September 11th

I am not easily awed by sizes and numbers. I think this is mostly because I don't comprehend them as well as I do words. When people say "one million dollars", I think, "One? That's not that big."When people talk about how tall mountains are or how far it is from, say, LA to Minneapolis, I think, "You're only talking thousands of feet or miles - sorry, not impressed." Even now, when I hear about how many people are killed in earthquakes and tsunamis and terrorist attacks around the globe, I often fail to fully comprehend the scope of the damage. There are very few times in my life when the magnitude of an event has sunk in.

September 11, 2001 was one of those times. 

On that day, I was in ninth grade; just shy of turning fifteen. Like everyone else my age, I was at school when it happened. I was in homeroom, waiting for the bell to ring for first period, when the tech teacher, whose classroom was across the hall, came running over and shouted, "Someone just flew a plane into the Eiffel Tower!" Curious, our homeroom teacher turned on the television. We quickly discovered that not only was he wrong about the name of the tower, he was wrong about the location; wrong about the part of the globe. There, on the television screen, was a devastating event that was not taking place in France or anywhere else in Europe. It was happening in our own country. My perspective on the world changed. 

I can't even imagine what it would have been like to be in New York City that day. I was safe and snug in my little Midwestern town, so in that way, I will never be able to fully appreciate the feeling of grief and terror that I know many, many people experienced. I don't know anyone who died in the attacks. The closest link I have to the World Trader Center is a picture of me sitting in a stroller in front of it about twelve years earlier, taken on a day trip to New York City from my family's then-home in New Jersey. But regardless of my lack of actual connection, I was still struck by it. I still cried. I saved newspaper clippings and tried to grasp how anyone could want to hurt - kill - thousands of people they didn't even know, all in the name of a god or a way of life. And in our country no less, which I had always viewed as immune to the strife being experienced in the rest of the world. Looking back, I feel stupid that I was so naive, but I was only fifteen, and, growing up in a safe, stable, homogenous environment, had no reason to be otherwise. 9/11 was my first shove into the real world.

And then there are the good things that come out of the worst possible scenarios. People bonding together, forgetting differences, helping and caring for one another. I just finished watching the clip below from The Daily Show, which is what spurred me to write this blog post. I didn't start watching Jon Stewart and his nightly awesomeness until about six years ago, so I hadn't seen this until today. It is incredibly moving. He cries and has to recollect himself several times. I cried watching it. And I think it's worth your time to see, regardless of what side of the political spectrum you're on, or how you feel about Jon Stewart as a person/comedian. Watching this clip, I felt a little of what I felt on September 11, 2001: sadness, grief, and disbelief, tinged with hope. And because I watched it from my seat eleven years in the future, I also sat here with the knowledge that we did push through, and even though much sadness still remains, our beautiful country and our beautiful democracy still remain as well. Regardless of how hopeless I often feel about politics and the state of our nation, that fact of the matter is that our nation exists. They didn't take it away from us. We might be messy and dysfunctional at times, but we are still here. And that gives me hope for the future. 

Much love, friends.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
September 11, 2001
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