoo in your carry-on bag. TSA intrusions and rules feel normal to them because they have never known it to be otherwise. Same with active shooter drills at schools and gender-neutral bathrooms and the like. The past few years have been full of unspeakable tragedies, each forgotten as something worse shoves its way to the forefront. It desensitizes us, or we just tune out, unable to take any more. I’m glad veterans were remembered yesterday and today, they deserve that recognition. Less than 2% of the population has served in the US military. Bless your sons and their workplace for taking care of them, I’m sure the vets appreciated it. 🙂

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    1. Amen Sister!! I remember sitting in front of the TV and having the show interrupted by then Pres. Bush giving Iraq an ultimatum to turn over their president within 24 hours or face military action. I looked at Sparky and told him that it was wrong and that there weren’t any “weapons of mass destruction”. He disagreed. I take very little comfort in knowing I was right. It has always been about money/oil.

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  3. And some don’t know about the Nazi concentration camps either! So many tragedies! So much hatred causing them! So much fear feeding the hatred! I will never forget Pearl Harbor even though I was not quite 10 years old!

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    1. There are always those that don’t know due to age but then there are those who won’t acknowledge the reality – some say the Holocaust never happened, the moon landing was faked on a Hollywood sound stage, JFK is alive and hanging out with Elvis…

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  4. If it were not for the goodness of my friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family, I would believe that the world “is a vicious place” (a quote by our president regarding the killing of a Saudi journalist). The vicious deeds of the few receive the news coverage and the neighbor who looks in on you when you’re sick goes unremarked.

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    1. Indeed. It is the small kindnesses that buoy hope that as a people and a nation we will endure. The world can be vicious and people do unspeakable things – but if we can perform selfless acts of love and generosity and kindness and charity we can erase a little of that evil. There needs to be more recognition of the good…

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