12 September, 2008

Time Has Not Helped

That was AWTM's headline yesterday.

And that's what I've felt with each succeeding year. But with this last remembrance, I think I finally understood why.

It's because each year it becomes clearer that there is no going back. But even moreso, each 9-11 we look back over the years and are reminded of how the cost has grown--in terms of lives lost to war, young and strong soldiers returning with debilitating wounds and souls burdened by their experiences, children raised in a world where they know from the earliest time they can grasp it that we're not really safe (yes, we never were, but we got to grow up in a world that didn't force that realization on us), and politics that has become more vicious and small even as the problems are bigger and more serious.

For some reason this year it hit me that it wasn't so much my finding a way to "support the troops" in 2004 that changed my life, but it was September 11, 2001 that did it. As I've written before, I recognized the significance, and it shook my worldview. But for the following two years I was able to (required to, if I wanted to be successful) stay immersed in my graduate studies... aware of what was going on, but lacking the time and finances to do anything, and not having the connections that made it personal.

Of course that's changed in the last few years. And as much as I have found my place in the world, as much as it gives me deep satisfaction to do what I do, I wish I didn't have this opportunity. I wish there wasn't a need for it.

Yesterday without warning, the talk radio station I was listening to switched to a documentary of the sounds of 9-11, and I realized that even if people have forgotten, the world really did change that day, and not for the better. In adversity, we Americans have stood up and made the best of the situation as we always do, found/created the silver linings and done what had to be done. In doing so so some of us rediscovered a richness of American spirit, tradition and self-sacrifice we thought we'd lost. But war leaves a stamp on all of us... scars on some of us.

As I've shared before, I never heard the live radio or saw the TV broadcasts as things unfolded that day. But sitting here yesterday and hearing the raw footage and the broadcasting wordsmiths at a loss for the coin of their realm knocked me for a loop. More clearly than ever, I could hear the before and after of it all, remember the confusion, the innocence lost. I realized that without 9-11, I wouldn't have been sitting there listening to that and working for Soldiers' Angels with tears rolling silently down my cheeks.

My life is good; I have not lost a loved one to this war, I have not sent a husband or a child into the danger zone. My neighborhood has not been attacked. But without 9-11 my life would've been entirely different at this point, and there's so much I wouldn't have known.

But I don't want to write about what I wouldn't have known... it's all too horrible to think about all at once for more than a moment.

Because war is horrible.

And that's the real legacy of 9-11: war.

And that is why I was in tears yesterday, and why I get a little bit angrier and cry just a little bit more each year.

Stupid, f****** war. They asked for it, and we gave it to them. I hope they're happy.